Inside Rensselaer
Rensselaer and Troy Vie for Pepsi Refresh Grant

In an effort to revitalize downtown Troy by engaging Rensselaer’s student population, Rensselaer’s Office of Community Relations and student leaders at Rensselaer worked with the Troy Downtown Collaborative to apply for a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh grant, which was ranked 11th as of press time. Pepsi Refresh grants provide funding to support ideas from individuals, nonprofits, and pro-social businesses that can make a positive impact in the community in areas that include: health, arts and culture, the planet, food and shelter, neighborhoods, and education. Approved projects are posted and then can be voted on for the month following submission.

“Troy’s downtown revitalization is happening but will stagnate unless we tap into new areas of talent like the energy of our local student population, which in turn will increase investor confidence in our growing downtown,” said Elizabeth Young, executive director of the Troy Downtown Collaborative (TDC). “Encouraging local businesses creates jobs, and empowering residents pays dividends beyond just reinvesting dollars into our community.”

Young stated that if the TDC were awarded the grant, they would make investments that include a business development plan to bring at least 10 new businesses to downtown Troy within a year, which are either owned by a local college graduate or specifically cater to the needs of the student population. In addition, the grant would help to support the development of a support system, business plan assistance and training, collaborative advertising, and reduced price commercial rents, to ensure the long-term success of new entrepreneurs.

Additional highlights of the proposed project include: streetscape improvements, including kiosks; improved directional signage and security equipment; and the creation of special events and marketing collateral specifically designed to attract thousands of students to downtown to patronize small businesses.
“This is a great project undertaken by the Troy Downtown Collaborative to synthesize the many different aspects — from an educated labor supply to a business-friendly climate—of downtown Troy with one grant,” said City of Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian. “People are coming back to live and work in Troy and this grant will be a significant investment toward expanding our revitalized downtown. Please vote every day!”

For the last few months, Erin Crotty, director of community relations at Rensselaer, and several student leaders, including Anasha Cummings, chair of the Student Sustainability Task Force and co-founder of the RPI Design Collective (DECO), Caroline Albrecht, head of the of the newly formed student organization known as the Troy Outreach Club, and Ed Yu, chair of the Community Relations Committee of the Student Senate, have been working with the TDC to develop the project. Rensselaer is a member of the board of directors of the TDC, which is a group of citizen activists formed to cultivate the economic growth and development of the downtown Troy community by creating an increasingly inviting, dynamic, and sustainable environment that celebrates the city’s history while building toward its future.

“Rensselaer’s students, faculty, and staff are long-term, significant supporters of the businesses located in Troy, as well as cultural events offered downtown,” said Crotty. “The project is a great example of bringing about positive change in our own community through partnerships. The Pepsi Refresh funding would further encourage and entice the RPI community to experience downtown Troy’s charm and to be a part of its continued renaissance.”

Voting for the project will continue through Jan. 31. For more information, visit

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Inside Rensselaer, Strategic Communications and External Relations
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 1, January 21, 2011
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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