Over the last nine years, the SunPower Foundation has awarded over $1 million to organizations in an effort to expand access to solar. At SunPower, we have long believed that a future with a livable climate is a fundamental right, and that access to affordable solar energy and participation in solar economic opportunities are critical to building that future. In pursuit of this goal, in 2021, SunPower launched 25x25, a set of comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments designed to ensure the benefits of home solar and storage serve American families, job seekers, and businesses that have been historically underserved. As we look to the future of the SunPower Foundation, we’ve realigned its resources to better serve our 25x25 goals and are excited to announce three new areas of focus and grant opportunities.
The SunPower Foundation will address systemic inequities and barriers to solar access, affordability, and economic participation through three new grant tracks:
The Workforce Development track ensures that the industry's growing workforce opportunities are accessible for all. IREC’s 2022 Solar Jobs Census found that the residential solar workforce grew by 11%, with employers anticipating this growth trajectory to continue. Women represent 31% of the industry, relative to 47% for the overall economy, and black representation is at 8% in the industry, relative to 11% of the overall economy. This track deploys funding to correct these inequities, by prioritizing funding for career awareness, vocational training, and STEM careers for women, people of color, and other underrepresented identities.
The Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) track identifies business ownership as a crucial step in closing the wealth gap and ensuring economic equity for communities. In fact, it is estimated that black business owners hold 12x the wealth of their nonbusiness owning peers. As solar continues to grow, so does the need for solar and solar adjacent subcontractors. Currently, only 7.3% of small construction businesses are black owned, and only 5.8% are women owned. This track supports non-profits delivering technical assistance, coaching or business accelerator services to installation, supplier, or subcontractor MWBE in the solar industry.
The Solar Accessibility, Affordability, and Resiliency track helps communities access the resources they need for affordable and resilient solar energy solutions. Low to moderate income (LMI) communities are less likely to afford residential solar, have lower homeownership rates, have lower rates of home improvement upgrades, be at higher risk of facing adverse effects from climate disasters, and lack familiarity with solar products. This track supports non-profits conducting structural home improvements and solar deployments in LMI or climate impacted communities, as well as educational awareness campaigns on the benefits of going solar.
By committing to these focus areas, we hope to more quickly achieve our 25x25 goals by the close of the 2025 fiscal year:
Increase diversity in our workforce reaching 25% black and Latinx representation, and 40% women representation
25% of our new U.S. residential customers to be made up of people who live in disadvantaged communities
25% of the new dealers and subcontractors we work with being owned by women or people of color
Grant application process
The grant application is live and will close on October 20, 2023. Interviews with qualified applicants and SunPower Foundation staff will take place between October and November, and grant awardees will be announced in early December.
Initial application due by October 20th, 2023.
Interviews with qualifying applicants and SunPower Foundation staff in October 2023 and November 2023.
Grant awardees announced in early December 2023.
Previous SunPower grantees include:
Grid Alternatives: In 2022 and 2023, we awarded funding to Grid Alternatives to deploy two women’s only cohorts of their Installation Basics Training in Sacramento, CA.
Solar Energy International: In 2022 and 2023, we worked with SEI to launch the SunPower Women in Solar Scholarship. This grant funded scholarships for 37 women to receive in person and virtual solar training.
Footprint Project: In 2021, we deployed a grant to the Footprint Project to support their efforts to deploy solar microgrids in communities impacted by climate change and climate disasters.
We Care Solar: In 2021 and 2022, our colleagues in the Philippines partnered with We Care Solar to work on their We Share Solar Suitcases program. This program deployed suitcases to youth in energy poor communities across the Philippines with solar equipment kits that the students learned how to assemble and use in times of disaster to light up schools, community centers, and refugee camps.
Good Sun + Habitat for Humanity: In 2023, we worked with Good Sun and Habitat for Humanity to deploy 140 panels to 13 affordable housing units in Sacramento and participated in an employee volunteer day.