The History of Project ReCharge
Project ReCharge was created in 2009 by Envirolution co-founders Alex Gamboa and Antuan Cannon. The program’s primary mission was to empower and educate youth to take a hands-on approach to save money for their schools through saving energy. The content for the original energy efficiency lessons were developed from various industry recognized and certified education training manuals and were refined over the years with the help from Envirolution’s staff and AmeriCorp VISTA members. The original funding for this program came from multiple small community grants and partnerships, including a partnership with The Desert Research Institute (DRI) GreenPower Program in late 2010.
In 2012, Envirolution was introduced to Hampden Kuhns of LoadIQ, a Reno based tech company focused on developing a new energy monitoring system. Realizing the potential to take Project ReCharge to a new level of technical innovation, Envirolution partnered with David Crowther at the Raggio Research Center for STEM Education in the College of Education at the University of Nevada – Reno (UNR), and in the fall of 2014, the Project ReCharge team received Nevada’s first NSF ITEST grant valued at $1.2 million over the span of three years. (Award Number 1433597-Project ReCharge)
From 2009-2015, Envirolution introduced Project ReCharge to 100+ teachers in Nevada and over 10 schools in Washoe County and Douglas County. The 3-year NSF ITEST grant allowed UNR and Envirolution the opportunity to reach over 4,500 students and 47 teachers by giving them $55,000 in classroom resources and the knowledge, skills, and technology to reduce their school’s energy use and save money year after year. Project ReCharge significantly exceeded all the goals outlined in the NSF grant. In 2016, Dilworth and Mendive Middle Schools installed lighting retrofits, saving the WCSD 53,880 KWh a year.
Realizing the potential to expand the technical and workforce development reach, Envirolution partnered with the Raggio Research Center for STEM Education in the College of Education at the University of Nevada – Reno, and in the fall of 2014, the Project ReCharge team received Nevada’s first National Science Foundation ITEST grant valued at $1.2 million over the span of three years. This initial funding was followed by the Nevada Department of Education Math/Science Partnership Grant Program for the 2017-2018 academic year as part of the Northern Nevada Energy Efficiency Teacher Training Initiative (NNEETTI).
In 2018 Envirolution partnered with the Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy and Tesla, through their Nevada K-12 Education Gift Fund investment of $37.5 million over 5 years. Envirolution is committed to continuous evaluation and improvement of the program, refining and updating curriculum and activities year after year, while offering assistance to teachers long after their initial training. To do this, Envirolution added a curriculum manager, a program manager, and a co-executive director. These positions will allow the program to expand while staying committed to continual updates and improvements.
Project ReCharge is currently in 50 schools across 11 school districts. The student proposals that Project ReCharge has supported have saved school districts over $641,000, the equivalent kWh of taking 704 home off the grid for a year, and reducing CO2 by the equivalent of 460 cars for one year. We currently have 28 teachers training in the 2020/2021 school year. These teachers are getting the best hands-on, project based learning out there!