GRID Alternatives Campaign Plan

Workforce Development Program 2017-2019

Octopi Relations: Paige Evans, Kellsie Brannen, Clara Meek, Matthew Lambrecht, Lindsay Miner & Olivia Sheehan 

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary 
  2. Situation Analysis 
  3. Key Publics Overview
  4. Strategies and Tactics
  5. Campaign Calendar 
  6. Proposed Budget 
  7. Evaluation
  8. Appendices

TO: GRID Alternatives Colorado

FROM: Octopi Communications

DATE: October 11, 2016

RE: PR Campaign Proposal for GRID Alternatives Colorado


  1. Executive Summary

GRID Alternatives is a Colorado-based solar nonprofit that installs solar panel on houses in low-income areas, lowering or eliminating the cost of energy for those households in a way that is sustainable and supports clean energy. They also have a somewhat-less developed and newer initiative in Colorado, their workforce development program, which allows them to provide training to populations often marginalized in the workforce and especially in the solar industry—ex-felons, women, people of color and so on—and provide them with life-long job skills that they can carry beyond GRID Alternatives into stable jobs. The company wants to raise one million dollars to go towards the latter initiative, which would allow the company to offer “scholarships” to people traditionally underrepresented in the solar industry and provide them with solar installation training for free, pay them to install solar panels and then allow them to obtain stable employment after their time with GRID with these new skills.

While GRID has garnered media coverage in the past, it nearly exclusively surrounds their “primary” project—installing solar panels in low income areas. Therefore, perceptions of the company are primarily focused on this rather than GRID’s workforce development work. We need to update the public’s understanding of the company’s programs and refresh their awareness of the company in general, particularly amongst our key publics. Therefore, our communications objectives center around raising one million dollars for the workforce development program by 2019, raising awareness of the program amongst possible donors and sponsors and increase brand awareness and outreach in general.

The key publics that GRID needs to reach are potential large donors, foundations, potential small donors and solar companies who are seeking (or could potentially seek) new, fully-trained employees. After considering research regarding these publics, we have determined  that using a combination of social media, events (both hosting and attending), outreach to local media, sponsorships, face to face communication and relationship building to best work in our favor.

Considering our key publics, communication goals and communication objectives, we arrived at the following strategies for recommendation: creating a presence at solar energy events, creating a more personal perception of the workforce development program by featuring stories on actual participants, creating a sponsorship program with companies in which they would fund a trainee that would go on to work for the company, creating an ongoing relationship with charitable organizations dedicated to employment issues, creating awareness among existing GRID donors of the Workforce Development Program and creating a Colorado-specific social media presence.


  1. Situation Analysis

The mission of GRID Alternatives is, according to their website,  “a transition to clean, renewable energy that includes everyone,” as well as to “…make renewable energy technology and job training available to underserved communities.” The company believes that “free, clean electricity from the sun should be available to everyone,” and that solar energy is not only environmentally good, but a solution to real-world economic issues in low-income communities—job training and development in sustainable careers and lowering (or eliminating) heating costs. There are several trends that will likely affect GRID Alternatives in a positive manner, including an increased interest in alternative and sustainable energy sources, both politically and socially. The solar market has seen huge growth in the past few years, particularly in Colorado, where it grew by triple digits in the past year alone. However, this also means that GRID Alternatives will have more voices in solar to compete with for the attention of its audience. In terms of workforce development, a substantial amount (over 80%) of Colorado solar companies report that they have either a somewhat or very difficult time finding qualified employees in the solar installation sector, which is a huge opportunity for GRID to draw interest to its workforce development program.

The current perception of GRID Alternatives in the media mainly centers around the company’s efforts to bring solar energy to underprivileged areas. The idea of bringing renewable, clean energy to low-income areas (since solar energy is typically seen as expensive and only reasonably available to the wealthy) and how it helps these communities to lower or eliminate energy costs dominates coverage, and there has been little to no media coverage of the workforce development program. We want to expand the perception of GRID as a company that not only brings solar to low-income areas to create sustainable energy solutions, but also one that offers workforce training to typically marginalized and/or underrepresented publics in the solar industry—ex-felons, women, people of color and so on. Our desired perception of GRID is a company that serves low-income and marginalized populations with solar through free solar installation AND workforce training.


