LDF teams up with college students to solarize community nonprofits


Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation supports community nonprofit solar projects with RE-volv

Solar crowdfunding campaigns in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and South Carolina led by college students receive Matching Funds from LDF

SAN FRANCISCO – College students in South Carolina and Pennsylvania are launching solar crowdfunding campaigns today with the support of the Solar Ambassador program, a training course created by RE-volv, a San Francisco-based nonprofit. The campaigns will bring the benefits of solar energy to two local nonprofits that support underserved populations in the community. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, as part of its 2017 grant to RE-volv, will provide matching funds for a limited time, allowing donors the opportunity to double their contributions.

“Climate Change affects every community, regardless of income or demographics, yet we do not see an equitable distribution of solutions,” said Gregory Lopez, Climate Program Director of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. “We are pleased to continue supporting RE-volv in bringing affordable solar power to diverse communities across the country.”

The two new projects include the Village of Arts and Humanity in North Philadelphia, Pa. and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10804 in Little River, S.C. LDF will also apply matching dollars for the remaining funds needed for two campaigns that started last week: Mission of Mary Cooperative in Dayton, Ohio and Project Home in Madison, Wis.

The four nonprofits that will benefit from the solar campaigns all play critical roles in their community. The VFW Post 10804 in South Carolina provides needed support for Veterans. The Village of Arts and Humanities in North Philadelphia provides skills training and rehabilitation programs for formerly incarcerated individuals. The Mission of Mary Cooperative in Dayton is fighting food deserts by teaching community members how to grow their own food. Project Home in Madison provides low income families with affordable home improvements and energy efficiency retrofits.

“RE-volv’s financial model is a fantastic way to empower community members to support clean energy while also helping a nonprofit increase their ability to support its community. It’s a win-win,” said Adam Tholen, the project lead for Project Home and a student at UW-Madison.

RE-volv’s Solar Ambassador program trains college students from campuses all across America. The program is a year-long fellowship that provides valuable career skills to college students by training them to bring solar to nonprofits in their communities. Students from over a dozen schools have participated in the program.

“RE-volv’s Solar Ambassador program empowers college students to bring clean energy to their communities, and by doing so, we’re training tomorrow’s clean energy leaders” said Andreas Karelas, RE-volv’s founder and Executive Director. “America’s young leaders are looking for opportunities to take action on climate change while getting practical career experience in clean energy. We’ve created a unique program that allows students to channel their creativity and passion into real climate solutions, while teaching them important job skills.

An estimated 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. face financial barriers to obtaining solar power, as they do not qualify for solar tax credits or are too small to attract traditional investors. These nonprofits miss out on the financial benefits of solar which they could use to further support the communities they serve. RE-volv’s model helps bridge this funding gap for organizations that provide valuable public services to vulnerable communities, including homeless shelters, schools, community centers, and houses of worship.

RE-volv is working with nonprofits where policy barriers make it difficult for solar companies to provide attractive financial options to new customers. By partnering with nonprofits in swing states, RE-volv is tapping into the local communities to educate about the benefits of solar.

To date, RE-volv has has crowdfunded 11 solar projects (150+ kW of capacity) in four states and has signed 17 solar leases in six states. Thanks to the solar installations, these 11 nonprofits are expected to save between 15 and 50 percent on their electric bills. In total, they will save more than $1.5 million over the life of their solar energy systems. RE-volv’s solar revolving fund, the Solar Seed Fund, is now worth over $700,000 in future lease payments from these 11 projects, payments which will be used to finance at least 20 more solar energy projects.

About RE-volv

RE-volv empowers people to take direct action on climate change by crowdfunding solar energy projects for nonprofit organizations. Donations made to RE-volv’s crowdfunding campaigns grow a revolving fund that provides solar financing for nonprofits across the nation. RE-volv also raises awareness about solar energy through its flagship Solar Ambassador Program, which trains college students to solarize nonprofits they care about. RE-volv is an inaugural member of the White House National Community Solar Partnership and is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. Learn more at RE-volv.org.

