RE-volv, a climate justice non-profit, closed a $3 million investment to build solar projects for non-profits in underserved communities around the country. The Kresge Foundation and the Schmidt Family Foundation have each invested $1.5 million in program related investment funds to help RE-volv deploy community-based solar at scale across the country.
In the past, non-profits could not take advantage of the investment tax credit, but the Inflation Reduction Act changed that, making solar a much more attractive investment. However, non-profits still face barriers to getting their solar projects financed including difficulty demonstrating credit. RE-volv offers long-term zero down solar financing for non-profits, which allows community-serving organizations to switch to solar power with no up-front costs.
“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.”
The organization aims to help non-profits in underserved communities go solar, while raising awareness about equitable climate solutions and training the next generation of clean energy leaders. RE-volv reports that it has developed and financed solar projects for over 50 non-profits in 14 states, collectively saving them what it estimates to be over $20 million on their electricity bills. Prior to the investment, RE-volv deployed over $10 million for solar projects through its unique solar finance model that exclusively serves the non-profit community.
As a non-profit organization, 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 has supported the organization.
The Schmidt Family Foundation was established in 2006 by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, and it works to restore a balanced relationship between people and the planet. The foundation makes grants and impact investments through two programs: 11th Hour Project and Schmidt Marine Technology Partners, which partners with communities around the world in working for renewable energy, resilient food systems, healthy oceans and the protection of human rights.
“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.
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. The Kresge Foundation first announced its commitment in October as part of a $7 million package of investments to boost community solar in disadvantaged communities. “Investments are intended to accelerate a just energy transition by providing capital and other supports to co-developer organizations with strong community partnerships, an identified market, and a readiness to scale the number of climate finance projects in the community,” the Foundation said in a news release.
“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.
Last year the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced support for three non-profits as part of the third round of the Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN). The focus of the third round of the SEIN is to help disadvantaged communities overcome barriers to equitable adoption of solar, including funding, as non-profits face particular barriers to accessing solar financing. RE-volv was one of the three selected and received a multi-year contract from NREL for its initiative to help BIPOC-led houses of worship go solar. The two other groups to receive support are Interfaith Power & Light and Green The Church.
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