This past Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the NAACP kicked off a civil rights economic and environmental justice initiative to connect 30+ communities of color and low income communities across the nation with solar energy infrastructure for homes and community centers, as well as skills training for solar jobs, all supported by strengthened solar equity policies.
In launching the Solar Equity Initiative, the NAACP makes a year-long commitment to provide solar job skills training to 100 individuals, installation of solar panels on 20 households and 10 community centers, and strengthen equity in solar access policies in at least 5 states across the country. Partners supporting this national initiative include GRID Alternatives, Solar Energy Industries Association, Sunrun, United Methodist Women, Vote Solar, and others.
Clients served by Jenesse will get hands-on training from GRID Alternatives during the installation, gaining skills to access the growing solar industry, thus providing economic opportunities as part of Jenesse’s core aim of empowering women and fostering financial independence, aims shared by the NAACP. With the #TimesUp movement rising, the NAACP is especially honored to support Jenesse’s ever-critical mission.
Multiple NAACP studies and reports chronicle the disparities in exposure to pollution from fossil fuel based energy production in low income and communities of color. Communities of color and low income communities, as well as population groups such as women, consume the least energy, but are most disproportionately impacted, suffering poor health outcomes, compromised education, loss of livelihoods and loss of life as a result of exposure to toxins and the ravages of climate change.
Estimated environmental benefits of the Jenesse installation, which is supported by grants from the initiative partners and equipment donations from Jinko Solar, will be to reduce harmful toxins, including off-setting 90.06 tons of carbon emissions; the equivalent to planting over 2,000 trees and taking approximately seventeen cars off the road. Lifetime financial savings for the Jenesse Center is estimated to be $48,825.01. These savings will enable Jenesse to infuse more funds into continuing its 35 years of life-saving services. Similar environmental and economic savings will be replicated with installations on the 9 additional centers and 20 households.
“We are ecstatic to incorporate the inauguration of these civil rights solar access projects with the MLK Day broadcast of the Image Awards. This initiative is in the true spirit of the legacy of Dr. King and underscores the mission of the NAACP to advance equity and justice,” said Leon Russell, Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors. “We will roll up our sleeves for a noble cause as we prepare to honor outstanding achievements in entertainment.”
“Underserved communities cannot be left behind in a clean energy transition,” added NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. “Clean energy is a fundamental civil right which must be available to all, within the framework of a just transition. The NAACP Image Awards is about celebration and service, and the Solar Equity Initiative is a very fitting addition to the weekend.”
— Solar Builder magazine