Fintech company Intuit funds solar training in coal country

solar worker success

The solar energy transition will require a lot of jobs, which means it requires a lot more training programs and education. The newly launched Coalfield Solar Fund is designed to go just that, thanks to a partnership between Intuit (financial technology platform that makes TurboTax, Credit Karma, etc.), the National Energy and Education Development (NEED) Project, and Secure Solar Futures, a provider of on-site clean energy and educational programs to schools and colleges.

The Coalfield Solar Fund provides multiyear grant funding to help bring solar power, job training, and hands-on student learning opportunities in the solar energy industry to communities in Virginia and West Virginia.

Intuit is building off the success of its earlier collaboration with Secure Solar Futures on a solar project in Wise, Virginia – an Intuit Prosperity Hub location – with the Coalfield Solar Fund. The program provides incentive grant funding opportunities for public K-12 and community colleges to apply for solar energy systems and equipment at no upfront cost, while simultaneously arming local workforces with valuable and vital skills for clean energy careers.

The Coalfield Solar Fund establishes in-classroom, educational opportunities on STEM and clean energy, and delivers a hands-on learning curriculum for high school students—bolstered by Intuit’s financial literacy and design thinking tools—while also providing economic savings for schools on their energy bills.

Intuit is a founding partner and key funding contributor, and grants will be distributed by The NEED Project. Awards will range from $50,000 to $150,000 per campus to qualifying and successful K-12 public school and community college applicants to allow them to deploy solar power solutions and prepare local students for careers in renewable energy.

“As part of our Climate Positive Commitment, Intuit has teamed up with Secure Solar Futures and The NEED Project to sustainably power prosperity in the coalfields regions of Virginia and West Virginia that have been powering the US for hundreds of years,” said Debbie Lizt, Head of Sustainability at Intuit. “We’re excited to help create new career pathways and educational opportunities in underserved communities, while also helping reduce carbon emissions in the transition to 21st century energy sources.”

To qualify for the grant program, applicants must agree both to obtain on-site solar power systems through a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Secure Solar Futures and to partner with the company to start and operate a program to train solar installers locally.

“One of the best ways to bring solar power to a community is to start with public schools and community colleges,” said Ryan McAllister, CEO of Secure Solar Futures. “Schools have large flat rooftops suitable to host larger solar arrays and can greatly benefit from the financial savings and educational opportunities that solar power offers. Best of all, schools and colleges can now go solar much more affordably than in the past thanks to newly available PPA structures.”

How to apply

For the first phase of funding, applicants must submit a brief notice of interest form through the program’s website by April 17, 2023.

Secure Solar Futures will then evaluate each application to assess solar feasibility. If selected for the final round, additional application steps will be required for submission by July 1, 2023.

Awards will be announced at the start of the new school year this fall. Applicants not awarded grants in the first phase will be entered on a waiting list for subsequent rounds of funding.

Interested schools and colleges can learn more about the program by attending two informational webinars scheduled for April 6 and April 12, 2023.

— Solar Builder magazine




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