SWOT Analysis


  • Solar energy involvement is understood, marketed and positively perceived
  • Solar energy industry is growing
  • Stand out in their industry as contributing to solar energy initiatives and job training and enhancement opportunities
  • Degree of information about solar panel installation in underserved communities is high

  • Degree of information about Workforce Development Program is low
  • Workforce Development Program is underrepresented in current media presence and/or is misunderstood as a key project of GRID Alternatives
  • Social media presence related to key publics and target audience

  • Clarify and solidify understanding of and perceptions of GRID Alternatives as active in job training and employment enhancement projects
  • Reach potential donors for the Workforce Development Program through social media engagement, events involvement and appeals to key public interest
  • Take advantage of growth in solar energy industry by involving this growth more directly in job training and employment enhancement opportunities/projects
  • Initiate long-term relationships with current and potential donors and sponsors for the Workforce Development Program

  • Misunderstanding of past communications/media perceptions
  • Other, more developed job training/work development/employment enhancement programs and projects
  • Saturation of the media by other solar companies in Colorado’s quickly growing solar industry

The core problem for GRID Alternatives as it prepares to launch its ambassador program and membership drive are its past communications and efforts at outreach with key publics most relevant in solar energy and job training programs. That being said, the most notable area of opportunity for GRID is in its capacity to engage with potential sponsors and donors via social media, events, involvement in programs and clarification of communication of desired perceptions, projects and goals. There are many levels of engagement plausible for GRID in reaching solar energy companies and/or organizations, job training and employment enhancement companies and/or organizations and companies and/or organizations looking to increase their community involvement and outreach. Thus, there is a valuable opportunity for GRID to redirect its past miscommunications/misunderstandings on the Workforce Development Program by engaging with various types of potential donors and sponsors through events and media so as to increase their attainment of funding, create long-term relationships with the key publics of the campaign and transform perceptions to progress brand awareness and brand image in terms of both solar energy and job training and employment enhancement.

Communication goals and objectives:

    • GOAL: Raise $1 Million in funding by 2019
      • OBJECTIVE:  Raise $200,00 by September 2017
      • OBJECTIVE: Raise additional $350,000 by September 2018
      • OBJECTIVE: Raise additional $450,000 by end of 2018
    • GOAL: Inform the community about GRID, specifically the workforce development program
      • OBJECTIVE: Host events as well as a sponsorship program that will help potential donors learn about GRID and the workforce development program.
    • GOAL: Increase outreach and brand awareness
      • OBJECTIVE: Increase awareness among key publics to GRID alternatives and the workforce development program through media outlets by 10


  1. Key Publics Overview

The key publics that GRID needs to reach during this campaign are potential large donors, particularly the executives of corporations; foundations; small donors, particularly individual donors; and, lastly, solar companies who may want to “sponsor” the training of employees who will eventually go on to work for them.

The executives of corporations are our key public for large donations, as these are a demographic that GRID has seen success with in the past for large donations and have the resources and motivation (tax write offs, good publicity) to donate large amounts of money to nonprofits. Individual donors are our second key public because, while this demographic has more limited resources in terms of monetary donations, their contributions are still valuable and provide a great opportunity for publicity (and, therefore, increased general awareness) for GRID. Finally, solar companies willing to participate in a sponsorship program are a key target for the campaign because they would be able to provide funding to train people in GRID’s workforce program with the incentive of obtaining qualified employees for their company.


Demographics and Psychographics of Key Publics

Corporate executives are overwhelmingly male (81%), white (80.2%) and between the ages of 50 and 59. The mean income for these individuals was $100,000, and the majority live in California, Illinois and New York, in descending order. The main defining demographic in this age group in terms of media consumption is age, as those ages 50-64 watch an average of 40 hours of television a week, beating out the 35-49 age group by 10 hoursthe largest jump between any age demographic. This age group is also less likely to engage in social media, although this number is rising, particularly amongst corporate leadership30% of Fortune 500 CEOs have an active presence on at least one social network, with LinkedIn (47%) and Facebook (45%) leading as the primary social networks of choice. Most companies have a philanthropic mission, and targeting foundations that support job increase and helping those with lower income. Once a man reaches the executive status, this leads to an added philanthropic responsibility. GRID represents an increasing field with increasing profits. GRID can increase the number of employed individuals and communities, and aid in a better working economy.

