Investment will prioritize financing solar installations for nonprofits and BIPOC-led houses of worship, supporting recent RE-volv funding from the U.S. Department of Energy
San Francisco, February 21, 2023 – RE-volv, a national nonprofit solar provider, closed a $3M investment today from two of the nation’s leading climate philanthropies, The Kresge Foundation and the Schmidt Family Foundation. This Program Related Investment (PRI) will finance solar installations for nonprofits in underserved communities across the country; this investment will build momentum on a contract with the Department of Energy to bring solar to BIPOC-led houses of worship in an effort to bring faith-based groups further into the clean energy movement and accelerate equitable solar adoption.
“To date, the benefits of clean energy have eluded so many, especially in low-income communities and communities of color, due to a lack of financing options available,” said Andreas Karelas, founder and executive director of RE-volv. “This historic investment demonstrates that now is the time to deploy capital in clean energy projects that benefit frontline communities and vulnerable populations.”
RE-volv’s long-term zero down solar financing for nonprofits allow community-serving organizations to switch to solar power with no up-front costs. Participating organizations have achieved immediate electricity savings of at least 15% and often higher.
“Climate change overburdens people of color and low-wealth communities, which are more likely to face power affordability issues, experience intermittent power loss, and live adjacent to polluting energy sources that impact health,” said Joe Evans, portfolio director and social investment officer at The Kresge Foundation, which first announced its commitment in October as part of a $7 million package of investments to boost community-led solar. “Financing a just transition to clean energy is imperative for the health and well-being of all communities. Investing into community-serving nonprofits ensures the benefits of solar will meet communities where the need is greatest.”
Research has shown that in the United States, Black- and Hispanic-majority census tracts have installed significantly less rooftop solar than other tracts, even after accounting for wealth disparity. This $3M investment in solar installation for nonprofits and BIPOC-led houses of worship aims to be a catalyst for expanded equitable solar adoption and bring the benefits of solar power to communities most in need of lower energy bills, jobs, improved air quality, and increased resilience in the face of ever more extreme extreme weather events.
RE-volv, a climate justice nonprofit based in San Francisco, brings deep solar finance experience and expertise from more than a decade of developing solar projects for community-based nonprofits across the country. RE-volv has installed over 3.5MW of solar capacity for over 50 nonprofits in 14 states, saving these organizations $20M collectively. Prior to this $3M investment, RE-volv deployed over $10M for solar projects through its unique solar finance model that exclusively serves nonprofits.
“We’re thrilled that RE-volv will be using new mapping tools developed in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to identify the areas and communities in which solar projects will have the most meaningful and measurable positive impact,” said Jamie Dean, managing director, impact investments at 11th Hour Project, a program of the Schmidt Family Foundation.
Nonprofits nationwide face many barriers to getting their solar projects financed including difficulty demonstrating credit, projects that are considered too small for typical commercial solar financiers, and long sales cycles. Starting this year, with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, nonprofits are now able to take advantage of the solar Investment Tax Credit, which had previously been a major barrier to nonprofit solar adoption.
In January 2022, RE-volv was selected to the Solar Energy Innovation Network of the U.S. Department of Energy and received a multi-year contract from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for its initiative to help BIPOC-led houses of worship go solar, along with its two long-standing partners, Interfaith Power & Light and Green The Church.
As a nonprofit, RE-volv supports its operations primarily through philanthropic support. The Schmidt Family Foundation was one of RE-volv’s first major supporters, and The Kresge Foundation also supports RE-volv philanthropically.
Community-serving nonprofits and houses of worship interested in going solar should contact RE-volv to explore solar financing options available.
RE-volv is a climate justice nonprofit that helps nonprofits in underserved communities across the country go solar, while raising awareness about equitable climate solutions, and training the next generation of clean energy leaders. To date, RE-volv has developed and financed solar projects for over 50 nonprofits in 14 states, collectively saving them over $20 Million on their electricity bills, allowing them to better serve their 50,000 beneficiaries. The 3.5MW of solar installed will avoid 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide over the life of the systems. RE-volv also raises awareness about solar energy through its flagship Solar Ambassador Program, which trains college students and volunteers of all ages to help nonprofits they care about go solar.
RE-volv is an inaugural member of the White House National Community Solar Partnership and is a current member of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Innovation Network. Learn more at re-volv.org.
About The Kresge Foundation
The Kresge Foundation was founded in 1924 to promote human progress. Today, Kresge fulfills that mission by building and strengthening pathways to opportunity for low-income people in America’s cities, seeking to dismantle structural and systemic barriers to equality and justice. Using a full array of grant, loan, and other investment tools, Kresge invests more than $160 million annually to foster economic and social change. For more information visit Kresge.org.
About the Schmidt Family Foundation
Established in 2006 by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, the Schmidt Family Foundation works to restore a balanced relationship between people and planet. Through grantmaking and investments, the foundation partners with communities around the world in working for renewable energy, resilient food systems, healthy oceans and the protection of human rights. The foundation makes grants and impact investments through two programs: 11th Hour Project and Schmidt Marine Technology Partners.