The Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund catalyzes the growth of solar energy and expand solar job opportunities in tribal communities across the United States.
Since 2010, the GRID Alternatives Tribal Program has worked to help tribal communities across the United States achieve their renewable energy goals, while training tribal members to enter the solar workforce. In 2018, GRID announced the launch of the Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund to provide capital to accelerate the development of new solar projects in tribal communities across the country.
The Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund is a tribal-led philanthropic program that provides new funding to tribes to support their renewable energy projects. The fund awards grants for projects that clearly focus on building renewable energy infrastructure, particularly new solar energy projects in tribal communities, that are feasible, cost-effective, and engage broad tribal community participation.
The TSAF currently offers three primary funding resources for tribal communities: grants, fellowships, and scholarships.
Grants for Tribal Renewable Energy Projects: Goal to increase access to funding or Tribal communities to achieve their renewable energy goals.
- Small-scale community facility renewable energy projects are stepping stones toward building capacity and achieving tribal energy sovereignty and resiliency goals. These projects tend to have fewer disruptive impacts to cultural sites, serve the community, and require less land for permitting and leasing. TSAF provides grants to federally-recognized tribes and tribal serving organizations for federal grant matching funds (especially from the Department of Energy, Office of Indian Energy), tribal facility project funding, and tribal residential project funding. For many tribes, TSAF funding has supported pilot projects which have grown into larger solar projects year after year.
- Many tribal communities look to tribes within their regions for examples of replication and guidance, and the TSAF is becoming a clearinghouse of successful facility, residential, entrepreneurial and educational renewable energy projects and programs examples.
- Workforce development and training opportunities are a valued component of each TSAF grant, furthering community buy-in and knowledge about renewable energy while supporting tribal members in preparing for job opportunities in solar.
Fellowships for Tribal Energy Innovators: Goal to support tribal executives and entrepreneurs in enhancing their renewable energy projects and plans.
- The Tribal Energy Innovators Fellowship is for federally-recognized tribal members who are developing a renewable energy idea or vision for their communities. The fellowship includes industry mentorship opportunities, training, and invitations to participate in GRID solar installations. With a one-year $25,000 (increased amount in 2022-2023) stipend, fellows gain a financial cushion or “seed funding” that allows them to focus their time and resources on their visions for change in their communities and within themselves as changemakers and leaders in the industry.
Scholarships for Tribal College and University Students: Goal to support tribal students in renewable energy and related fields in learning, teaching, and research.
- The Tribal College/University (TCU) Scholarship program in partnership with the American Indian College Fund is for students enrolled at TCUs in an environmental degree program relevant to the scholar’s academic and career pathway in renewable energy. $5,000 scholarships are awarded for one academic year through an application process coordinated across regionally diverse TCUs.