Individuals most likely to donate to nonprofits are married and religious, although beyond there is little difference between the giving habits of men and women (82% and 84% self-reported donating money to charity, respectively) or after age 30 (30 to 49 year olds reported donating money to charity at a rate of 86%, 50 to 64 year olds reported 87% and 65 and up reported 88%) so this demographic is very broad. However, there are various media channels that are also very broad in scope62% of the U.S. adult population uses Facebook, unmatched by any other social media site by half. The average American also watches a median of 5 hours of live television a day, although this rate increases with age—and, statistically, with an increase in age comes an increase in wealth, which means more ability to donate money to non-profits.

        The solar industry is projected to grow a staggering 119% by the end of 2016, indicating that the need for qualified employees is growing. In fact, 11.1% of solar companies in Colorado reported that it is very difficult to find qualified employees to hire in the installation sector, 70.6% reporting that it is somewhat difficult. The age and income levels of corporate leadership in the solar industry appear to be similar to the national average and, therefore, possess similar media habits; however, 44% of those who purchased solar paneling self-reported as being “tech-savvy” and these people skew slightly younger than typical corporate leadership, which may reflect solar-specific leadership more closely despite the fact that statistics on this narrow demographic don’t exist to the public at this time.

GRID Colorado receives positive press about bringing solar power to low income areas. A majority of the news outlets are Science and Technology themed. While any press is positive, reaching a more local news outlet such as 9News and Fox 31, GRID’s coverage would be reaching target audiences. Men and women ages 30+ are consuming 36 hours of television a week. Targeting these hours and getting GRID stories in front of this age group will be beneficial.


Key Publics Self-Interests

Generation X, 35-50, is part of the generation of our target audience. According to research, this generation want to see an immediate impact of their donation, prefer to donate online, likely to give to your cause, and enjoy volunteering as well as donating. Establishing a presence in this target audience will help GRID immensely. For individuals, it will be important to appeal to these characteristics.

It is important for us to market to the needs of our key publics as to best appeal to them. With large corporations, research has found corporate giving was $17.77 billion, increasing 13.7 percent (11.9 percent when inflation-adjusted) over 2013 giving. Donating is increasing, and roughly $4 Billion is generated through the workplace. Corporations have money to give and continue to donate it. To appeal to this public, we could invite specific corporations that we are targeting to come to GRID and see where their donations are going as well as meet the people whom their donations have made an impact on. After receiving donations from this public, we will ensure a continued relationship to gain more donations as time progresses.

Smaller corporations and individuals will need to be handled differently than our large donors, in respect to their more limited funds and our need to appeal to a wider range of these entities and people. It is important to help encourage the corporations to continue donating and reach the status of large corporations.

For the sponsorship program, we will need to first inform the executive team of our targeted solar companies about the program and what its benefits are. Donors of the Generation X prefer to see the impact of their gift immediately. Installing solar energy to low-income areas is something unique and gratifying for a donor.

        As our key publics are those of large and small corporations, as well as potential individual donors, it is crucial for us to determine the ways in which each of these publics is influenced. In terms of corporation donations and sponsors, it is important to keep in mind that the number one influencer is profit, and as a result there is competition between corporations.

Large corporations have influence and power within our targeted industries. However, the priority concern for profit can affect the social good in a negative or positive way, depending on the actions ensued to reach these profits. If we can convince corporations to donate or sponsor workforce development workers, it will reflect positively on them in the public eye. When the public sees of this social good that these corporations are participating in, their profits will most likely increase and GRID produces workers and energy, which reflects in a better economy. People are drawn to companies that they view as having a positive social impact. Small corporations are influenced in the same way. With more competition amongst this market, it will be important to focus on how donating and supporting GRID will make them stand out amongst other companies to consumers.

