What is Coal2Sol?

Coal2Sol was started by our local solar energy guy, Aur “Da Energy Mon” Beck, and now he’s partnering with The Climate Economy. Aur and Amy are aiming to raise at least $3,000 in this crowdfunding campaign at this link:

Join us for campaign progress and Q & A with Aur & Amy (will be livestreamed on The Climate Economy’s FB page):

#1 Wed 9/23 6pm | #2 Fri 9/25 3pm | #3 Mon 9/28 6pm

More sessions TBD, each one will last 20 minutes or so.

Also don’t miss: Sol-Aur Tour – Q&A with Aur Beck – This year’s Heartland Solar Tour, on Facebook Live, 10/3 at 3pm.

If we can crowdfund over $3,000, we become eligible for additional awards and grants from A Community Thrives, up to $100,000. The goal now is to raise the funds to prove the concept and establish a permanent program. The basics of the grant proposal are included below, including the proposed budget and everything that’s included in scholarships.
We are taking names and signups for scholarships! Please contact Amy McMorrow Hunter at 618 713 2896 for more information.
Read more details after the press release.

September 23, 2020
Contacts: Aur Beck, 618 893 1717, tech@aessolar.com; Amy McMorrow Hunter, The Climate Economy Education Inc, 618 713 2896, amy@theclimateeconomy.com

Local fundraiser looks to stir up community support for free solar installations at local nonprofits

Meeting crowdfunding goal of $3,000 by Oct.16 make new program eligible for more than $100,000 in additional grants

Aur “Da Energy Mon” Beck of AES Solar (AES) wants to see a solar system on every nonprofit facility in the 38 counties in the southern district of Illinois. To meet this goal, Aur is partnering with The Climate Economy Education Inc (TCE), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Together they want to help expand solar energy in southern Illinois with Coal2Sol, a unique program for getting solar installed at nonprofits at no cost to them, and educating an entire corps of local solar installers. The Coal2Sol fundraiser runs now until October 16. The goal is to raise $3,000 from community donations in a crowdfunding campaign so that Coal2Sol will have some startup funds, and also will be eligible for additional grants of up to $100,000. 

Coal2Sol supporters can donate to the community crowdfunding campaign at https://acommunitythrives.mightycause.com/story/Coal2sol. Every dollar donated counts as a point, and supporters can also take other actions, such as completing the new “Solar Ambassador” online course and sharing social media posts, to earn additional points for their favorite nonprofit. Nonprofit organizations with the most points at the end of the fundraiser will be added at the top of the list for consideration as beneficiaries of the first solar systems. 

Founded in 2009 by Aur Beck, Coal2Sol 1) trains people to install solar from areas that have been hit hardest with the coal industry closing, 2) finds local investors to provide the up-front cost of the solar system while getting them a tax deduction, and 3) installs solar systems on nonprofits at no cost to them. Aur’s partnership with The Climate Economy will set up a permanent home for Coal2Sol, develop an educational program and additional tools to install as many solar systems as possible as soon as possible. 

The current fundraiser is part of USA Today’s “A Community Thrives” campaign, a nationwide grantmaking and crowdfunding initiative. 

Aur said, “Solar is the way of the now, not just the future, and we are leading the way with helping people.” At least 2 solar systems, valued at $20,000 each (including labor) and donated by AES Solar, will be installed on an eligible nonprofit. If the team meets the $3,000 crowdfunding goal and wins additional grant funds, the full project’s first year would:

  • Install a new solar system on up to four southern Illinois nonprofit organizations at no costs to the nonprofits,
  • Provide scholarships for up to 100 people from underserved populations, including low-income, homeless, or recently cut loose from the fossil fuel industry, that will cover the classes, training and tools that people need to start a new job at a solar company,
  • Provide a new, secure and good ROI investment opportunity for local investors to support local growth, and
  • Set up new educational programs to educate nonprofits, investors and job-seekers about solar and the many opportunities it offers.

Supporters can join upcoming Zoom meetings for history of Coal2Sol, campaign progress and Q & A with Aur & Amy (will be livestreamed on The Climate Economy’s Facebook page). The Zoom links are available at the link above or on social media. The first Q & A is Wednesday, September 23 at 6:00 p.m., the second is Friday, September 25 at 3:00 p.m., and the third is Monday, September 28 at 6:00 p.m. More Q & A dates and times are still to be determined, and each one will last 20-30 minutes. Also coming up is the “Sol-Aur Tour – Q&A with Aur Beck,” this year’s virtual Heartland Solar Tour, on Facebook Live, October 3 at 3:00 p.m.

Amy McMorrow Hunter, President/CEO of TCE, said “It’s a win-win-win for all parties. Nonprofits get clean energy and cost savings, investors get solid investments and tax breaks and workers get education and training for jobs in a growing industry. Overall we’re helping build southern Illinois community resilience. We are happy to be working with Aur on this and hope to help spread this model far and wide.”

About AES Solar (www.aessolar.com

AES Solar’s mission is to power a sustainable economy by bringing renewable energy to America’s neighborhoods. That means lowering your energy bills and making sure you get the best incentives possible. With deep knowledge of the latest technology, tax credits, and innovations in the industry, we are able to provide your business and family with the best possible experience from start to finish, and for years to come. We empower you to get energized with renewable energy!

