Pivot Energy Donation to Colorado Nonprofit Could Lead to More Jobs in Rapidly Growing Solar Energy Industry
A Colorado nonprofit devoted to education and workforce assistance got a nice holiday gift in the form of a $90,000 donation that will be used to help nearly four dozen students pursue post-secondary training and education. The money came from Pivot Energy, a Denver-based community solar developer. The funds will go to Bright Futures, a Weld County nonprofit that provides tuition assistance to local high school grads, GED recipients, and military veterans.
One hope is that some of the students will work toward careers in the renewable energy industry, which has seen massive growth in recent years.
At least 45 students in Weld County will receive direct-grant funds thanks to the donation, which was made in November. The students will get up to $2,000 a year for four years from Bright Futures. They can pursue either certification programs or work towards a two or four-year degree. Students who choose a four-year program are eligible to receive up to $8,000 total, while those who choose a certification program will receive a portioned amount of funding.
Launched in 2015 by the Weld County Board of Commissioners, Bright Futures was created to provide financial assistance to students who pursue post-secondary education or training and certification programs from a Title IV accredited institution.
“Pivot Energy’s leadership and dedication to educating our future generation has proven to be invaluable to the workforce and to the futures of our students,” said Sarah Rice, executive director at Bright Futures. “Bright Futures is thrilled to partner with industry leaders such as Pivot Energy to give students a look into what their future could look like outside of high school. The generosity of Pivot to our program will impact students for years to come.”
Students who receive the money will be encouraged to continue their education and work lives in Weld County, Rice said. “It’s our mission to strengthen the vitality of the Weld County workforce, and we hope to promote the workforce of Weld County and work with Pivot Energy to let students know about the energy industry.”
Weld County is located in north-central Colorado along the Wyoming border. It’s home to about 315,000 residents. The county seat, Greeley, is probably best known for its meatpacking industry, though Greeley has also gained headlines as one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the country in terms of jobs and economic expansion.
Pivot Energy is a “triple bottom line company” that aims to have a positive impact on the planet, people, and profit. According to the company website, its primary focus is “accelerating the rapid transition of cleaner and more decentralized power generation by developing, financing, building, and managing community solar and commercial solar projects around the country.” The company offers a range of services and software to retail customers, project developers, system operators, utilities, and financiers through its distributed energy platform.
“Pivot’s commitment to strengthening the local communities that host our solar projects has been a priority for us since Day 1,” said Jon Fitzpatrick, Pivot Energy’s VP of project development. “Although the solar industry’s workforce is rapidly growing, it’s important for us to help create equitable opportunities for anyone interested in the clean energy industry. We are thrilled to collaborate with Bright Futures to grow the solar workforce in our home state and beyond.”
Pivot Energy and Bright Futures plan to coordinate educational site tours at local community solar projects developed by Pivot. The idea is to educate students about careers in renewable energy, including letting them get a first-hand look at how solar projects are developed and how they work.
This kind of training is important given the rapid acceleration of the solar power industry in Colorado and elsewhere – not to mention the rapid rise in education costs.
A Solar Power World report noted that over the last decade, higher education tuition costs in Colorado have risen by nearly two-thirds, while almost half of the state’s adults lack post-high school accreditations. Meanwhile, national solar employment increased five times faster than overall job growth nationally between 2014 and 2019.
Pivot Energy has been a leader in trying to solve the problem of education costs and industry demand. In addition to the Bright Futures donation, Pivot Energy also gave a $50,000 donation to the Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation for similar scholarships that will provide advanced training opportunities in the renewable energy industry for students in Southern Colorado.
Bright Futures also announced that it also received a matching $90,000 donation from Weld Trust to help students pursue an education in healthcare. The Weld Trust money matched funds donated by Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI).