Reach The Future Travels Off-Grid in Rural Nicaragua to Install Solar and LED Lighting in a School Without Electricity.

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Reach The Future partners with Bay Area green-minded organizations to install solar and LED lighting in the off-grid community of La Uva, Nicaragua. This installation yields an immediately positive impact and showcases a sustainable growth model that other communities in the developing world can adopt.

“It is up to us, the early adopters of sustainable behavior and technology, to lead the way and guide the rest of the world toward more sustainable growth models”

Reach The Future, A San Francisco Bay Area organization that operates community outreach programs for green businesses, partnered with local nonprofit, Power To The People to bring solar power and energy efficient LED lighting to a school in the off-grid community of La Uva, Nicaragua. Power to the People played a major role in this project as they work together with communities in the developing world to install solar electric (photovoltaic) systems on community buildings. They had identified La Uva as a prime candidate that could immediately benefit from having solar power and energy efficient lighting in their school.

This project is part of Reach The Future’s mission to promote and develop sustainable growth and consumption models locally and internationally.

“It is up to us, the early adopters of sustainable behavior and technology, to lead the way and guide the rest of the world toward more sustainable growth models” says Reach The Future Founder, Michael Gutman. “If every developing country chooses to leverage cheap, available fossil fuel to stimulate growth we are all in big trouble. This is our chance to showcase a different, more sustainable way to generate opportunity and prosperity for communities living off the grid.”

The community of La Uva is located in an ancient volcanic crater in the central part of Nicaragua and 15 miles away from any power line. La Uva has a population of 300 and the surrounding villages are home to more than 5,000 people living without electricity and access to basic services like health care, secondary education and phones lines. Communities sustain themselves with small farms and livestock and many of the men travel to Costa Rica to work in the plantations for months at a time to support their families.

La Uva has only one 2-room small school for all of its school children and one teacher that travels from the nearby town of San Lorenzo every week to teach the children. Like many off-grid towns in Nicaragua, the community members go to bed around 8pm when the sun goes down because there is no light to see by, no way to read, no way to study and no entertainment or news to watch or listen to. Because of the efforts of green-minded Bay Area organizations, to bring solar power and LED lighting to La Uva’s school, all this is about to change.

REACH Alliance member Elemental LED, a San Francisco Bay Area LED lighting company, donated the LED lighting for the project and funded Reach The Future’s expenses associated with traveling off-grid. Sun Edison, a San Francisco Bay Area based solar company, sponsored the project by donating $20,000 to Power To The People, which helps cover expenses associated with installing and maintaining the system.

“We live in a global community where our actions influence each other. I feel it is part of Elemental LED’s corporate responsibility to go above and beyond just the sale of energy efficient LED lights, but to help others who are less fortunate feel the positive impact of sustainable technology,” says Randy Holleschau, CEO at Elemental LED. “By donating LED’s and supporting Reach The Future on this project, we are making a huge positive impact in La Uva’s community”

“The SunEdison Eradication of Darkness (SEED) program is designed to deliver solar electrification to remote villages such as La Uva,” says Carlos Domenech, President of SunEdison. “Through this program, we are working with governments and organizations like Reach the Future and Power to the People to provide clean electricity to those who’ve never had it. We look forward to seeing the transformational benefits that the people of La Uva experience now and for generations to come.”

Installing the system took two days and a joined effort from Power To The People, Reach The Future, local Nicaraguan solar installer Suni Solar and members of La Uva’s community. The installation required wiring the school to power 12 LED lights, mounting and wiring 5 solar panels, installing a battery back up system that is charged by the solar panels during the day and powers the school at night and a battery charging station for community members to charge batteries.

Now that the school in La Uva has solar power and LED lighting, this off-grid community plans on taking advantage of new opportunities such as having literacy classes at night for those who work during the day, a battery charging station so community members can bring electricity into their homes and a centralized place to celebrate holidays as a community.

"Having lights and power in school is something many of us take for granted. It's easy to underestimate the importance of having outlets to listen to music, watch videos in class, or simply use lights to read at night or on a cloudy day. Battery-based solar systems are a great solution for bringing clean energy to rural areas that are far away from the electric grid." says Jenean Smith, founder of Power to the People.

Reach The Future made a short documentary about the project that can be viewed on http://www.ReachTheFuture.org or http://www.Facebook.com/ReachTheFuture.org

Reach The Future continues its mission to promote sustainability in the San Francisco Bay Area and the developing world by offering free educational workshops in the community and by offering donations and subsidies for products and services that promote energy conservation. Reach The Future’s positive impact is a direct result of the REACH Alliance’s commitment to community outreach and the promotion of sustainability. To learn more about how your business can benefit from joining the REACH Alliance, visit http://www.ReachTheFuture.org.    

About Reach The Future: Reach The Future is a community outreach program funded by Bay Area green minded businesses that want to help educate communities about the benefits of adopting sustainable behavior and technology. Reach The Future’s community outreach efforts include offering donations and subsidies on products supporting sustainability like solar and LED lighting. Reach The Future also offers free sustainability workshops for schools, homes, businesses, building managers, green job training programs and other communities who can benefit from learning about and adopting sustainability. Contact Reach The Future if your business is interested in promoting sustainability and engaging in community outreach or if your community could benefit from a free sustainability workshop that is custom designed for your audience. Visit us at http://www.ReachTheFuture.org

Contact
Mike Gutman
Mike.Gutman(at)ReachTheFuture(dot)org

About REACH Alliance member Elemental LED: Elemental LED is where style and sustainability come to light. We are dedicated to making quality LED lighting affordable and accessible to everyone; not only because LED lights are fun and exciting, but because LED lighting technology is the safest and most energy-efficient way to light up our world. On our website you will find a catalog of all of our products. Most popular include light fixtures, strip lights, light bars and puck lights, along with all compatible accessories, power supplies and low-voltage dimmers. Our lighting products also include variations in brightness and size and come in waterproof and even color-changing. We also offer videos and tutorials on how to assemble and install all of our unique lighting solutions. For more information, visit us at http://www.elementalled.com.

Contact
Jim Puchbauer
jim.puchbauer(at)elementalled(dot)com
877-564-5051

About Power To The People: Power to the People is a 501c3 non-profit organization working with volunteers to bring solar electricity to community buildings in rural areas of the developing world. Our mission is to create opportunities for people to improve the quality of their own lives through the installation of renewable energy technologies. By working together towards a common goal, volunteers learn about renewable energy technologies, community development, and gain a new perspective about life in another culture. For more information about future projects and volunteer opportunities, visit http://www.powertothepeople.org or email info(at)powertothepeople(dot)org.

About SunEdison: SunEdison is a global provider of solar-energy services. The company develops finances, installs and operates distributed power plants using proven photovoltaic technologies, delivering fully managed, and predictably priced solar energy services for its commercial, government and utility customers. In 2011 SunEdison interconnected approximately 300 Megawatts of solar throughout the world. For more information about SunEdison, please visit http://www.sunedison.com

Contact
Dawn Brister
dbrister(at)memc.com

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Michael Gutman
Mike.Gutman@ReachTheFuture.org
415-321-0591
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