About the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation

Founded in 1998, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (“LDF”) works to protect the Earth’s last wild places by implementing solutions that restore balance to threatened ecosystems, and ensuring the long-term health and wellbeing of all its inhabitants. Learn more at leonardodicaprio.org

About VFW Post 1080

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) serves to secure the rights and benefits of those who fought for our country. The organization has more than 2 million members, who contribute 8.6 million hours of community service annually. The Veteran of Foreign War Outpost in 10804, located in Little River, South Carolina is an organization of veterans who were in a combat setting in a foreign country. They offer job training, financial support, and comradery.

About The Village of Arts and Humanities

The Village of Arts and Humanities supports the voices and aspirations of the North Philadelphia community by providing opportunities for self-expression rooted in art and culture. The organization inspires individuals to be agents of positive change through programs that engage youth, encompass arts and culture, revitalize community, preserve heritage, and encourage environmental stewardship.

About Project Home

For 46 years, Project Home’s mission has been to improve the quality and affordability of housing for low-to-moderate income residents in Dane and Green County, WI. We perform home repairs, accessibility modifications & energy improvements to make homes healthier, safer and to ease the financial burden of high energy bills for people who are struggling financially. The work of our staff, sponsors, donors and volunteers is an investment in homes, neighborhoods, communities and people.

About Mission of Mary

Mission of Mary Cooperative is a non-profit organization that works in east Dayton founded by a small faith community of lay Marianists who lived in the Twin Towers neighborhood. Mission of Mary focuses on the issues of food and economic social justice especially the issues of healthy food affordability and access. The work done at Mission of Mary aims to provide tangible benefits for the people of the Dayton community as well as the vacant and forgotten land of the neighborhood. Numerous programs at Mission of Mary occur throughout the year to grow and distribute nutritious food as well as educate neighbors about healthy and sustainable lifestyles.

High-Growth Fintech Company Matic Chooses to Expand in the Columbus Region

Columbus, Ohio – Matic, a digital insurance agency whose technology enables borrowers to purchase homeowner’s insurance during the mortgage transaction, has announced plans to expand its operations in Columbus, investing a total of $400,000 and creating 50 new jobs at its Miranova Place facility. Hiring for operational and back-office positions began earlier this month and will continue into Q2 2018 and beyond.

Matic has grown rapidly since its founding in 2014 to become the market leader in lender and servicer distribution of homeowner’s insurance. A licensed insurance agent in all 50 states, Matic has delivered more than 300,000 quotes to the customers of some of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders and servicers.

“This is an exciting time for Matic, and the Columbus Region has the right blend of skilled talent, entrepreneurial climate and vibrant economy to support our rapid expansion,” said Aaron Schiff, co-founder and CEO, Matic. “With more than a dozen enterprise agreements set to launch this year, we are confident Columbus will continue to offer the resources needed to support our growth.”

In November 2017, the company completed a $7 million Series A funding round. Investors included Columbus-based Nationwide, one of the world’s largest insurance and financial services companies.

“We are thrilled to see innovative and disruptive companies like Matic finding success in Columbus,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “The Region’s strong academic institutions and growing tech workforce make it a breeding ground for innovation, particularly for thriving companies like Matic.”

“Matic’s expansion is an example of how the Columbus Region’s abundance of major insurance providers is helping early-stage fintechs experience rapid growth,” said Valentina Isakina, JobsOhio managing director for financial services. “The collaborative efforts of Matic, Columbus 2020 and the city will bring 50 new jobs to downtown Columbus and bolster Ohio’s robust fintech environment.”

Financial and insurance-related activities comprise the top sector of economic output in the Columbus Region, totaling $28 billion in 2015. Matic joins other Columbus fintech and insurtech leaders ranging from Huntington and JPMorgan Chase to Alliance Data and State Farm.

