On August 1st, students from Yonsei University in Seoul visited the GRID NY Tri-State office in the South Bronx. Yonsei University is one of the three “Sky” universities, considered the most prestigious in South Korea. Studying in fields related to or aligning with environmental justice, these hopeful students visited the United States on a grant from LG allowing them to visit NYSERDA, NY-SUN, and DOE Sunshot Initiative. Prior to visiting the United States, they established an organization called ‘Solartist’ (a portmanteau between ‘Solar’ and ‘artist,’ which alludes to their idea of using quantum dot solar paint as “a next generation” solution.)
Peter Mandelstam, Executive Director of GRID Tri-State, and the rest of the staff engaged in a panel discussion with the students about the rapidly-rising solar industry and its future both in Korea and the United States. Each student expressed interest in working in the field. They asked each of us questions suited to our respective areas of expertise--Ben Cuozzo for project management; David Crawford for financial modelling; Daniel Hare for volunteer engagement; Tony Fludd for fundraising; Michael Moomjy for communications and brand awareness; and Peter for organizational management and high-level stakeholder engagement.
In addition, we all explored applying our philanthropic model to alleviating poverty in Korea, by making next-generation solar technology (especially solar-paint technology) more accessible to low-income households. Through the students, we were extremely fortunate to get a firsthand view into some of the economic and environmental challenges faced in South Korea. Challenges included, aging housing stock, inconsistent governmental support, and the tension associated with split incentives between landlords and their tenants. GRID made suggestions for them to approach wealthy Korean families and government stakeholders, as well as large companies and equipment manufacturers.
Towards the end of the visit, they commented that it was the most informative and actionable of all the meetings in which they participated during their visit to the US. We look forward to following up on their progress in carrying out their important work.