The company highlights last year’s grantees while announcing $1,000 new grants to engage local middle and high schools around the region’s growing clean energy sector and to highlight the urgency of climate change

Northfield, MA – April 21, 2022 – In celebration of Earth Day, FirstLight Power, a leading clean provider of renewable energy and energy storage resources, announced today that the company is starting the second year of its Valley Climate Champions education grant program. The program was launched last year to engage Franklin County middle and high school teachers and students on the region’s growing clean energy sector and to highlight the urgency of climate change. The program offers seven $1,000 grants to high school and middle school teachers. An additional $2,000 will be awarded to the grant recipient with the best project, which will be presented in the Spring of 2023. 

“Our local schools were amazing in their response to the Valley Climate Champions Program last year, and FirstLight is proud to offer this grant program to Franklin County teachers and students again,” said Alicia Barton, CEO of FirstLight. “We are excited to continue engaging our local community on the importance of clean energy and once again spark creativity in our future clean energy leaders. This program is built to encourage conversations around climate change and to empower our neighboring teachers and youth to come up with innovative projects using clean, renewable energy – and in the first year, it successfully did just that.” 

As one of last year’s Valley Climate Champions grantees – and the recipient of the additional $2,000 prize – Franklin County Technical School Science Teacher Matt Gancz embarked on a novel project to study energy conservation and energy conversion with his 10th grade students. The students used the grant to build an outdoor brick oven for baking pizza and bread. During the planning phase, students calculated how much energy it would take to heat the oven to baking temperature. From there, students used a calorimeter to test the energy that’s released from the combustion of seasoned wood. The students recently celebrated their accomplishments with a pizza party. 

“The Valley Climate Champions grant program was an invaluable opportunity to work hands-on with our students; it allowed Franklin County Technical School to exercise our stewardship attitudes in regard to natural resources,” said Gancz. “We used this unique opportunity to discuss the use of wood for heat in New England, and to learn about renewable versus nonrenewable resources. Our students learned the importance of renewable energy and the recycling of materials, and this project encouraged them to learn more about our local clean energy economy.”

FirstLight’s Valley Climate Champions Program encourages eligible Franklin County teachers to apply through a rolling online application form by October 1, 2022. In this short application, teachers will share their preliminary approach and will outline how they plan to engage students on the positive impact of clean energy on the region, including highlighting local jobs in the renewable energy sector, energy equity, environmental justice, and other relevant topics. The final product can consist of interviews, projects, or another relevant area that is of interest to them – creativity is encouraged!