Individual donors are different from corporations due to the fact that they already have the money and there is no concern about profit or competition. GRID provides low income houses with solar energy, and these donors have a plethora of causes that they could be donating to, so the most important factor in convincing them to support GRID will be to concentrate on the human interest aspect of the workforce development program. By communicating that GRID is targeting veterans, ex-convicts, and women, and as the people who will benefit from these donations, donors will be more inclined to support the company.


Effective Media Channels

The Generation X is receiving their information on television and through the Internet. Facebook is a popular channel, and the generation spends on average 36 hours a week watching television. Television is most widely viewed amongst the demographics corresponding to our key publics of corporate donors and possible solar sponsors. Facebook is widely consumed by adult Americans of all age groups, particularly those who are younger than the prime television-viewing demographic. Because we have two very similar demographics in terms of media consumption (the corporate executives and solar company executives) that tend to be statistically older, utilizing coverage on local television stations will be crucial in reaching this public. It is also important to reach news outlets such as 9News and Fox 31 since Generation X consumes news media over the television. Because our market of individual donors is so broad, using both television and Facebook to disseminate information and reach both audiences will be most effective, as most Americans engage with both of these media on a daily basis. Traditional media channels are important too.


Key Messages by Public

Corporate Donors and Foundations

  1. Beat out other companies  in their philanthropic efforts and donate to the vastly expanding and gratifying world of Solar Energy.

Individual Donors

  1. Donate to the fast growing GRID Alternatives Workforce Development program and see immediate results in job turn out and solar panel installation.

Solar Companies

  1. GRID will train your new employee in the world of Solar Energy.
  2. Put your money into one of the most rapidly evolving economies, Solar Power.


  1. Strategies and Tactics

STRATEGY 1: Create a presence at solar energy events to develop recognition among the solar community and increase donations opportunities among potential donors and partners


  • Tactic: Attend and create exhibit at the Solar Power Colorado 2017 Conference (see Appendix A)
  • Tactic: Attend the monthly Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES) events (see Appendix B)
  • Tactic: Participate in the Colorado Energy Expo (see Appendix C)


STRATEGY 2: Elicit perceptions of the Workforce Development Program to be personal and motivational in nature to increase donation potential and attract program participation


  • Tactic: Pitch a news feature to 9 News highlighting a star employee from the program (see Appendix D)
  • Tactic: Pitch a news feature to Denver 7 about the Workforce Development Program (see Appendix E)
  • Tactic: Post testimonials on Youtube channel and GRID website from communities served by GRID (see Appendix F)
  • Tactic: Post testimonials on Youtube channel and GRID website from employees in the Workforce Development Program (see Appendix G)


STRATEGY 3: Create and develop a sponsorship program with companies and organizations that will fund and support a Workforce Development Program trainee


  • Tactic: Create and post testimonials by Workforce Development Program trainees explaining how meaningful and important the program is to them (see Appendix H)
  • Tactic: Plan a monthly summer seminar for potential sponsors to become educated on the Workforce Development Program and to meet employees/trainees of the program (see Appendices I-J)


STRATEGY 4: Create an ongoing relationship with charities/philanthropies/fundraising organizations dedicated to job and employment enhancement to increase donation potential


  • Tactic: Plan and host a solar powered concert that GRID Workforce Development Program employees/trainees will run; invite charities/philanthropies/fundraising organizations to attend the concert with the purchase of a ticket (see Appendices K-O)
  • Tactic: Host “Get to know us” events for small potential donors (see Appendices P-S)
  • Tactic: Invite potential donors, in particular, companies, to come spectate/volunteer for a day on one of GRID’s projects (see Appendices T-U)


STRATEGY 5: Create awareness among existing GRID donors of the Workforce Development Program so as to enhance donations for this GRID program specifically


  • Tactic: Create and publish a bi-monthly donor newsletter with updates on current and future GRID projects, especially regarding the Workforce Development Program (see Appendix V)
  • Tactic: Plan and host an auction for donors centered around current and future GRID projects, specifically the Workforce Development Program, so as to elicit donations (see Appendices W-X)
  • Tactic: Invite current and potential sponsors to attend and contribute to the Colorado Community Solarthon (see Appendices Y-AA)


STRATEGY 6: Create a Colorado-distinctive online presence to generate GRID brand awareness


