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

Three students on a roof standing next to solar panels. One holds tool.
What is Solar Spring Break?

Solar Spring Break is an immersive service-learning experience where students spend a week with GRID Alternatives 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.



Returning in 2019: Particiapte as an individual on 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. Check back soon for official trip dates.

Important Dates:

Solar Spring Break registration opens August 24, 2018.

  • Deadline for Solar Spring Break winter trip registration -- October 10, 2018
  • Deadline for Solar Spring Break sponsored team application -- October 31, 2018*
  • Deadline for Solar Spring Break spring or summer trip registration -- November 16, 2018**
  • Deadline for Intercollegiate Student Leader application -- December 1, 2018
  • Deadline for Intercollegiate Student Team Member application -- January 18, 2019

*Find out more about becoming a sponsored Solar Spring Break team on the FAQs page.
**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 that combines service and education! 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 participants from 2017 and 2018, every single student who responded said they would recommend Solar Spring Break to a friend.


Students on a roof standing next to solar panels. One holds tool.
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. See the FAQs page for more information about financial assistance.

*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.


Three students bending conduit
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, your week of service-learning will be spent 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, broadening your understanding of the communities we serve. We will provide you with service-learning materials so that you can come prepared, reflect on new information as you learn, 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?

  • Fundraise -- Spread the word about Solar Spring Break in your local community to raise money toward your program fee!
  • Service-Learning Exploration -- Dedicate at least one group meeting for activities and discussions from GRID's Service-Learning Guide to orient yourselfs with GRID's mission and community.
  • Plan Trip Logistics -- Make sure everyone has a plan to arrive at your destination on time, and the team has transportation for the week.

In addition to fundraising support, GRID provides your team with our Service-Learning Guide so everyone can arrive feeling prepared, get more out of their Solar Spring Break experience, and reflect meaningfully. Before joining GRID for a week, each participating team should organize at least one meeting to explore the guide. The service-learning materials include meeting plans, activities and resources to help your team understand the issues that drive our mission and vision, like equity, environmental justice, and access to the solar industry. Take a look at the Service-Learning Guide today on our Resources page!

Curious why we use a service-learning model? Solar Spring Break is an opportunity that combines community service with learning, not only about the technical side of solar installation, but also about how GRID's work in solar fits into a larger picture of social change that includes you.