Undergraduate Student Spotlight – Brendan Abatecola Awarded Solar Fellowship

The whole application process started last winter quarter after I saw a post in the geography newsletter to apply for the fellowship.  As a project lead, I had to form a team of students who were interested in bringing solar to a community serving non-profit in the area.  As a team, we will be hosting a series of events and outreach campaigns to raise awareness about our crowdfunding project so that we can raise the money for the upfront cost of the non-profits solar panels.  Throughout the year we receive guidance and advice from the staff at RE-VOLV in San Francisco over Zoom video conference calls.  Currently there are 11 other similar teams at Universities across the country including; Yale, Duke, University of Oregon, University of Ohio, Dayton, etc. who will be running a similar campaign to fund the solar installation at non-profits around the country.  This is the same fellowship that got solar panels for the IV Food Cooperative a few years ago.

Here’s a list of some of the things we will be doing throughout the year:

  • Reaching out to media outlets/newspapers/news channels to publicize our project
  • Writing grant proposals to local foundations in an attempt to secure funding
  • Collaborating with local businesses as potential sponsors for our project
  • Hosting a Solar Education week during the month of April
  • Reaching out to local politicians and councilmen to come out to our events
  • General outreach to educate people about solar power and how communities can come together to actively fight climate change.

We recently officially became a UCSB club so we will be applying for many of the grants that are available through UCSB and we will also be collaborating with RE-VOLV’s extensive list of partners that include; The Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation, GRID Alternatives, Ginko Solar, The Department of Energy: Sunshot Program, etc.

Since non-profits don’t pay taxes they can’t really claim any of the tax exemption benefits for going solar so they really lack a viable financing option.  By signing a lease with these non-profits to pay back the cost of the installation over a 20 year period, their lease payments go into a revolving “Solar Seed Fund” that will fund the costs of future non- profit solar projects.