  • Tactic: Link Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to post and share articles/graphics/videos/images daily (see Appendix AB)
  • Tactic: Post regular Youtube videos also to be linked to Facebook/Instagram/Twitter (see Appendix AC)
  • Tactic: Create a hashtag campaign for social media using #SolarMakesJobs (see Appendix AD)
  • Tactic: Create a Google Ads account to optimize searches for GRID, solar energy, jobs, employment and job training (see Appendix AE)




Colorado goes solar and gets jobs with GRID  _____________________________________________________________________________

  1. Campaign Calendar:

______________________________________________________________________________6. Proposed Budget For Grid Alternatives Communications Campaign

Appendix AF


  1. Evaluation

Evaluation Techniques For Communications Campaign

Objective 1:

  • Raise $200,00 by September 2017
  • Raise additional $350,000 by September 2018
  • Raise additional $450,000 by end of 2018

These objectives can be very easily evaluated by keeping a running total of dollars raised as the campaign moves along. Anything at or above the projected numbers will be considered successes as will any number at or above the total at the end of the campaign.

Objective 2:

  • Host events as well as a sponsorship program that will help potential donors learn about GRID and the workforce development program.

This objective will be evaluated by establishing “check in” protocols at events in order to track how many people are getting the information we want them to get regarding the Workforce Development program. This can be done through “RSVP” totals as well as someone with a counter at event entrances.

Objective 3:

  • Increase awareness among key publics to GRID alternatives and the workforce development program through media outlets by 10%

This objective will be evaluated via click-throughs on articles on social media and digital media outlets as well as by using Google analytics to look into Google Adwords success. Any growth in awareness at or above ten percent will be considered a success.


  1. Appendices

Listed below are the necessary tactical materials related to this campaign plan and a brief overview of their involvement in fulfilling the campaign’s needs.

A: Presentation/Display for Solar Power Colorado 2017 Conference Exhibit

    • A physical presentation consisting of small informational and testimonial blurbs, pictures of GRID Alternatives projects in action, flyers and pamphlets to be used in GRID’s attendance and exhibition at the Solar Power Colorado 2017 Conference

B: Lanyards for GRID representatives at monthly Colorado Renewable Energy Society events

    • Colorful lanyards with GRID Alternatives’ logo and a photograph exemplifying GRID’s work to be worn by GRID representatives at all CRES events attended each month

C: Presentation/Display for Colorado Energy Expo

    • An engaging/interactive display of solar panels and/or the construction of solar panels to be used in GRID’s participation in the Colorado Energy Expo

D: News Release for 9 News Feature

    • Create an external news release about a star employee of GRID’s Workforce Development program including photographs and video footage of this employee to be sent to 9 News for a possible feature story

E: News Release for Denver 7 News Feature

    • Write an external informational news release detailing GRID’s Workforce Development Program to be sent to Denver 7 for a possible  feature story

F: Testimonial Video Footage of Communities Served

    • Video footage to be taken of GRID projects in action, individual interviews citing the importance of GRID’s work and appreciation of the community, communities using their GRID-installed solar panels, community effects of increased workforce development and after effects of GRID’s work in the community that is testimonial in nature to be posted on the Youtube channel and website

G: Testimonial Video Footage of Workforce Development Employees

    • Video footage to be taken of individuals participating the the Workforce Development program through training, installation of solar panels and other GRID-related work, job training, improvement of skills relevant to employment, employment following participation in Workforce Development Program, and interviews of employees and trainees of the program that are testimonial in nature and will be posted on the Youtube channel and website

H: Testimonial/ Motivational Video Footage of Workforce Development Employees

    • In-depth, personalized, individualized interview video footage of participants of the Workforce Development program on how important the program is/has been to them, ways it has changed their lives and encouragement of others to participate in the program

I: Presentation for Monthly Summer Seminars

    • Create a digital presentation on topic of monthly summer seminars hosted by GRID including data, statistics, quotes, photographs, videos, graphics and other visual elements that will enable the speaker(s)

J: Flyers for Monthly Summer Seminars

    • Create a physical and digital version of a flyer marketing the monthly summer seminars hosted by GRID that will be colorful and engaging and feature relevant photographs and stand-out words/phrases to attract an audience

