Girls Inc. Goes Solar in Sarasota County

The Giving Coast


The local sector of the youth-serving organization recently activated the largest private canopy of solar panels in Sarasota County. Their facilities now operate fully on renewable energy.  The switch will ultimately save Girls Inc. more than $20,000 in utility expenses each year. This mindfully thought after array includes 564 solar panels, and will produce on average 300,000 kilowatt hours of energy per year. With the concept of cultivating the next generation of environmental conservationists, the curriculum was designed specifically around sustainability and STEM concepts for installation. The young girls also elected their first energy council made up of members to guide the organization’s sustainable practices. 

“It’s our future, and we’re not waiting around for grownups to get it together,” says Sloan, an 11-year-old member of Girls Inc. and current president of the Sustainability and Energy Council. Similar sentiments line the Girls Inc. walls on environmental awareness posters, one reading “If you don’t clean up trash, the earth won’t feel good.” The organization inevitably began a new recycling program, planted a sustainable garden and plans to host its first “RecycleBall” dance party for the girls.  

As more nonprofits look to implement and foster solar panel technology, the Solar Powered by Barancik Foundation pilot will serve as a model to expand impact, guide best practices and provide learning opportunities to avoid missteps. Meanwhile, the Sarasota installation and curriculum were so notable, Girl Inc.’s national affiliate has shown interest in replicating the project at other locations across the country. “Right now, a bunch of girls hold the record for the largest solar project in the whole city,” says Sloan. “But in this case, we want others to break our record. Businesses can do better—bring it on!”

The project was conceptualized and funded by a $575,000 investment from Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation.

Photo courtesy of Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation

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