About Matic

Matic is a technology-driven insurance agency focused on helping lenders and loan officers better integrate homeowner’s insurance into the lending process. By using loan application information and first-of-its-kind technology, Matic provides homebuyers multiple policy options within seconds, helping loan officers close their loans faster. Matic delivers the most trusted, affordable insurance policies available thanks to its partnerships with a diverse network of insurance carriers. Today’s borrowers expect a digital home-buying experience, and Matic gives them the digital insurance experience to match. For more information, visit http://matic.com or follow Matic on LinkedIn.

About Columbus 2020

As the economic development organization for the Columbus Region, Columbus 2020’s mission is to generate opportunity and build capacity for economic growth across 11 Central Ohio counties. In 2010, hundreds of business and community leaders developed the Columbus 2020 Regional Growth Strategy, and the Columbus Region is now experiencing the strongest decade of growth in its history. The Columbus 2020 team conducts business outreach, promotes the Columbus Region to market-leading companies around the world, conducts customized research to better understand the Columbus Region’s competitiveness, and works to leverage public, private and institutional partnerships. Funding is received from more than 300 private organizations, local governments, academic institutions and JobsOhio. Learn more at ColumbusRegion.com.

About City of Columbus, Ohio

The City of Columbus is the 14th largest city in the United States with a population of approximately 860,090 residents. The Columbus economy is balanced with a combination of education, technology, government, research, insurance and health care entities as major employers within the region. Columbus is gaining nationwide recognition for its historic neighborhoods, booming downtown arts and sporting districts, open attitude and a noticeably affordable quality of life. Learn more about the City of Columbus at columbus.gov/development/Economic-Development/.

What Friday’s U.S. Jobs Report Means:

Interest Rates, GDP, and Labor Force Participation

Commentary on Friday’s Employment Numbers

California Credit Union League (April 4th, 2018) — Two economists from California made the following comments regarding this coming Friday’s U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ non-farm payrolls employment report for March:

Robert Eyler, Board Member of Redwood Credit Union and Economist at Sonoma State University

“Friday’s jobs report may be part of a larger trend as we begin looking back at the first quarter of this year. We will soon see whether or not the recent congressional tax bill has led to immediate business investment and higher wage offerings, and if these jolts did enough to attract entrants into the labor market who were sitting on the sidelines. If this is the case, then more jobs are getting filled by employers that have a larger labor force to draw from. However, whatever jobs number is announced, the second-half of this year could turn out different. Many economists’ employment forecasts going forward are less sanguine, especially with trade-war sabers rattling between other countries and the United States.”

“The more the jobs report meets the economic forecast expectations by the Federal Reserve, the more the Fed will like it because it will be ‘on forecast,’ which means the Fed’s interest rate movement predictions for three movements higher (total) this year will hold steady. If jobs are above forecast, it could signal more speedy wage and price growth, giving the Fed cause to add an additional rate increase this year versus its original plan. But if jobs are below forecast, equity markets won’t like that, and it could keep the Fed basically on pace. My guess is that job growth in the first quarter of this year will meet or beat targets, but it will do so in such a way that the Fed will stick to its original plan and equity markets will be little affected.”

“In general, employment numbers can be ‘noisy’ due to seasonality and structural shifts, so unfortunately the key to the monthly jobs announcement becomes whether it meets or beats expectations. Even when seasonal factors are taken out, the American economy generally hibernates a bit in the winter. But the recent congressional tax bill may help boost first-quarter 2018 economic growth (Gross Domestic Product—GDP). The current consensus forecast for the first quarter is between 2.4 and 2.7 percent economic growth, and maybe even as high as 2.9 percent growth for the past four quarters combined (annualized). This potential first-quarter result, if realized, would not only be on pace with recent quarters, it would be higher than many previous first-quarter results from prior years.”

“For job hoppers and job seekers—and those entering the labor force for the first time or coming back after an extended period—the jobs are out there. The key is to continually stay certified, don’t stop completing new training courses, and engage in skills development. Don’t just drift back into the labor force without updating your skills, no matter how small it may be. This is an economy where it’s a great time to jump into the workforce if you have the right skills in place.”