K: Flyers for Solar Powered Concert

    • Create colorful flyers for the solar powered concert featuring pictures of the performers and an engaging photograph of solar panels at work to be distributed around target markets leading up to the show

L: Digital Flyer for Solar Powered Concert

    • Create a digital flyer for the solar powered concert that will be posted on the website, all social media and attached in email promotionals

M: Digital Invitation for Solar Powered Concert

    • Create a digital invitation to the solar concert to be sent to all donors and potential donors and sponsors

N: Ticket for Solar Powered Concert

    • Create a ticket for the solar powered concert to allow admittance and confirm purchase

O: Poster Design for Solar Powered Concert

    • Create poster/design for marketing of solar powered concert to be distributed and displayed in public target market areas, on lamp posts around Denver and in any other locations with a high potential volume of views

P: Invitation for “Get to know us” Event

    • Design and develop a physical and digital invitation to be distributed to potential donors that is eye-catching, engaging and easy to understand

Q: Reminder for “Get to know us” Event

    • Design and develop a physical and digital reminded to be distributed to those that received the invitation for the event, both that have RSVP’d and that have not that is in the same color scheme and format as the invitation

R: Pamphlet for “Get to know us” Event

    • Create a pamphlet to be handed out to guests at the event that is both comprehensive and succinct while engaging and eye-catching in its design

S: Presentation/Display for “Get to know us” Event

    • Create a presentation to be shown at the event that gives the viewers a comprehensive look at GRID, their mission and their accomplishments while expressing the need and benefit for donors and/or sponsors

T: Invitation for Spectate/Volunteer Day

    • Design and create a physical and digital invitation for potential and current donors/sponsors to come to one of GRID’s present projects to view and/or contribute to the project that is engaging, organized and easy to follow

U: Reminder for Spectate/Volunteer Day

    • Create and distribute a physical and digital reminder to be distributed to all those invited to view and/or contribute to one of GRID’s ongoing projects that is in the same color scheme and format as the invitation

V: Newsletter Layout/Design

    • Develop/create a layout/design to be used for all future bi-monthly donor newsletters that includes the GRID Alternatives logo and is eye-catching, organized and easy to follow

W: Invitation to GRID Auction

    • Design/create a physical and digital invitation to GRID’s donor auction to be sent to all past, current and potential donors and sponsors

X: Digital Reminder of GRID Auction

    • Create a digital reminder of the GRID auction to be in the same general format/ color scheme as the invitations that will be emailed to every individual/organization invited to the auction and posted on the website and all social media before the auction

Y: Invitation for Current and Potential Donors/Sponsors to Colorado Community Solarthon

    • Create an invitation to be distributed physically and digitally to current and future donors/sponsors for attendance and participation in GRID’s Colorado Community Solarthon

Z: Digital Advertisement of Colorado Community Solarthon

    • Create a digital poster marketing GRID’s flagship and fundraising event, Community Solarthon to be emailed to all current and potential donors/sponsors and posted on the website and all social media before the event

AA: Video Montage of Past Community Solarthon Events

    • Create a video montage of photographs and video footage of past GRID Community Solarthon events around the country to create excitement and anticipation that will be posted on the website and all social media, including re-posting on social media as the event date gets closer

AB: Uniform Social Media Presence Guide

    • Develop guidelines to ensure that all social media posts and presence are cohesive, engaging, linked and uniform

AC: Uniform Video Guide

    • Develop guidelines to ensure that all videos and similar media projects are cohesive and uniform in their use of GRID logos, key words and phrases, descriptions, background and foreground music, effects and editing style

AD: Hashtag Campaign Guide

    • Develop guidelines and examples for the hashtag campaign, #SolarMakesJobs, to ensure a cohesive and linked effort at establishing a Colorado-distinctive online/social media presence

AE: Google Ads Guide

    • Develop guidelines for words and phrases to be included in GRID’s Google Ads account that will ensure the optimization of searches, the relevance of GRID’s online presence and use as a Google Ad, create engagement from clicks on Google Ad, and maintain support from Google Ads

AF: Budget Included as Attachment


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