Strategy intends to bring greater capital access to solar solutions in partnership with community-based entities
TROY, MICH. — A new suite of grants and social investments announced today from The Kresge Foundation will bring millions of dollars in investments to the solar movement in communities of color and those with low wealth in American cities.
The 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. “Co-developers” are groups working to educate a constituency about clean energy and those working on designing, facilitating, financing and managing solar, solar+storage and community solar systems.
The goal is to ensure that communities of color and those with low wealth are not left behind in the transition to clean energy and energy resilience. By improving co-developer organizations’ business models, they can take on more deals, and learn and scale the impact of community-based solar in underserved markets.
“We want to ensure that communities of color and disinvested communities have equitable access to public and private capital for climate and energy needs,” said Joe Evans, Kresge’s Social Investment Practice portfolio director and social investment officer. “As a country, we will not reach our climate goals if the focus is only on wealthy people and places and large corporations. We envision a future where a robust network of co-developers makes the latest technology and approaches to clean energy, efficiency and resilience available in BIPOC communities and communities with low wealth in American cities.”
Kresge has prioritized for investment organizations that provide education, design, oversight, and financing of resilient energy systems for critical community facilities.
“Energy affects everything we do, and our lives depend on it,” said Jessica Boehland, a senior program officer in Kresge’s Environment Program. “It is critical that we produce energy in ways that don’t release carbon dioxide and other pollutants. Climate change and air pollution overburden people of color and low-wealth communities, which are more likely to face high energy burdens, experience intermittent power loss, and live adjacent to polluting energy sources. Financing a just and accelerated transition to clean energy is imperative for the health and well-being of all communities.”
On Wednesday, Kresge announced $7 million in new social investments to support entities that co-develop solar projects in underserved areas across the U.S. The entities receiving investment are:
- Collective Energy, an Ojai, CA.-based startup, will receive a $2 million program-related investment loan and a $1 million guarantee to bring solar+storage to federally qualified health centers and community health centers;
- RE-volv, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, will receive a $1.5 million program-related investment loan and a $1 million guarantee to bring solar to BIPOC houses of worship, and other community-serving nonprofits, in partnership with Green the Church and Interfaith Power & Light; and
- Working Power Impact Fund, a Washington, D.C.-based subsidiary of Urban Ingenuity will receive a $1.1 million program-related investment loan to bring community solar to environmental justice groups and affordable housing developments. The first loan will support a community solar project at Uprose, a Kresge grantee partner whose mission is focused on urban policy to support climate adaptation and community resilience.
These investments are supported by Kresge’s Social Investment Practice in partnership with the Kresge Environment and Health Programs. In 2023, the foundation is exploring a grantmaking strategy in alignment with this work. Follow Kresge at Kresge.org and on Twitter @kresgefdn for updates.
“The support from The Kresge Foundation will be catalytic for Collective Energy’s work in bringing cleaner, more reliable, and more affordable energy to the nonprofit health centers that serve the most vulnerable people in our communities,” said Andrew MacCalla, CEO of Collective Energy. “This infusion of low-cost capital will help solar+storage projects happen in low-income communities and communities of color that are disproportionally impacted by power outages. And even beyond the funding, the endorsement from Kresge, a true leader in this intersection of climate and equity and health, will prove the work is not only possible but also scalable and will pave the way for others to follow suit.”
“Building a sustainable clean energy economy that reverses the worst impacts of the mounting climate crisis will require trillions of dollars of new investment. The jury is out whether these new flows of capital will grow wealth and renew economic opportunity in frontline communities that carry the burdens of redlining and disinvestment,” said Bracken Hendricks co-founder of Working Power and Managing Partner of Urban Ingenuity. “The Working Power Impact Fund is proud to support our community partners in charting their path to a better future through direct local ownership. We applaud Kresge for its leadership and vision as early investors in climate solutions that center racial and economic justice through clean energy democracy.”
“For over a decade, RE-volv has worked to bring cost-saving solar energy to community-based nonprofits around the country that serve as critical infrastructure in their communities,” said Andreas Karelas, founder and executive director of RE-volv. “This investment by Kresge will supercharge our efforts, magnify our impact, and accelerate the deployment of climate justice solutions so desperately needed at this time.”