Pitzer Students’ Solar Initiative Selected for Projects for Peace Award

Robert Little ’15 and Lauren Phipps ’15
Robert Little ’15 and Lauren Phipps ’15

Claremont, Calif. (March 30, 2015)—Pitzer College seniors Robert Little ’15 and Lauren Phipps ’15 have been awarded $10,000 by Davis Projects for Peace to fund a community-owned, women-run solar project in Ghana. This is the first year Pitzer has been eligible for an award from Projects for Peace, which supports undergraduates’ efforts to create and carry out projects that help foster peace around the world.

Little and Phipps’ “The Power to Empower” project addresses the dearth of electricity in rural Ghana, where people often travel for a day to charge a cell phone and rely on kerosene lamps or flashlights after dark. In Ghana, a third of the population lacks reliable sources of electrical power. This summer, “The Power to Empower” will create a community-owned solar center in a small village and train women to run the project with the dual aim of promoting renewable energy and female leadership through locally based social entrepreneurship.

Little and Phipps will work closely with village elders and a local translator, who will help navigate the multiple languages spoken in Ghana’s rural villages. With their community partners, Little and Phipps will install a photovoltaic panel kit that is produced by a Ghana-based company and provide business training to the female entrepreneurs who have been selected by village elders to work on the project. They plan to visit each of the 70-90 households in the village to explain how to use the new equipment and the health, educational and economic benefits of the new community solar center and lamps.

Little and Phipps are both double majors in environmental analysis and sociology and studied abroad on the Pitzer in Costa Rica program in spring 2014. Little spent two summers during college in Ghana conducting self-designed research on plastic water sachet lifecycles. On campus, he has worked as an admission fellow, resident assistant and manager of the Green Bike Program. Phipps served as a science and environment teaching assistant at the W.M. Keck Science Department and as a Residence Life mentor. Last summer, she interned in Guatemala with Ecofiltro, a social enterprise dedicated to bringing clean water to rural communities.

The Davis Projects for Peace program invites undergraduates from 91 US colleges and universities that participate in the Davis United World College Scholars Program to design grassroots projects that promote peace. Pitzer College became a Davis United World College Scholars Program partner this academic year. A total of 127 winning projects were selected and awarded $10,000 each for implementation during the summer of 2015.

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