East Oakland’s Faith Baptist Church unveiled solar panels on Sunday, obtained through a crowdfunding campaign from the solar nonprofit RE-volv with the support of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Church representatives were joined by Oakland City Councilmember Desley Brooks, Green the Church Founder, Rev. Ambrose Carroll, and Interfaith Power & Light Founder, Sally Bingham. The panels are expected by cut the community nonprofit’s electricity bills in half.
“Lowering our electricity bill will add to the bottom line in our organization’s budget,” said Rev. Curtis Robinson, pastor of Faith Baptist Church, which feeds over 300 hungry families every month and distributes more than 100 tons of food every year through their bi-weekly Food Giving Program. “With the savings from solar energy, we plan to better serve our youth, young adults and seniors, some of our community’s most underserved populations.”
RE-volv raised 125% of its $18,000 funding goal in one day, thanks in part to matching funds from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. The 6-kW solar array is expected to save Faith Baptist Church more than 50% on their electricity bills in the first year and more than $40,000 over the life of the system. In addition to Faith Baptist’s monthly savings, RE-volv’s unique revolving fund model means the church’s solar payments will be reinvested into more solar energy projects for nonprofits across the country.
“It is gratifying to directly support a project that will benefit so many in the community for decades to come,” said Sonja Marwood, who was the Faith Baptist Church project’s “Solar Champion,” a program lead by RE-volv that trains young leaders to solarize a local nonprofit. Marwood now works with solar installer SunWork Renewable Energy Projects.
To date, RE-volv has crowdfunded 11 solar projects (150+ kW of capacity) in four states and signed 17 solar leases in six states. Thanks to the solar installations, these 11 nonprofits are expected to save between 15 and 50 percent on their electric bills, totaling more than $1.5 million of savings over the life of the energy systems. RE-volv’s solar revolving fund, the Solar Seed Fund, is now worth over $700,000 in future lease payments, which will be used to finance at least 20 more solar energy projects.
“RE-volv is working to make sure that the benefits of solar can reach everywhere, including nonprofit organizations that support underserved communities,” said Andreas Karelas, executive director of RE-volv. “Faith Baptist Church is an inspiring example of people in a community coming together to help their neighbors who are less fortunate.”
An estimated 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. face financial barriers to obtaining solar power as they do not qualify for solar tax credits or are too small to attract traditional investors. These nonprofits miss out on the financial benefits of solar, which could instead be used to further support the communities they serve. RE-volv’s model helps bridge this funding gap for organizations that provide valuable public services to vulnerable communities, including homeless shelters (like Oakland’s Harbor House), schools, community centers, and houses of worship, like Faith Baptist Church.
News item from RE-volv