Note: This competition launched under a different name and has been incorporated as a category of the 2023 American-Made Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar.
The American-Made Inclusive Solar Outreach Awards are designed to identify and share best practices in communications campaigns reaching diverse and underrepresented audiences. Competitors may be organizations, businesses, and communications professionals. The Inclusive Solar Outreach Awards will help expand the equitable adoption of solar energy, especially in underrepresented communities, and increase the diversity of the solar workforce by sharing and encouraging the wider adoption of best practices.
On June 10, 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office launched the first round of the Inclusive Solar Outreach Awards. Participants submitted a description of a communications campaign and its results, along with campaign materials to illustrate the tactics used. DOE selected five winners to be featured in a new Best Practices Guide for Inclusive Solar Outreach. There is no monetary award.
Inclusive Solar Outreach Awards Round 1 Winners
- Astral Solar Power, Powered by Neighborhood Sun (Silver Spring, MD) collaborated with local partners including civic leaders, agricultural groups, and nonprofits to encourage community solar adoption among low- and moderate-income (LMI) households in rural New York. Their campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of solar energy drove a quantifiable increase in web traffic, email open rates, and social media reach.
- Energy Outreach Colorado (EOC) (Denver, CO) activated trusted neighborhood ambassadors to connect with energy-burdened households that had previously been assisted by EOC to help overcome their hesitance to consider solar adoption. Through word-of-mouth sharing and bilingual informational materials, EOC met its goal to subscribe more households in community solar programs.
- Lightsource bp (San Francisco, NJ) highlighted the solar industry’s potential to create meaningful career opportunities by highlighting the stories of 50 Texas veterans who participated in a solar apprenticeship program. By uplifting the veterans’ stories in high-quality photography and video, press outreach, social media, and a website, the campaign encouraged other contractors to create similar apprenticeship programs for veterans.
- Solar Landscape (Asbury Park, NJ) partnered with nonprofits, public schools, food banks, municipal governments, and other local organizations to spread a message about the benefits of New Jersey’s clean energy program. The team reached LMI households through a call center, webinars, community events, and a website.
- Solar United Neighbors (SUN) (Duluth, MN) leveraged their proven solar co-op model to increase access to solar energy among LMI households in Minnesota’s Duluth and Arrowhead areas. SUN partnered with a local land trust to identify an audience and ran a crowdfunding campaign to help eligible households go solar.
Participants will submit materials that demonstrate successful communications campaigns that set and achieve ambitious goals to increase solar energy adoption or solar workforce recruitment and retention. These goals and the campaign methods and mediums should be tailored to their chosen target audience. Goals can be qualitative or quantitative, but excellent campaigns will be able to show evidence that their campaign has had a positive impact on their target audience.
The award will run on an annual cycle, following this timeline:
- For the 2022 submission period, the intent is to recognize campaigns launched in 2021.
- For the 2023 submission period, the intent is to recognize campaigns launched in 2022.
- For the 2024 submission period, the intent is to recognize campaigns launched in 2023.
- The contest opened on March 24, 2022, and the application period closed June 10, 2022. DOE announced the winners on September 16, 2022.
- The Inclusive Solar Outreach Awards have been incorporated as a category in the American-Made Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar, which launched in April 2023.
Inclusive Outreach Community of Practice
If you are a communicator or organizer working on inclusive outreach campaigns, please join our community of practice where we will share ideas and learn from each other to advance a more equitable clean energy future.
- Read the new Best Practices Guide for Inclusive Solar Outreach.
- Register to compete in the Inclusive Solar Outreach Awards.
- Download the rules for the competition.
- For questions about the Inclusive Solar Outreach Awards, email email@example.com.
- Learn about other American-Made Challenges in SETO.