Our Mission and Story

Our mission is to revolutionize access to solar energy.

“SolarEquity strives to bridge the gap between affordable housing communities and the solar energy industry by facilitating access to electricity that is equitable and sustainable while fostering a culture of service and advocacy within our campus community.”

1. Equitable and Sustainable Energy

First, SolarEquity facilitates partnerships with solar companies and utilize a sustainable funding mechanism through grants and donors to acquire panels to then install on partner affordable housing projects in the area. In this way, solar energy can be made equitable, affordable, and sustainable.

2. Educating Our Community

Second, as a nonprofit organization run by students, we work to bring the importance of our mission to both our campus and local community. SolarEquity runs on student involvement and passion to bring solar energy to those who need it most.

The SolarEquity Story

Like every good story, SolarEquity’s begins in a high school classroom where Will Nichols took his first environmental science course at Durham Academy. The class allowed Will to gain exposure to many pressing ecological and societal issues, yet two stood out as finely interconnected: the climate and housing crises. Will became enthralled by the complexities of each problem and the importance of advocacy in both.

That year, Will was introduced to the local Chapel Hill Rotarian, Elizabeth (Liz) Henke, who proposed an internship opportunity to explore solving the issues bilaterally with solar energy. Will set out immediately on this mission by working closely with Habitat for Humanity and local rotary groups to explore how to make solar energy equitable.

Over the next few years, Will and Liz established significant community partnerships with Strata Solar Energy and Southern Energy Management. By graduation, Will, alongside Liz, had worked to acquire over 260 solar panels.

These panels went towards solarizing 13 new houses on Odie Street, a new Habitat for Humanity development in Orange County, NC. And much lay ahead for their efforts as Will embarked on a new journey after graduation.

Nichols continued his academic career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where the foundations of SolarEquity began to fall into place. Over his first year, Nichols forged new relationships with four other first-year students who shared his passion for the environment and social equity.

By the end of the year, Will established the founding executive team of Evelyn Dalton, Peyton Jenkins, Malin Muckenfuss, and Carter Wood. From there SolarEquity took flight. With continued guidance from Liz Henke, the group began to lay the organization’s groundwork, solidifying a campus presence as an official student organization. SolarEquity started to gain a foothold among students with weekly meetings and speaker series events promoting project involvement and learning opportunities.

As the organization grew, projects progressed gradually with time, but the group felt that SolarEquity had potential beyond functioning as just a student club. And with that, the team set out in the summer of 2022 to acquire nonprofit status to become a 501(c)(3), a rare adventure taken on by a couple of college students. From around the world, the team redefined itself under a business platform with a mission to bring solar energy to the affordable housing community while educating and involving the Chapel Hill community in our efforts.

And after months of setbacks with organizational structure and processing delays, SolarEquity was finally established as an official nonprofit organization. Now, the doors are wide open for the group to begin taking strides in progress and growth as an accomplished group of student leaders.

– The SolarEquity Team

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