Dwight Johnston, Chief Economist for the California Credit Union League

“The bond market is almost solely focused on the hourly-wage growth component of Friday’s jobs report. But until there is more clarity on where the domestic trade scuffle is headed, the impact of Friday’s employment report will not be lasting. What’s interesting is, interest rates are actually lower than before the last big gain in non-farm payroll jobs of 316,000 in February and the Federal Reserve’s tightening.”

“If an impending trade war or a real trade war between the United States and China is still afoot and the U.S. stock market is still tumbling by June, it doesn’t really matter how much wage growth or job growth we have. A trade war’s impact has consequences—to what degree if one happens, only time will tell. Some analysts believe Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will act differently from his predecessors and raise interest rates if the employment numbers dictate, regardless of the stock market’s movements. Just from experience, I’ll believe it when I see it.”

California Credit Union League

The California Credit Union League is based in Ontario, CA and is the state trade association for 312 credit unions headquartered in California (as of fourth-quarter 2017). The League represents the interests of 11.5 million credit union members across the state who are member-owners of their credit unions. Credit unions help consumers afford life and prosper!

Local Fire Department Has Chance to Win $5,000

Columbia Gas of Ohio Launches Firefighter Video Contest to Promote Natural Gas Safety

COLUMBUS – Columbia Gas of Ohio is launching the Smell and Tell Firefighter Video Contest, challenging fire departments throughout the Columbia Gas service* territory to create videos demonstrating natural gas safety. From March 22 – April 13, fire departments can submit videos educating the public on how to “smell and tell” – how to identify the presence of natural gas and properly report it – for a chance to win $5,000.

Columbia Gas is launching the contest to raise awareness on how to identify the presence of natural gas. Though natural gas is colorless and odorless, a rotten-egg odor, mercaptan, is added to make detection easier. Natural gas is safe when used properly, but it is still critical Ohioans are able to identify natural gas and then take immediate action to keep themselves, their families and their neighbors safe.

“We’re launching the contest to educate the public on how to identify natural gas and remind them what to do should they ever need to act in an emergency,” said Columbia Gas Communications Manager Bill Loomer. “Our communities couldn’t stay safe without the critical work of local fire departments, so we’re looking forward to rewarding the contest winner with $5,000 to support their continued safety efforts.”

Fire departments interested in participating should submit one-minute videos conveying the Smell and Tell safety message via the Columbia Gas Facebook page** between now and April 13, 2018. Videos meeting the entry criteria will be shared on the Columbia Gas Facebook page April 16 – April 30 for public voting. The fire department with the video that receives the most votes at the end of the voting period will win $5,000 from Columbia Gas to support their continued efforts to keep local communities safe. No purchase necessary.

The contest is part of the company’s continued efforts to keep customers and the community safe. Columbia Gas also operates a training center in central Ohio where it offers first responders hands-on learning opportunities related to the proper handling of natural gas emergencies.

For residents and anyone interest in learning more about natural gas safety, more information can be found at columbiagasohio.com/groundrules.

*The Columbia Gas of Ohio Service Territory is defined by ZIP code. A link to the Official Contest Rules, including a complete listing of ZIP codes within the service territory, can be found on the Columbia Gas of Ohio Facebook page.

**No purchase necessary. See Official Contest Rules. Subject to Woobox, Facebook and YouTube Terms & Conditions. Facebook and YouTube do not endorse, sponsor or administer the Contest.

Columbia Gas of Ohio delivers clean, affordable and efficient natural gas to approximately 1.4 million customers across the state. With headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, it is the largest natural gas utility in Ohio and one of NiSource’s seven regulated utility companies. NiSource (NYSE: NI) is one of the largest fully-regulated utility companies in the United States, serving approximately 3.5 million natural gas customers and 500,000 electric customers across seven states through its local Columbia Gas and NIPSCO brands. More information about Columbia Gas of Ohio and NiSource is available at www.ColumbiaGasOhio.com and www.nisource.com. For information about natural gas safety and what to do if you suspect a gas leak, go to: www.safegasohio.org.