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CFSA and Partners Invest $630,000 To Bring Solar Power To Seven Local Nonprofits

The Community Foundation for Southern Arizona and our partners are thrilled to announce that $630,000 will be invested to provide solar installations for the following nonprofit organizations through the Nonprofit Solar Project. 

The Nonprofit Solar Project offers local nonprofits the opportunity to meet a significant portion of their energy needs through solar power. By switching to solar, the selected nonprofits will reduce their carbon footprint and energy costs, freeing up resources for programming or other infrastructure needs.

The initiative was developed by the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona in partnership with Solar United Neighbors and is funded primarily through generous support from an anonymous CFSA donor. To help expand the project’s reach, Tucson Foundations has contributed an additional $100,000, and Tucson Electric Power has contributed $15,000 towards this year’s funding.

“For the selected nonprofits, the installation of solar power is like a monthly gift through reduced energy costs for decades to come,” shared Jenny Flynn, President and CEO of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona. Flynn continued, “Our partnership with Tucson Foundations, Tucson Electric Power, and other contributors to our Environmental Sustainability Impact Fund allowed for a significant level of funding in the project’s first year. We are extremely grateful for their support.”

“Tucson Foundations is supporting this new solar project due to the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona’s continued leadership and collaboration in creating extraordinary philanthropic opportunities,” shared Jennifer Lohse, Vice President of External Relations at Tucson Foundation. Lohse continued, “We are especially excited to support this initiative and the work at Emerge! Center Against Domestic Violence because every dollar not spent on utilities can be reinvested into the missions of these remarkable nonprofits.”

Ed Sakwa, Chief Executive Officer at Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse shared, “We believe that serving this community in a way that is inclusive, responsible, and equitable requires that our operations also be sustainable. Going solar will allow Emerge to lessen our carbon footprint and the energy costs of operating a facility that serves survivors 24/7/365.” Sakwa continued, “Emergency shelter can mean the difference between remaining in an abusive situation and facing homelessness for many of the people we serve. Equipping our emergency shelter with solar energy will lower the cost of operating this vital service—making it a more sustainable resource for those who need it.”

Over the past few months, a special community committee guided by Solar United Neighbors reviewed more than 70 applications and conducted site visits with applicants to assess the location, size, and unique needs of each installation. Now that year-one grantees have been determined, Solar United Neighbors will work with them to select solar installers.

Bret Fanshaw, Arizona Program Director for Solar United Neighbors, shared, “We were thrilled to receive so much interest from a variety of organizations in going solar and couldn’t be more excited to help these seven incredible nonprofits make their solar vision a reality.” Fanshaw continued, “We can’t wait to see the installations go up and their energy savings kick in. We’re hopeful there will be opportunities in the future to help more nonprofits benefit from free, clean, and locally produced energy.”

“So many of our nonprofit partners are focused on sustainable practices and doing what’s right for the planet,” said Wendy Erica Werden, Manager of Community Investment and Philanthropy at Tucson Electric Power. Werden continued, “This is one way they can accomplish those goals and redirect more of their operating costs toward meeting the critical needs of our community.”

Elizabeth Slater, Chief Executive Officer at Youth On Their Own, shared, “We are so excited and thankful to be a recipient of this unique funding! Going solar will provide multiple benefits and is a long-term investment in YOTO’s financial sustainability and environmental footprint.” Slater continued, “The energy savings gained by a solar parking lot will dramatically reduce our overhead costs. As a result, YOTO will be able to redirect more funding towards our mission of helping Pima County’s youth experiencing homelessness to stay in school.”

For the recipients of the Nonprofit Solar Project grant, this funding not only helps put money into their programs, but they hope to inspire other organizations to switch to solar as well. “With this tremendous grant from the Nonprofit Solar Project, we will save approximately $6,400/year in electricity and will redirect these funds to The Drawing Studio’s Equity Arts programming,” shared Emiel Brott, Executive Director of the Drawing Studio. “The Drawing Studio believes that the time has come for all organizations to lead the way towards a sustainable future. With this grant, we will be a neighborhood example of how to be a solar energy champion,” Brott continued.

Representatives from the BICAS Collective shared, “For over 30 years, BICAS has not only preached the gospel of environmental stewardship but has lived it daily by rescuing bicycles and bike parts that would have ended up in a landfill. Having our operations powered by solar energy is another decisive step in our long-game organizational commitment to sustainability.”

When asked about her long-term goals for the project, CFSA President and CEO Jenny also stated, “Two of the most significant barriers to a vibrant Southern Arizona are environmental risks and inequity. By coming together through CFSA’s Environmental Sustainability Impact Fund, members of our generous community have directly and simultaneously addressed those barriers by connecting these seven nonprofit organizations with technology that saves them dollars and reduces their environmental impact. We envision a solar-powered nonprofit sector grounded in environmental self-sufficiency. I believe that through the power of collective giving, we can make that vision a reality.”

About Community Foundation for Southern Arizona

Since 1980, the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona has supported Southern Arizona with over $230 million in grants and scholarships, stewarding the philanthropic legacy of our community’s generous donors and increasing the breadth and depth of resources available to nonprofit organizations in our region. From trust-based funding through our CORE Grants Program to professional training through the Center for Healthy Nonprofits to community convenings at our solar-powered Campus, CFSA is committed to helping individuals, families, and businesses work together to create an equitable and vibrant community for all Southern Arizonans. For more information, visit or call 520-770-0800.

About Solar United Neighbors

Solar United Neighbors (SUN) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help people go solar, join together, and fight for their energy rights. We have deep experience helping people and organizations go solar. Through our over 350 solar co-ops (bulk-purchase programs), we have directly helped more than 7,400 homeowners go solar across the country.