Solar 4R Schools Application Process
Solar 4R Schools Program
Solar 4R Schools aims to inspire a new generation of clean energy leaders with the insight and innovative thinking necessary to solve our most pressing energy challenges. We do so by empowering educators with teacher training, teacher-generated classroom activities, access to real-time energy generation data from more than 200 projects nationwide and hands-on science kits that allow educators to bring renewable energy topics to life for their students. Our vision is to bring high quality, hands-on renewable energy education into every classroom in the nation.
Solar 4R Schools does not simply provide cash grants. Solar 4R Schools provides selected schools with funding to cover the project (with local match) for the teacher professional development training and resources, ongoing content/technical support, and project management of the installation of a demonstration-scale PV systems provided through participation in the program.
Before You Apply—What to Expect
Solar 4R Schools accepts Renewable Classroom and Renewable School project applications from K-12 public or private schools throughout the U.S. on an ongoing basis. Applications are only accepted from our website; paper applications will not be considered. Solar 4R Schools support is provided to eligible schools as funding matches become available. Decisions are tied to the designated application review as indicated below (Deadlines and Notifications). At the end of each review period, all applicants will be informed of the status of their application. In the case where matching funding is not yet available, strong applications may be profiled in our pool of “Projects Needing Funding” until funding is acquired.
Before you apply, please review the information on this page thoroughly to understand how these projects are awarded, requirements for school participation and what you can expect should you receive support for your project.
Types of Applications
Please note that are two separate types of Solar 4R Schools applications: the Renewable School application, which includes the installation of a demonstration photovoltaic system at your school, data monitoring of the array, and teacher training and science kit materials. The total value for these projects is aproximately $75k with $15k coming from the applicant match and $50,000 coming from BEF funds. A touch-screen kiosk to display live solar energy data at the project site is also available with an additional applicant match. The typical photovoltaic system size has been between 7-12kW depending on local cost variables.
The Renewable Classroom application is for schools that interested in the science kit materials and teacher training that the Solar 4R Schools program can offer, but who are not seeking support for an on-site photovoltaic system. The total value for these projects is aproximately $10,000 coming from BEF funds, with no applicant match.
For schools who already have a photovoltaic system and want to augment their existing project with data monitoring, teacher training and science kit materials, there is a seperate section of the Renewable Classroom application called Renewable Classroom PLUS. The total value for these projects is aproximately $23,500 with $3,500 coming from the applicant match and $20,000 coming from BEF funds. A touch-screen kiosk to display live solar energy data at the project site is also available with an additional applicant match.
There are special applications for school projects located in some utility service territories. In other cases, utilities may have independent programs that you can also submit applications for a school solar project, however the parameters and expectations of those programs vary with each program.
Deadlines and Notifications
There is a limited amount of funding support for the full-scale Renewable School projects (teacher training, science kits, and PV and data monitoring), and the competetion for these resources has grown over the years. BEF will accept applications for Renewable School and Renewable Classroom projects year-round. The application review and notification cycle occurs twice each year.
Please note: The application review and notification cycle has been updated.
- For applications submitted between 1/1 and 6/15: Notification on or before 9/30
- For applications submitted between 6/16 and 12/31: Notification on or before 3/31
**Special Deadline for Applicants in Idaho Power Territory**
Please note that applicants where the host school is served by Idaho Power Company have a different deadline. The Solar 4R Schools program will be accepting applications for the 2015 project cycle through March 1st, 2015. There is a separate application specifically for Idaho Power schools entitled "Idaho Power Applications." It is identical to the regular application, and so if you have already begun working on a "Renewable School Application" that is fine. Feel free to complete the application you've already begun and send an email to s4rs(at)b-e-f.org when you submit the application letting us know that you wish to be considered in the Idaho Power Company pool.
**Important Note for Applicants in Pacific Power and Rocky Mountain Power Territory**
One possible resource to investigate for support for your solar school project in Pacific Power’s service area and Rocky Mountain Power’s Idaho service area is the Blue Sky Community Project funds program. Guidelines can vary year-to-year and there is no guarantee that funding will be available every year. Applications are accepted during a specific time period. Please see the Blue Sky Community Project funds website for details.
If you propose to pair a Blue Sky application with a Solar 4R Schools application, you will need to apply for and secure funding through both programs independently. Please note that you would need to be successful in both application processes to receive funding for the solar installation and renewable energy education components of your proposal. Additionally, we recommend that you make any and all other anticipated funding sources aware of your intent to apply for funding.
