Solar school grants that support air quality

Installing solar panels allows schools to save money while running on clean energy


There are now over 5,000 schools across the United States with solar installations.


One of the unintended consequences of quarantine due to COVID-19 across the world is the improvement in air quality. In India, where air pollution is among the world’s worst, residents are reporting seeing the Himalayas for the first time from their homes. According to the World Health Organization, before the pandemic, nine out of 10 people worldwide breathed polluted air. Hopefully, the temporary experience of cleaner air brought about by widespread shutdowns will offer lessons for the kind of world we want after the pandemic. One way we can support air quality is to increase the amount of solar power throughout the world.

The Solar Foundation states “there are now over 5,000 schools across the United States with solar installations. These schools are saving money on electric bills, educating students about clean energy, and ensuring a brighter future for the next generation.” As educators, administrators and school district personnel, we can do our part to help improve air quality in our communities by reducing the school’s carbon footprint. Let’s step away from daily COVID-19 stress for a little while and examine some school grants for solar power.

  • The Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation offers up to $25,000 worth of funding to for specific, short-term projects with measurable results to improve the environment and K-12 grants up to $5,000. The application deadline has been extended to Sept. 11, 2020.
  • The New York Solar Electric Program is undertaking significant changes in how it generates and delivers energy by “making solar energy more accessible to homes, businesses, and communities through NY-Sun.” This program is currently paused due to COVID-19 and is expected to return on Apr. 29, 2020.
  • The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation offers various grants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure clean, efficient supplies of energy to protect people from climate change.
  • The Clif Bar Family Foundation’s emphasis is on reducing waste and advancing renewable energy, reducing the threat of climate change, improving air and water quality and creating green businesses and jobs. The small grants deadline is June 1, 2020.
  • The Lawrence Foundation is a private family foundation that provides grants to support environmental causes for public schools and nonprofits. The application deadline is Apr. 30, 2020 or Oct. 31, 2020. They also currently consider COVID-19 funding requests.
  • The McKnight Foundation’s program goal is to “foster and support climate and energy leadership in the Midwest, making the region a model for the world by reducing energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.” McKnight will announce its revised program guidelines in fall 2020.
  • PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) are dedicated to building better communities for their employees and customers with a program of charitable giving that addresses critical educational and environmental challenges. To promote local resilience to climate change, PG&E plans to invest $2 million over five years in shareholder-funded grants through the Better Together Resilient Communities grant program to support local climate resilience initiatives.
  • The Energy Efficient Schools Council (EESC) with the State of Tennessee expects to provide over $10 million in grants and loans to K-12 public schools for ongoing energy-efficient projects. Since being established in 2008, with a one-time allotment of $90 million dollars from excess Lottery Funds, EESI has now disbursed over $102.5 million in energy-efficient grants and loans to public K-12 schools in the state, and saved schools over $43 million in energy costs. See their website for available opportunities.
  • Rhode Island’s Renewable Energy Fund provides support for renewable energy projects that “produce electricity in a cleaner, more sustainable manner, while stimulating job growth in the green technology and energy sectors.”
  • Xcel Energy’s Renewable Development Fund, which is financed by its Minnesota and Wisconsin electric customers, promotes the startup, expansion, and attraction of renewable energy projects and companies in their service area. Their current grant cycle consists of 29 awards totaling $42 million.

Installing solar panels on your school enables the campus to save money while running on clean energy. The school building will help the community improve air quality, combat greenhouse gas emissions, and fight global warming. The earth is the one thing we all have in common, and it’s our job to help save it.

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