A crowdfunded initiative in Philadelphia aims to bring solar power and renewable energy education to area schools, allowing students to not only get access to clean energy for their school buildings, but to also gain insights into green entrepreneurship and clean technology opportunities.
The program, called the Philadelphia Solar Schools Initiative (PSSI), is a joint program between Solar States and Clean Currents, and is currently seeking funding through Indiegogo in order to provide teaching supplies and to hire a full-time director/teacher.
Thanks to the backing of these two organizations, schools in the Philadelphia area are receiving a package deal of solar panels, courses on renewable energy for students, and access to wind power to provide the rest of the electricity needs at 20 school buildings.
"The Philadelphia Solar Schools Initiative makes solar power accessible to schools that would not necessarily be able to install solar panels otherwise. With PSSI, it’s easy for schools to reduce their environmental impact and empower the future generation with hands on access to and knowledge about clean power." - Micah Gold-Markel, founder of Solar States
The program currently provides a daily class for the YouthBuild Charter School in sustainable business and entrepreneurship opportunities in the green industry, but these classes are taught solely on a volunteer basis, so raising enough money to hire a full time teacher could make a big difference for the program. With a full time director/teacher, PSSI could not only continue to teach this class, but also expand their solar energy education efforts to 20 new schools in the area.
Students at YouthBuild also get training in solar panel installation, which could end up giving them employment opportunities through the school solar installations that are planned.
For 2014, PSSI aims to install solar arrays on 20 school roofs, totaling more than 5,000 solar panels with a capacity of 1.5 MW of clean renewable energy.
The Philadelphia Solar Schools Initiative (PSSI) is a new program with a mission to connect sustainable energy, education, and economic development in Philadelphia. Through PSSI, Solar States will:
a. Partner with investors to finance solar arrays for 20 local schools that would not be able to install solar panels otherwise.
b. Teach students in those schools about green energy (addressing multiple state Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math - STEM - standards) and give them hands-on experience with solar technology.
c. Train students at Youth Build Charter School, a school for 18-21 year old students who have dropped out of traditional high schools, to design and install solar arrays and give them paid on-the-job experience as we complete all of the school installations.
If you'd like to support the next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs, and can get behind the expansion of solar energy education in schools, consider kicking in a few bucks to the Indiegogo campaign. If you are a sustainability professional and live in the Philadelphia area, there are also volunteer opportunities with PSSI, either as a guest speaker, or to offer class tours of your work site or office.