Solar Spring Break Basics

"You don’t need to be a scientist to get involved. These issues affect us all, we all need clean air."
-- Kyndal Saverse, Junior, Environmental Science, University of Central Arkansas

What is Solar Spring Break?

Solar Spring Break is an immersive service-learning experience where students spend a week with a GRID Alternatives office installing solar for low-income families and exploring the intersection of renewable energy technology and community development. Each project hosts up to 12 participants travelling to one of GRID Alternatives' regional offices across the US or even internationally. Click here for a list of locations and dates.



New this year: the Solar Spring Break Intercollegiate Team!

Students from schools across the country are coming together to participate in a Solar Spring Break experience in Sacramento, California from May 21-25, 2018. Applications accepted on a rolling basis.

Important Dates:

Solar Spring Break registration opens August 24, 2017.

  • Deadline for Intercollegiate Student Leader application -- October 27, 2017
  • Deadline for Intercollegiate Student Team Member application -- Still accepting applications 
  • Deadline for Solar Spring Break winter trip registration -- October 20, 2017
  • Deadline for Solar Spring Break spring or summer trip registration -- November 17, 2017*

*The registration deadline for an International trip is at least nine months before the trip start date


Why should I participate?

Solar Spring Break will provide you with a unique and meaningful experience. You will work with solar professionals to provide low-income families access to solar power. These are families who wouldn't otherwise have access to, but stand to benefit the most from, renewable energy. Not only does this reduce the economic burden of high electricity bills for these families, but it also helps fight climate change. You will also gain firsthand experience in solar energy, an industry that is growing rapidly with numerous opportunities for college graduates.

What do students think? In a survey of Solar Spring Break 2017 participants, every single student who responded said they would recommend Solar Spring Break to a friend.


What does it cost, and how will we raise the money?

Participation in Solar Spring Break requires each team of up to 12 participants to fundraise $5,000*. Your fee covers the cost of your solar installation project(s), five days of service-learning programming, and five nights of lodging. Teams are responsible for their own food and transportation costs. GRID Alternatives staff provide teams with support in organizing these logistics.

Each team will receive fundraising consulting from GRID Alternatives’ headquarters team to determine the best and most effective way to raise your funds.  Fundraising activities might include peer-to-peer fundraising, personal solicitations, school sponsorships, or special events. Many colleges and universities also offer funds to support service-learning opportunities.

Concerned that your school does not have the resources to raise $5000? Let us know when you fill out the Interest Form and we can discuss in our follow-up communications.

*The International Solar Spring Break program requires each team to fundraise $25,000, which covers the cost of the installation process, international fees, lodging, food, local transportation, and trips during your stay. Students will be responsible for securing transportation to Nicaragua. For more information on the International Solar Spring Break program, contact us at solarspringbreak@gridalternatives.org.


What will the week involve?

GRID Alternatives will teach your team how to install a solar photovoltaic system through hands-on experience and trainings. Our licensed solar installers will take you through all aspects of the installation process, start to finish. You will be exposed to an insider’s perspective on elements of the solar industry that you won’t find in class.

In addition to installing solar, you will be spending your week working with a nonprofit that is dedicated to bringing the benefits of solar to underserved communities. You will connect with GRID's mission and vision and broaden your understanding of the communities we serve. We will provide you with service-learning materials so that you can come prepared, integrate new information as you go, and get the most out of your time with us.

Your Solar Spring Break will look different depending on the location you choose.  Although the week itself may vary, each team will participate in at least two days of solar installation, weather permitting. GRID’s construction staff are experienced instructors who provide you with the equipment and know-how you need to have a safe hands-on experience. If you're uncomfortable with heights or ladders, groundwork is available!

The rest of the week will be a combination of other service-learning activities, field trips, guest speakers, and opportunities to explore the place you are visiting. These activities can provide insight into nonprofit work, the local community, and renewable energy.

Sample week (will vary by location):

  • Monday-- volunteer orientation, meet the GRID regional office staff, guest speaker, warehouse tour/prep for installation days
  • Tuesday -- work with our outreach team to canvas underserved neighborhoods and make them aware of GRID Alternatives' solar program, take a field trip to a major renewable energy partner
  • Wednesday -- Day 1 of solar installation
  • Thursday -- Day 2 of solar installation
  • Friday -- visit nonprofit partner, potluck lunch with GRID regional office staff, SolarCorps “meet and greet”

How should teams prepare for Solar Spring Break?

In addition to fundraising support, GRID provides your team with our Service-Learning Guide materials so your team can arrive feeling prepared, get more out of their Solar Spring Break experience, and debrief meaningfully. The guide includes meeting plans and activities and materials around GRID’s issue areas like equity, environmental justice, and access to the solar industry. To have a richer experience, each participating team should organize at least one meeting to explore these materials before they come out for the week.