College students raise money to bring solar to local nonprofits on Earth Day

College students raise money to bring solar to local nonprofits on Earth Day

RE-volv, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, announces this Earth Day the launch of four new solar crowdfunding campaigns spearheaded by local college students in California, Ohio, South Carolina and Wisconsin. The projects will bring the power and benefits of solar energy to local nonprofits: East End Community Services in Dayton, Ohio; Primates Inc. in Westfield, Wisconsin; the University California Santa Barbara (UCSB) Student Housing Co-op in Isla Vista, California; and the VFW Post 10420 in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.

“RE-volv’s financial model is a fantastic way to empower community members to support clean energy while also helping a nonprofit increase their ability to support the community,” reports William Nicholson, the Solar Ambassador project lead of the UW-Madison students. “It’s a win-win.”

The four nonprofits that will benefit from the solar campaigns all play critical roles in their communities. UCSB Housing Co-op provides inclusive, low-rent housing and community space for all students. VFW Post 10420 is instrumental in helping the brave men and women who served in the armed forces acclimate to civilian life. Primates Inc. provides a sanctuary for primates used in medical testing facilities. East End Community services provide a full range of services to help people move out of poverty.

The students running the campaigns are fellows in RE-volv’s Solar Ambassador program, a year-long fellowship that provides valuable career skills to college students by training them to bring solar to nonprofits in their communities. Over 120 students from 11 universities in ten states are fellows in the program this school year.

“RE-volv’s Solar Ambassador program empowers college students to bring clean energy to their communities, and by doing so, we’re training tomorrow’s clean energy leaders,” said Elyse Wood, RE-volv’s Solar Ambassador program manager. “America’s best and brightest are looking for opportunities to take action on climate change while getting practical career experience in clean energy. We’ve created a unique program that allows students to channel their creativity and passion into real climate solutions while teaching them important job skills.”

From Cyclone Idai, the largest tropical storm ever seen in the Southern Hemisphere, to flooding in the Midwest that has caused billions of dollars in damage, the frequency of catastrophic climate change events are reaching dangerous new levels. With an increase of climate-related disasters, the movement for clean energy and sustainable solutions is also reaching an all-time high in popularity. From the Green New Deal to the Youth Climate Strike that saw millions of youth marching for climate solutions, to cities around the U.S. pledging 100% renewable energy goals, the environmental movement is reaching and activating new communities around the globe.

“This is the most consequential Earth Day in its 49-year history. Never has there been a more critical time to act, and support clean energy initiatives that will combat climate change,” said Andreas Karelas, RE-volv founder and executive director. “We’re providing people and communities the opportunity to invest in tangible solutions that help the planet, but are also good for our communities.”

If these four campaigns are successful, RE-volv will have crowdfunded 21 solar projects (275+ kW of capacity) in six states. Thanks to the solar installations, these 21 nonprofits are expected to save between 15 and 50% on their electric bills. In total, they will save more than $1 million over the life of their solar energy systems. RE-volv’s solar revolving fund, the Solar Seed Fund, is now worth over $1 million in future lease payments from these 21 projects — payments which will be used to finance at least 33 more solar energy projects for nonprofits.

An estimated 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. face financial barriers to obtaining solar power, as they do not qualify for solar tax credits or are too small to attract traditional financiers. These nonprofits miss out on the financial benefits of solar which they could use to further support the communities they serve. RE-volv’s model helps bridge this funding gap for organizations that provide valuable public services to vulnerable communities, including homeless shelters, schools, community centers and houses of worship.

You can support these student-led campaigns or learn more about them by visiting:

  • re-volv.org/eastend
  • re-volv.org/primates
  • re-volv.org/ucsb
  • re-volv.org/vfwpost10420

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