Students at YouthBuild Charter in Philadelphia are going green — and they’re taking other schools with them. Through the Philadelphia Solar Schools Initiative (PSSI), students are not only learning the basics of business and entrepreneurship in the green-energy industry, they’re simultaneously putting their new skills to use by helping to develop, design and install nearly 5,000 solar panels on 20 local schools starting in 2014. This multipronged program, which is the brainchild of renewable-energy companies Clean Currents and Solar States, will make green energy available to local schools at no upfront cost, in exchange for the schools’ business. The solar panels will provide about 30% of each school’s energy use, while the remaining 70% will be sourced through Clean Currents’ wind power.
The PSSI goes beyond a clean-energy deal. By providing the charter students, many of whom have dropped out of traditional high schools, vocational training in the area of sustainable energy, the program prepares them for “green collar” careers, while at the same time allowing them to help their communities.