Honnold Foundation Receives $2 Million to Bring Solar Power to Underserved Communities – pv magazine USA

The gift to the famous mountaineer’s charity will launch the Levine Impact Lab, which plans to collaborate with 50 initiatives around the world by 2050, working to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The Honnold Foundation (HF) was founded ten years ago by professional climber Alex Honnold with a mission to work with marginalized communities to expand equitable access to solar energy.

Over the past three years, the Honnold Foundation has helped 48 partners in more than 20 different countries and territories use solar energy to build equity, increase climate resilience and support communities’ right to self-determination. The foundation doubled its grantmaking this year to fund $2 million in solar energy projects.

PSYDEH is one of the HF partners. This organization in the Sierra Madres of Hidalgo, Mexico, working with women in indigenous areas. With the support of HF and in direct collaboration with women leaders, PSYDEH is bringing five solar-powered technology hubs to communities that previously lacked access to most information and computing technologies, including the Internet.

Another partner, Coalfield Development, is based in the coal country of West Virginia and is dedicated to investing in neighborhoods that face barriers to prosperity. In 2020, HF funded a large-scale solar array for Coalfield Development’s West Edge community facility and supported a solar job training program. This year, HF is helping Coalfield Development build solar power on mountain sites affected by the mine.

In recent news, the foundation announced that venture capitalist (VC) Peter Levine is providing a multi-million dollar gift over the next three years to launch the Levine Impact Lab in partnership with the Honnold Foundation. The lab intends to provide long-term support to organizations and individual leaders who might otherwise have access to best-in-class resources typically reserved for VC-funded startups.

“The impacts of climate change are being felt in every corner of the world, with rising temperatures, increased frequency of natural disasters, food and water insecurity and economic disruption,” Honnold said. “Meanwhile, communities on the front lines of the climate crisis are receiving the least support, despite the efforts of grassroots organizations and community leaders.”

“I have been involved with the Honnold Foundation and a supporter of Alex’s vision for a long time, and the Lab is an evolution of our long-standing relationship,” said Levine. “In my work, I have seen that money plus time equals the best result. So it’s not just about donating dollars, it’s about our team being willing to bring best-in-class venture capital and company-building concepts to nonprofits, striving to achieve the best results for organizations that we serve.”

The lab has announced its initial cohort of national partners who will participate in a three-year program to strengthen their skills in strategy, operations and governance, as well as executive coaching and leadership development.

Among the initial cohort of internal partners, the Lab will work with core organizations that include:

  • Native Renewables, an organization that empowers Native American families in the Hopi and Navajo Nations to achieve energy independence by improving access to solar energy and providing off-grid power solutions.
  • BK Rot, Inc., a Brooklyn-based non-profit, transforms organic waste from local businesses into high-quality compost while providing employment opportunities and valuable experience to low-income communities.
  • Chicago-based Eco House, which encourages bottom-up economic development in the under-resourced Englewood neighborhood by turning vacant lots into flower farms and employing local youth to grow, maintain and sell their produce.

Commenting on her organization’s enrollment in the lab, Suzanne Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Native Renewables, said: “We are thrilled to be part of the first lab cohort! This type of investment is so valuable to smaller nonprofits, we are excited to apply the resources and tools we acquire over the next three years to increase our impact in tribal communities.”

The lab plans to collaborate with 50 initiatives around the world by 2050, working to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 7 and 13, described as ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, and taking urgent action. to combat climate change and its impacts.

In addition to the launch of the Impact Lab, the Honnold Foundation plans to continue to strategically target community-based solar energy projects, with an emphasis on community-led projects that are located in traditionally underfunded regions facing the immediate effects of the climate crisis .

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