Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was on hand Thursday afternoon for the announcement of a unique partnership to between a health and wellness charter school in the Montbello neighborhood and a community solar company.
The partnership between Academy 360 and the Denver-based SunShare will provide participating families with 20-30 percent discounts on their energy bills for making a partial switch to solar power. That doesn’t mean they have to install solar panels on their roofs. Instead, they will tap into community solar energy produced by a “solar garden” that SunShare will build this late this fall near Green Valley Ranch Middle School.
While other customers, including a number of school districts and colleges, pay for Sunshare’s solar energy, the company will donate it to the families of Academy 360. Principal Sally Sorte said Academy 360 families will enjoy the energy discount as long as they are part of the school, which is intended eventually to cover the cradle to career continuum. About 79 percent of students at the K-3 school are eligible for free or discounted meals.
Karen Gados, community outreach coordinator for SunShare, said the company launched the projects because it wanted to contribute to low-income families and create a school-based partnership that can be duplicated in the future.
“We really like Academy 360’s mission because they really look at the whole child…They target healthy body, healthy mind, the sustainability component,” she said. “We hope to do this with other schools across the state.”