Are You Philanthropy-Ready? How to Work with Foundations on Mission-Aligned Community Solar

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Community solar is emerging as a popular way to deliver a range of economic and social benefits that go beyond clean energy. The US Department of Energy (DOE) has set a goal for America to deploy enough community solar projects to power the equivalent of five million households by 2025 and create $1 billion in energy bill savings.

To reach the goal, DOE has created the Community Power Accelerator, as part of the National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP).  The Accelerator is an online ecosystem bringing together developers, lenders, foundations, community organizations, and other stakeholders to support the deployment of mission-aligned community solar.

The Accelerator is especially focused on projects that deliver “meaningful benefits” to customers and communities, including:

  • Access by low- to moderate-income households
  • Greater bill savings
  • Resilience and grid benefits
  • Community ownership
  • Local workforce development

Many philanthropic organizations are looking at community solar as a way to capture these benefits in their grant-making and investment programs, while also reducing pollution and promoting environmental justice.

To help community-based organizations (CBOs), non-profit organizations, and mission-aligned developers seeking philanthropic support, Berkeley Lab and the National Renewable Energy Lab prepared Are You Philanthropy-Ready?  How to Work with Foundations on Mission-Aligned Community Solar. 

The guide provides an overview of how foundations work, gives tips on what they seek in a fundable project, and provides guidance on crafting effective proposals. In short, this guide aims to help the fund-seeker become philanthropy-ready.

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