Solar Schools Toolkit: The Philadelphia Solar Energy Association
Semester: Spring 2023
Praxis Course: POLS 420 Praxis Fieldwork Seminar: Politics, Policy, and Power
Faculty Advisor: Marissa Golden
Field Site: The Philadelphia Solar Energy Association (PSEA)
Field Supervisor: Liz Robinson
The Philadelphia Solar Energy Association (PSEA) is a non-profit whose mission is to further solar energy education and implementation in the Philadelphia area. In the past, their work has included curriculum writing, solar-car races, educational events, and more. The PSEA is still a small, volunteer-based organization, however it has recently begun several new initiatives such as a contest for school kids and a toolkit to help schools implement photovoltaic systems.
My work at the PSEA mainly involved assisting with this new toolkit, known as the Solar Schools Toolkit. This digital document includes all the references and resources a school would need to implement solar power, including steps to follow, people to contact, sample RFPs, and more. My job was to assist with the creation of this document where possible. This included editing for accessibility and clarity, retrieving graphics and photos, and assisting with formatting. At times it was difficult to keep up, as my understanding of photovoltaic systems was not on par with the PSEA’s industry-veteran volunteers. However I found that I learned as I went, and PSEA staff was extremely friendly in making corrections.
I also assisted with the PSEA’s new “Imagine a Clean Energy Future” contest, where middle/high school students submitted written, visual, and video concepts of their interpretation of a clean energy future. My work began in the coordination stage, where I helped manage emails and contest submissions. I then assisted with the related exhibit opening, writing letters of congratulations and helping set up student works in the exhibit space. Finally I attended the opening itself, where I was proud to see the contest-winners receive their prizes.
I learned a great deal during my time with the PSEA. Aside from various writing and technicals skills (including editing, press release writing, and mail-merging) I learned to work remotely, on my on schedule. I also learned about solar grants and how funding is managed at state agencies such as the PADEP. Finally, I developed an understanding of the workings of volunteer-based nonprofits, particularly in the post-covid era.
I’d like to thank Liz Robinson and the PSEA staff for their warm welcome during my Praxis experience. I’m truly grateful for all the time they spent with me and the work we accomplished together. I’d also like to thank Marissa Golden and Tiffany Stahl for making this experience possible.