Renewable School Eligibility Requirements
Not every school facility is a good fit for the installation of a photovoltaic (PV) system. Minimum application requirements for a Renewable School project include:
- The host school must be utility grid-tied (we do not fund off-grid facilities). Applicants are required to provide information about their electric utility.
- The host school must either own the facility where the PV system will be installed or be empowered by the facility owner to undertake the installation of an on-site PV system.
- The host school must be willing to assume ownership of the PV system following its installation and maintain it for a minimum of 10 years.
- The host school must have broadband Internet access. The school must also be willing to put the energy monitoring system on its network and maintain it for a minimum of 10 years.
- All applicants and hosts are expected and assumed to be in compliance with equal opportunity, environmental and other laws.
- BEF expects that host schools carry out their activities in a manner that reflects a broad concern for environmental values.
What We Look for in a Partner School
In addition to meeting our eligibility requirements noted above, in selecting and awarding new project schools, we look for applicants with a demonstrated commitment to renewable energy education. Applicants should demonstrate alignment with the Solar 4R Schools mission as well as a broader commitment to sustainability and renewable energy. Our best school partners have a unique capacity to leverage the educational resources we provide into as many classrooms within their school or district as possible, with a plan to transfer ownership of the role should the Teacher Champion move on.
The Role of the Teacher Champion
Our program aims to inspire a new generation of leaders, engineers, innovators and citizens that understand the critically important energy issues that will shape the future of our world. Since we can’t achieve this mission without the support of our partner educators, we seek schools where teachers and administrators are able to demonstrate their commitment to this mission.
To this end, we ask that each project school elect a Teacher Champion who will serve as our key point of contact, and who is willing to champion the program’s adoption by as many educators in their school as possible. Specifically, we are seeking Teacher Champion partners who can support the following activities:
- Post a brief, annual “Classroom Update” to your project’s web profile page at Solar4RSchools.org to describe recent methods and activities you’ve used to teach renewable energy in the classroom
- Inspire other educators to attend the Solar 4R Schools teacher training at your school
- Work with the Solar 4R Schools team to identify the best-fit science kit materials to share within your school
- Encourage educators within your school to utilize the resources available on the Solar4RSchools.org website
How our Projects are Funded
Each Solar 4R Schools project is funded by the generous financial commitment of our corporate, utility and foundation funding partners. BEF continually seeks out funding partners who are a good fit for existing project applications. In addition, we may solicit applications from a specific region upon the request of a funding partner that wishes to establish a project in a region of interest.
Funding partners work with BEF to select one or more project schools that fit well with their business or funding goals. BEF provides our funding partners with predetermined opportunities to gain brand exposure (through logo placement) in exchange for their financial commitment, including recognition on our website and, in some cases, co-branded signage or touchscreen kiosks installed at the PV system host facility.
What to expect from Solar 4R Schools and BEF
Once your school's proposal for a Solar 4R Schools project has been funded, you will work in partnership with an assigned project manager for the PV installation and data monitoring, and a program manager for the educational portion of your project. You can expect exceptional communication from your project managers, who will serve as great technical and educational resources for you through the duration of your project.
How and When to Apply
If you are an educator or school administrator interested in applying to receive whole or partial funding for a Renewable School or Renewable Classroom project, simply complete and submit the appropriate application online.
- Representatives of interested schools should create a login.
- Once logged in please visit the Applications Page.
Solar 4R Schools accepts Renewable Classroom and Renewable School project applications from K-12 public or private schools throughout the U.S. on an ongoing basis. Applications are only accepted from our website; paper applications will not be considered. Funding is made to eligible schools as funding matches become available. Decisions are tied to the designated application review as indicated below. At the end of each review period, all applicants will be informed of the status of their application. In the case where matching funding is not yet available, strong applications may be profiled in our pool of “Projects Needing Funding” until funding is acquired.
- Q1: Applications received between 12/16 and 3/15. Notification on or before 6/30
- Q2: Applications received between 3/16 and 6/15. Notification on or before 9/29
- Q3: Applications received between 6/16 and 9/15. Notification on or before 12/28
- Q4: Applications received between 9/16 and 12/15. Notification on or before 3/31
BEF anticipates funding an unspecified number of Solar 4R Schools projects through this program. All applications will be reviewed and decisions made based on a predetermined scoring system and the availability of a matching funding partner. BEF reserves the right to not fund any projects if no submitted applications appear to meet the program’s goals and objectives. Project funding and support will be provided at the sole discretion of BEF.
Should your application be a good fit for our program and an available funding partner, you will be contacted by our team.