About The Climate Economy Education Inc (www.theclimateeconomy.com

The Climate Economy Education Inc is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization for education on business models and lifestyles that are good for the climate, economy and humanity. We aim to accelerate the transformation to a clean economy by helping every individual find their niche and participate in community and global climate ventures.



Coal2Sol: Solar Installations for Nonprofits Funded by Local Investors and Built in Participation with Target Training Groups

Project Summary

Coal2Sol brings together nonprofits, community investors and workers towards a common goal: creating more resilient communities from within. Founded in 2009 Coal2Sol trains people to install solar from areas that have been hit hardest with the coal industry closing. It’s a win-win-win for all parties: nonprofits get new solar systems, investors get tax breaks and workers get training. This model can be spread across coal country and beyond. #GetEmpowered #Coal2Sol

Project Description

This project will raise funds to empower each of the groups involved in the project: Nonprofits, Investors, and Students.

  1. Nonprofits: Online and accessible educational packages, as well as an eligibility database will be developed to help nonprofits undertake installing a new solar energy system;
  2. Investors: Online and accessible education packages will be developed for local investors to help them understand the opportunities of tax credits for solar investments and match them with nonprofits;
  3. Students: Up to 100 scholarships for students from underserved populations will be awarded covering everything the student will need to start a job at a solar company, including classes, training, books, OSHA hours, funds for the NABCEP test, food, transportation and tools. 

This project will serve as proof of concept for other communities to adopt. Fast facts:

  • Program Scope: Up to 4 local nonprofits get solar systems installed for no cost to their organizations, community investors are exposed to a new investment opportunity with good payback, and up to 100 students from underserved groups receive scholarships for education and job training.
  • Communities Served: This project covers the the 38 counties in the Southern District of Illinois.
  • Funding: Local businesses, investors, and major donors; nonprofit organizations across the 38-county territory will be enlisted and provided with solicitation materials; local community events on the calendar in the St. Louis Metro East – Murphysboro – Carbondale – Marion – Harrisburg locations in October and November will help publicize the effort. AES Solar is donating two solar systems as well as in-kind training and support. 
  • Key Partners: The Climate Economy Education Inc (501(c)(3) nonprofit), AES Solar in Carterville, John A Logan College.
  • Promising Practices: coordinate community nonprofit solar installations from conception to turning on the systems; cover investment of up-front costs; create and nurture solar ambassadors

Project Need: Community need addressed with the project

Communities need more clean solar energy, the funds to pay for them and the workers to install them. This fulfills all those needs.

Total Project Cost


Amount Requested


Have you secured other funding for the project?

Yes – AES Solar is donating two solar systems in-kind at a value of $40,000.

How will this project contribute to community building?

Coal to Sol brings together nonprofits, community investors and workers towards a common goal: creating more resilient communities from within. Nonprofits provide valuable resources and services in many communities, and now they face more challenges than ever to their existence. This project literally builds new solar systems for the nonprofits, with funding from local benefactors for the up-front costs. As the projects are built, workers are trained. 

More generally, participants will:

  • Learn more about each other and the unique challenges we all face,
  • Learn about what’s going on in their communities,
  • Work together on teams towards a common goal.

Coal to Sol will incubate a new generation (of all ages) of “solar ambassadors” that will be able to share their experiences and help get more and more people involved. More than ever, our communities need clean energy, investment, cooperation, good-paying jobs and opportunities, and Coal2Sol will also give communities a sense of shared purpose.

How does your project /organization serve historically underserved or marginalized persons or groups?

Most of the counties in the 38-county region are rural, with chronic high poverty and unemployment. Many towns in the region have been affected by past, recent or imminent closures of coal plants, leaving behind devastated workers, environments and local economies, with more plant closures expected. Our project will provide people and organizations in the region with a shared sense of purpose as well as a new business model for community rejuvenation. 

Project Outcomes (please be specific for example: what will be accomplished, who is served, how many are served, what is the demographic of those served, how will this project impact the community?) 

Up to 4 (and at least 2) local nonprofits will get new solar systems installed on their facilities. 

A process to expedite quick and beneficial solar installation at local nonprofit organizations will be established, while workers needed are trained. The process will bring together local nonprofits, local community investors, as well as underserved workers. 

Up to 100 people from underserved populations may receive scholarships for this program. Target groups for scholarships include high-school and college-age youth, individuals from low-income communities, community shelters and transition programs, women, and individuals affected by the downturn in the coal industry. 

People from towns from across the 38-county region will be made aware of the project and how they may participate. People who benefit from more efficient nonprofits are served, as well as investors looking for tax credits. The model can serve as an example for other locations of any shape and size.

What are sustainability plans past the funding year?

Once Coal2Sol has been established, has proven its efficacy and payback, and resulted in the creation of solar ambassadors across the region, the goal will be to maintain and expand the program through continued donations for scholarships, also coming from city and state government, as well as an expanded investment system for solar systems. 

What is the tentative project start date?

Spring 2021 academic semester, possibly Fall 2020 semester if funds are raised in time

What is the tentative project completion date?

The project could be completed by the end of the Spring 2021 semester, or possibly may run through the Fall 2020 semester if funds are remaining.

Project Budget; If your project is not fully funded at $100k, what are the outcomes for funding at $50k and $25k?

What do the scholarships cover?

Scholarships cover everything students need to get the credentials to start an entry-level job at a solar company:

Questions? Call Amy McMorrow Hunter at 618 713 2896 or go to this link, donate and share:


Thank you!