GivePower, a non-profit foundation by SolarCity that provides solar-powered lighting to schools in the developing world will offer lighting to 1,000 additional schools thanks to a $500,000 donation by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the company announced. By the end of 2015, a total of 1,500 schools will get free lighting through GivePower's program.
The SolarCity non-profit donates solar panels, batteries and lighting equipment to schools in the developing world to make education available during the night and in the early morning hours. The solar-power generated lighting also makes possible the creation of night-time gathering places.
According to Your Renewable News, GivePower helped light 511 schools in Africa and Central America in 2014 and now with the donation from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the non-profit will bring light to 1,000 more schools in Mali, Nicaragua, Kenya, Haiti, Uganda, Nigeria, Malawi, Nepal and Ghana.
The $500,000 grant will help GivePower to offer solar training and implement solar power R&D in countries with off-the-grid communities. It will also fund school lighting projects and offer its solar equipment to support them.
According to the official press statement by SolarCity, about 291 million children go to schools with no electricity while 1.3 billion people across the globe live without any access to electricity. Already the non-profit has met its first year goal to offer solar power systems to an off-the-grid school for each megawatt of solar power system it installs:
"For every megawatt of residential solar power SolarCity installs in 2014, the GivePower Foundation will donate a solar power system and battery to a school without electricity," the company states on its official website.
Since it became a 501(c)(3), GivePower accepts donations from the public. Hayes Barnard, SolarCity's Chief Revenue Officer and GivePower Foundation President, said about the generous donation received:
"With this commitment, we are able to expand our program, bringing light to even more schools and communities in need."
Anne Finucane, Vice Chairman and Global Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at the Bank of America said that the partnership opens up possibilities:
"Education is vital to empowering communities and forming tomorrow's leaders, and we are excited to play a role in ensuring these schools have lighting for the first time. Our new partnership with GivePower Foundation is bringing clean energy to the developing world and is part of our broader strategy to help finance the transition to lower-carbon economies."
For SolarCity and the GivePower Foundation, bringing electricity to schools means that schools can extend the classes they offer, can retain their educators and gain access to educational resources on the web to improve the quality of education they provide to students.
Apart from SolarCity, other companies have taken initiatives to bring solar power to communities that are off the grid. First Solar has a charitable project that distributes cash and equipment donations to nonprofits to help encourage and establish solar-powered communities in regions in need.
SunPower runs 3S, a low-cost project that offers rechargeable solar lanterns in Smokey Mountain, a dumpsite with about 30,000 residents.