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Grant Applications for 2023 Now Opened by SunPower Foundation

For the past nine years, the SunPower Foundation has provided more than $1 million in grants to organizations in order to increase access to solar energy. At SunPower, we firmly believe that everyone has the right to a future with a livable climate. We recognize that affordable solar energy and opportunities in the solar industry are crucial for building this future. In 2021, we launched 25×25, an initiative focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Its aim is to ensure that the benefits of home solar and storage are available to all Americans, including historically underserved families, job seekers, and businesses. Moving forward, the SunPower Foundation will prioritize three new areas of focus and grant opportunities aligned with our 25×25 goals.

The first area of focus, the Workforce Development track, aims to make solar job opportunities accessible to all. According to IREC’s 2022 Solar Jobs Census, the residential solar workforce grew by 11%. However, women represent only 31% of the industry compared to 47% in the overall economy, and black representation stands at just 8% compared to 11%. To address these disparities, this track will allocate funding to career awareness, vocational training, and STEM education for women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups.

The second area of focus, the Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) track, recognizes the importance of business ownership in achieving economic equity. Black business owners, for example, hold 12 times more wealth than their nonbusiness owning peers. As the solar industry continues to grow, there is a need for more MWBE subcontractors. Currently, only 7.3% of small construction businesses are black owned, and only 5.8% are women owned. This track aims to support non-profits that provide technical assistance, coaching, and business acceleration services to MWBEs in the solar industry.

The third area of focus, the Solar Accessibility, Affordability, and Resiliency track, aims to help communities access affordable and resilient solar energy solutions. Low to moderate income (LMI) communities face barriers such as affordability, lower homeownership rates, and a lack of familiarity with solar products. They are also at higher risk of adverse effects from climate disasters. This track supports non-profits that carry out structural home improvements and solar deployments in LMI or climate-impacted communities. It also includes educational campaigns to raise awareness of the benefits of solar energy.

By committing to these areas of focus, we hope to achieve our 25×25 goals by the end of the 2025 fiscal year. Our goals include reaching 25% black and Latinx representation, as well as 40% women representation in our workforce. We also aim to make up 25% of our new residential customers from disadvantaged communities. Additionally, we strive for 25% of our new dealers and subcontractors to be owned by women or people of color.

The grant application process is now open, and interested parties can submit their applications by October 20, 2023. Qualified applicants will be interviewed by SunPower Foundation staff between October and November, and the grant awardees will be announced in early December.

Some previous recipients of SunPower grants include Grid Alternatives, Solar Energy International, Footprint Project, We Care Solar, and Good Sun + Habitat for Humanity. These organizations have used the funding to train women in solar installation, deploy solar microgrids in climate-impacted communities, and provide solar equipment kits to energy-poor areas.

In conclusion, the SunPower Foundation is dedicated to expanding access to solar energy and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the industry. We believe that through our focused grant tracks, we can make a significant impact in creating a sustainable and equitable future.

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ST Staff Writers
ST Staff Writers
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