Solar Spring Break FAQs

How do I register a team for Solar Spring break?

Team registration for 2017 will open at the end of August. Contact solarspringbreak@gridalternatives.org for more information. 


What are group size limitations?

For safety and workflow reasons, the maximum number of participants is 12 people. Depending on which local office student groups are working with, the size limitation may be 10 or 12 people. 


Can I register for Solar Spring Break as an individual?

Unfortunately, we do not currently offer a solar spring break program that individuals can sign up for.  If you would like to participate in Solar Spring break, you must recruit a team of at least 8 other students to join you.  


What are the age restrictions?

Participants must be at least 18 years of age to perform construction work on the roof. 


Are there specific dates in winter and spring that GRID is hosting Solar Spring Break groups?

Our winter and spring solar spring breaks fall in December, January, March and April.  We understand that winter and spring breaks vary from school to school so we will work with you based on your particular winter or spring break and your desired volunteer location.


Is my team guaranteed placement at the regional office of our choice?

Not necessarily.  We will absolutely do our best to place your team at the specific location you have requested, but depending on your winter or spring break, we will work with our regional offices to determine their capacity for that week.  Please keep in mind we will not place you anywhere your team is not comfortable traveling to and we will work with you to make sure you are placed at a location that works well for your whole team as well as GRID Alternatives.


What costs are associated with a Solar Spring Break trip?

Deposit
A $500  non-refundable, non-transferable program fee is due when a student group registers for Solar Spring Break. This deposit is per team and not per individual.

Financial Contribution
Each student group is expected to raise $5000 for their project.  This contribution can be made by the group as a whole, or it can be evenly distributed amongst group participants (i.e. $500 each in a 10 person group).  This contribution helps cover some of the installation costs and staff time that goes into a GRID Alternatives installation. Depending on the system size, solar installations can cost 3-4 times as much as this, sometimes more!  It also includes housing for the entire team at a location TBD by the local regional office.   This does NOT include food or transportation. 

Transportation
Groups are responsible for all transportation arrangements and costs. Even if your group is flying to the site, rented vehicles will be needed to transport the group throughout the week.  Please note: The person renting the vehicle must be over 21.

Food
Groups are responsible for providing their own food.  


What does the $25,000 program cost for Nicaragua trips cover?

The Nicaragua trip is modeled slightly differently than the domestic trips. The $25,000 covers all meals, accommodations, transportation and other fees for the volunteers while they are in Nicaragua and helps support the project costs. Airfare is not included. To register for a trip, Nicaragua trips require a 25% non-refundable deposit and the remainder of the trip fee is due 45 days prior to the trip.


Is the program cost per team, or per individual?

The program cost is per team.


Since GRID Alternatives is covering housing, how will I know where I am staying?

GRID staff will work out the most convenient housing accommodations for your week of volunteering.  This may vary from site to site, but could include options such as – camping, hostels, community center spaces, etc.  GRID staff will make sure your group feels comfortable with any accommodations that are made. 


Can GRID staff help me with fundraising?

Yes, GRID's professional fundraising staff will help your team create a fundraising plan that will work for your team.  There are lots of creative ways to start fundraising and we will definitely help you on your way!  Please keep in mind, GRID Alternatives is a nonprofit so all donations are tax deductible.


Does GRID offer any discounts or scholarships for teams?

Unfortunately, we do not have capacity to offer any discounts or scholarships for Solar Spring Break teams. However, many universities offer funding for these kinds of student activities.


What does the week of programming include?

Your week of programming with GRID will include a volunteer orientation, at least a two day solar installation, and the other days are flexible in regards to programming.  If there is a particular program area that your group is interested in (i.e. solar design, nonprofit management, community outreach) please let us know and we will help organize a week of programming that is relevant and exciting for your group.


What experience is required?

No experience or tools necessary! Each team is led by an experienced volunteer Team Leader, and each installation is managed by GRID construction staff. Moderate lifting (20 lbs.) may be involved. As GRID Alternatives policy, all modules and inverters must be carried by at least 2 people at all times. If you are uncomfortable with heights or ladders, ground work is available.


What sort of safety precautions are taken on the jobs site?

Safety equipment must be worn at all times.  This includes hard hats while on the job site and harnesses while on the roof.  Hand and eye protection will also be provided. Each work day begins with a safety talk provided by our first-aid certified solar professionals. GRID Alternatives follows all OSHA guidelines on every work site.


Does GRID provide accidental medical insurance?

In the event of a medical emergency, participants are covered by a supplemental accident medical insurance provided by GRID Alternatives. This insurance covers a portion of medical costs in the event that the participant's existing insurance does not cover all expenses. Please see the one pager on the insurance policy for more information.


What is Solar Spring Break's cancellation policy?

Upon registration, students are asked to confirm your trip by paying the required deposit. Host affiliates make building and housing plans based on the number of participants that you confirm. This also commits students to pay the total $5,000 financial contribution to GRID.  In the event that the number of participants decreases or if the group cancels after confirmation, the group is still responsible for paying the full affiliate contribution. 

Please note: If your group has not confirmed your trip within three months of the project dates, the trip will automatically be cancelled, and those installations will be delegated to regular GRID Alternatives volunteers. If registration needs to be cancelled, please contact GRID headquarters staff to let them know plans have changed.