Leonardo DiCaprio Gives $20M to Climate-focused Organizations

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. 

 

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Jennifer Runyon
Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com Today, in addition to managing content on Renewable Energy World and POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference and expo for the transmission and distribution industry. In her role, she works in close cooperation with a large team of committed industry executives to shape the educational content for the event. She also helps assemble the renewable energy content for POWERGEN and helped launch the first Grid-Scale Storage Summit, a co-located event at HYDROVISION International. She has traveled to Germany to see onshore and offshore wind installations; Iceland to see geothermal energy in action; and France to see cutting-edge smart grids. In the U.S. she has visited and reported about bioenergy power plants in Florida, both large-scale and small-scale hydropower; and multiple wind farms, solar PV, and CSP installations. Formerly, she was the managing editor of Innovate Forum, an online publication that focused on innovation in manufacturing. Prior to that she was the managing editor at Desktop Engineering magazine. In 2008, she won an "Eddy Award" for her editing work on an article about solar trees in Vienna. In 2010, RenewableEnergyWorld.com was awarded an American Business Media Neal Award for its eNewsletters, which were created under her direction. She holds a Master's Degree in English Education from Boston University and a BA in English from the University of Virginia.

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