We are excited to announce our Spring 2021 Gift of Light Grantees! These organizations were selected from a robust group of applicants and have been selected to receive free Luke Lights and/or Chandler Chargers, as well as partner with Unite to Light through numerous other programs to enhance and amplify our efforts to light the world. Read on for information on each of the seven organizations selected and how they will be using the Lights/Chargers. If you’re interested in applying for our Fall Gift of Light cycle, please apply here before August 31, 2021.
This project focuses on providing solar lights to schools around Liwonde National Park and schools in Nkhata Bay District, both in Malawi. The schools have no electricity and the majority of the students come from homes, which do not have a connection to the power grid.
The Foundation for Women (FFW), a leading microfinance institution in Liberia, has been operating for more than 15 years as a trusted and grassroots lending partner to families, small businesses, micro-entrepreneurs, and schools. Modeled on the success and impact of the Grameen Bank, FFW has impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of Liberians, helping them to gain a foothold in the economy and to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
FFW will be using the Chandler Chargers to support their microfinance clients. The majority of FFW clients are poor women who face enormous challenges as they try to gain an economic foothold in the economy. A small vending business or fruit stand could be the difference between a family surviving or collapsing. It would be life changing for FFW’s microlending clients to have access to solar-powered light and solar charging capacity for cell phones. These resources empower women and families to live more safely and more productively.
This project is located in the Ileret area on the eastern shore of Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya. The majority of Daasanach people living in this marginalised area have no access to electricity. The Luke Lights will allow students to walk safely to evening study classes and have safe access to outdoor bathrooms within their boarding facility. Staff and teachers will use the units to enhance their work and stay connected while onsite at the boarding facility.
The nomadic life is mobile so the lights are loaded with all their household good dozens of times a year. In addition to Lights and training, the Nomad Foundation supplies these birth attendants with medicine, mosquito nets and other materials which reduce maternal and infant mortality. These women, none of whom have been to school before, migrate with the community they serve so are more available to treat patients than a fixed clinic in a city where nomads do not want to go. Since 2012 they have assisted with over 3500 births and no maternal mortalities while under their care. When The Nomad Foundation started Niger was rated the worst place in the world to be a mother and child by Save the Children. They are making progress.
When students end their school day and go home, they have no clean energy source in their homes, and must often use kerosene candles and lamps to do their homework. This project will create a series of Light Libraries at the REACH schools so that students can check out Luke Lights and use them for homework and test preparation. When they are finished, they will return them to the school for the next student to use.
The Backpacks For The Street (BFTS) program serves the metropolitan NYC area and has a mission to bring hope, compassion and dignity to the homeless. Since the COVID pandemic hit in Mach 2020, BFTS has served more than 19,000 homeless New Yorkers and is continuing to serve that population at the same pace, despite the lessening of some COVID restrictions.
A great majority of their clients have little access to places where they can use electricity to charge their phones. Many of the cafes and coffee houses still do not allow inside seating, or maintain limited seating, resulting in a significant reduction in places where they can charge items like cell service. The city also has a very limited number of public kiosks. Solar Chargers allow people experiencing homelesness to stay connected to family, services and the world at large.
This project will provide Chandler Chargers and Luke Lights to unhoused residents residing in the Westside of Los Angeles. COVID-19 and its continuing ramifications has seriously impacted the ways that we socially connect and has especially impacted our unhoused neighbors. The pandemic crisis continues to shut unhoused people out of spaces to charge their small devices, which are essential to daily life, wellbeing and security. UHRI will focus this distribution on reaching out to tent communities in West Los Angeles who remain some of the most marginalized of unhoused groups. They will also approach the Santa Monica Public Library system, as they reopen with limited space, to help with unmet needs there.
We’d like to send a special thanks to everyone who has participated in our Buy One | Give One sales. Your donated lights helped lay the foundation for these grants. In addition, Yuki & Shuji Nakamura’s generous gift enabled us to help more people than we could have imagined, in this inaugural round of funding. The workforce behind this effort were amazing interns from the UCSB Poverty, Inequality and Social Justice Minor: Olivia Adair, Rebecca Hart, and Duncan Edwards. Last, but not least, many thanks to the Grantmaking Committee: Suzanne Cross, Gisela Voss Kernan, Jordan Killebrew, and Olivia and Duncan.