On Tuesday, September 19 at Yale University, Leonardo DiCaprio announced that his foundation was providing $20M in a portfolio of grants to more than 100 organizations working to preserve habitats, defend indigenous rights and support innovative grassroots efforts aimed at combatting climate change and solving complex environmental issues.
More than $3.5M went to climate program, including a $120,000 award to the solar nonprofit RE-volv to help the company expand access to affordable solar energy around the United States. The partnership will provide matching funds for RE-volv’s crowdfunding platform, allowing donors the opportunity to double their contributions with the support of academy-award winner Leonardo DiCaprio.
RE-volv helps nonprofits go solar by using seed funding to install solar in vulnerable communities, such as homeless shelters, schools, community centers, and houses of worship. The recipients pay RE-volv for the electricity they use and RE-volv re-invests that money in new solar projects. Founder Andreas Karelas explained the crowdfunding model in an article on RenewableEnergyWorld.com.
This is the largest grant to date for RE-volv, a two-time awardee of the of the US DOE SunShot Initiative.
In addition to financing projects, RE-volv trains college students and community volunteers to become Solar Ambassadors, who in turn lead the on the ground efforts to deploy solar. RE-volv has educated 10,000 people about solar energy through training, outreach, and more than 100 events.
Laura Rigell wrote about her experience as a solar ambassador for RE-volv in an article on RenewableEnergyWorld.com
"The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is excited to support RE-volv,” said Gregory Lopez, Climate Program Director of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. “Not only is their work important in deploying solar energy and reducing greenhouse gasses, their unique model provides an introduction of accessible, renewable energy to new communities."
To date, RE-volv has raised over $300,000 from over 1,000 people in 22 countries, according to the company. It has crowdfunded ten solar projects totaling 150-kW of installed capacity in four states. In total, these ten nonprofits will save more than $1.5 million over the life of their solar energy systems. RE-volv’s solar revolving fund, the Solar Seed Fund, is now worth $650,000 in future lease payments from these ten projects — payments which will be used to finance at least 20 more solar energy projects.