How to Ensure Sunny Days Ahead for High Schools’ Solar Project

effort to put panels on North, Memorial nears matching gift deadline

V1 Staff |


Sunlight, we are told, is the best disinfectant. It’s also a good, carbon-free way to make electricity. Thanks to some generous donations, Eau Claire’s North and Memorial high schools could both be outfitted with rooftop solar panels this summer, but some additional community help is needed to carry the project over the quarter million dollar finish line.

The project is more than 70% of the way toward that fundraising goal, and the gap could be filled in the coming weeks with the help of a matching gift challenge by the Pablo Foundation. In April, the Pablo Foundation pledged to match up to $25,000 in other donations; the community responded with $45,000, exceeding the challenge.

Now, the Pablo Foundation is back with another $25,000 matching gift challenge, which sunsets Friday, June 5 – the official end of the school year. Another generous response from the community could help the project reach its goal and become reality.

“The project has made incredible progress through the spring months despite the pandemic,” said the Eau Claire Public Schools Foundation, which is overseeing the project. “Donors believe in the value of incorporating solar education into the STEM curriculum for North and Memorial high schools, and the project has seen great momentum in recent weeks.”

The Solar on Eau Claire Schools Project was launched late last year thanks to the generosity of Cal Couillard, a Memorial alumnus. Couillard – whose foundation has an ambitious goal of getting solar panels on the roofs of 100 Wisconsin schools in the next four years – has agreed to donate half of the required solar panels. Another anonymous donor will match this gift if $250,000 in private donations are raised to install and maintain the 720 panels – 360 on each high school.

In addition to the Pablo Foundation, the project has been funded by the L.E. Phillips Family Foundation and numerous individual donors. In addition to seeking community donations, the school district is pursuing a Focus on Energy grant through the state of Wisconsin, which would be worth $28,000 to $32,000.

To learn more about the project or to make a donation, visit the Eau Claire Public Schools Foundation online. Checks can also be mailed to Eau Claire Public Schools Foundation, P.O. Box 511, Eau Claire, WI 54702.