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Thoughts about starting a solar non-profit

Avatar for Dave Llorens
Published on 08/15/2008 in
Updated 08/15/2008



Students just out of college or other altruistic career changers who really want to make a difference contact us every week, asking for our thoughts regarding new ways they can inform others about solar. Check out an email I received just a few short hours ago:

My goal in life is to start a Non-Profit organization that reaches out
towards high school students, but welcomes anyone interested into a
renewable energy training program. I’m an Electrician, so basically all I
can contribute at the moment is Solar, but I would like to eventually expand
to all aspects of renewable energy. Students would learn theory, and get
hands on experience, ideally installing solar panels for the community using
donations, and possibly tuition money.. I could go on forever ranting and
raving about what I’d like to do with it, I don’t want to waste your time
because it’s really all a fantasy right now, but I think it’s a pretty good
idea. If I had the opportunity to do this out of high school I definitely
would have, and so would have a number of my friends. The whole idea that I
have is that the organization would eventually act as a company, it would
get solar jobs, the students would be charged out at a reasonable rate, and
paid a reasonable wage!
, all profits after overhead would be donated to the advancement of
renewable fuels and education.

I’m almost 25, I’d like to see it happening before I’m 30, but I really have
no idea where to start. I want your honest opinion on the idea. Do you have
any suggestions? How could I go about getting some sort of funding for a
project like this?

– Dave Dugan

First off, this is a damn good idea Dave Dugan. If others of you think generation Y is full of a bunch of ringtone searching, videogame obsessed, gossiping malevolents, check your head and consider how much passion really came from Dave there. If more people shared his sentiments and fervor across the country, we’d be in a lot better place fiscally and environmentally. Regarding ideas for him, I immediately thought of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, simply because it has been drilled into my head over and over again by everyone from Terry Gross to Garrison Keillor of NPR. Their mission is to create a more just, peaceful, and verdant world. Sounds like there would be some synergy with that last bit, no? I’d begin by picking up the phone and calling them and describing your ideas. They should be able to steer you in the right direction. Dave (the co-editor here at SPR) also suggested the following:

“Research for becoming a non profit, and research possible grants
for beginning.I’m a fan of trade schools, which is what this is essentially although a
non-profit trade school.In San Francisco, there are city workforce development programs. Talking to someone at your city hall about this may also be a route to take. Search for
city workforce programs such as this and get in touch with the people who started
them. Use the phone. These are the best off-the-top-of-my-head things I can think of.”

Last modified: August 15, 2008

9 thoughts on “Thoughts about starting a solar non-profit

  1. Avatar for Jorge castillon Jorge castillon says:

    Hello Dave. I have the same Idea. it is just that I’m counselor I know about people, human behaviors, social change but not about solar energy or electricity. so maybe we can make a good time. I’m ready to star. I live in Vegas. my name is Jorge castillon.

  2. Avatar for Daniel Dempsey Daniel Dempsey says:

    I am looking into starting a non-profit solar panel installation company here in Missouri. The biggest road block to people getting solar is the incredibly high mark up solar installers charge. 150% mark up over cost is wrong. Just because this company would be a non-profit does not mean the customers would not have to pay for it, they just would not be having to pay the profit mark up. I could have a crew of very well paid installers and still be able to make solar affordable to people. The local electric provider is currently paying $2.00 per watt installed for solar, so being able to purchase equipment at discounted pricing because of being a non-profit, along with that $2.00 per watt rebate and the 30% tax credit, the final price to a homeowner would be a very cost effective deal and a great investment.

  3. Avatar for Eric B Eric B says:

    I hope you read this somehow. We should talk. I am planning on doing the exact same thing. I don’t have capital but I have a degree in renewables, the NABCEP certification, and the willingness to install solar for free for people in developing/third world countries. If you or anyone else reads this, please contact me @ [email protected] … Thanks

  4. Avatar for Roshan Roshan says:

    I’m a physics student, fanatic about getting involved in the renewable energy industry. I would love to work for a non-profit organisation, it should be able to out compete it’s rivals on price.

  5. Avatar for Bo Bo says:

    I’ve been looking into working with a non-profit installing renewable energy sources in developing countries. So it would mainly be solar but if feasible wind or microhydro as well. Hopefully from there it would branch off to other environmentally friendly options such as grey water, compost toilets, strawbale construction, etc. From my searches I haven’t come up with much and the ones there are are pretty hard to get into so that leaves starting one up. Anyone interested? Seriously, it looks like a lot of hard work, a huge commitment, and a loooong road ahead. But I’m willing.

  6. Avatar for david david says:

    let’s talk

  7. Avatar for Paul Paul says:

    I have a vision of a non-profit organization wich will donate and install pv grid-tie systm on homes at no cost to the home owners. This organization will raise money threw various ways and donate these system as well as training the man power needed. I have twoo other partners and we are always looking for volunteers as well as paid positions.If you have an idea and you need help implementing it maybe I can help.

  8. Avatar for Nathan Land Nathan Land says:

    Wow, I was searching google to do research on solar panels for a non profit idea. I have a similar vision. I just need the raw data. I also think I need to form a board as well. People will tell you need VC’s. Those people are confused, angel investors are what you need. Or at least that is what I gathered from my research. You should also find as many informal advisers as you can get.

    Funny I am 25 as well, good luck man. Maybe we can form A think tank.

  9. Avatar for Wendy Wendy says:

    I’d also suggest checking out different business school programs, forums, events they have on social entrepreneurship. I attended some events hosted by Berkeley and Stanford and found them to be quite eye-opening. People(speakers) are very open in sharing their experiences. You may also get some ideas from them.

    Some reference links:

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