“[I]t’s funny to try to explain that to people because when people think of fundraising, they think of: great, they’re going to ask me for more money. And that’s exactly opposite of what this is. I’m not asking – and I’m not only not going to ask you for money, I’m actually going to save you money on your electric bill. You’re not paying for panels. You’re not paying for an installation. You’re just paying a lower electric bill, around 30% less.” – Ernie Delgado, FUNDS4SOLAR

The following transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. Listen to the full podcast episode here or using the player below.


Beyond Technology Education
Contact Ernie Delgado: ernie@funds4solar.com
Lauralyn Vasquez on The Teacher’s Lounge
“Why Is My Electric Bill So High?” (blog post on FUNDS4SOLAR)


Michael Arnold: Ernie Delgado joins the Teacher’s Lounge today. Ernie’s been providing support and services for private and faith-based schools for over 20 years. He began as a computer teacher in California, and then went on to manage school computer labs. Ernie co-founded Beyond Technology Education to support schools with their technology infrastructure.

He served as the president of the Chino Valley Hill, sorry, the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce. He helped form the young adult ministry at his parish, St. Paul the Apostle in Chino Hills, and recently founded FUNDS4SOLAR, another service and fundraising opportunity for private and faith-based schools. So we want to welcome Ernie here today. He’s got a lot to share with us.

Ernie Delgado: I think I do. First, I have to correct one thing. You said 20 years in ed tech; I’ve actually been in ed tech for 30 years.

Michael Arnold: Okay. Alright.

Ernie Delgado: I’ve earned every one of those – have to make sure.

Michael Arnold: I wouldn’t believe it was a day over 15, Ernie. You look great.

Ernie Delgado: Stop. Please stop. Thank you for letting me in The Teacher’s Lounge. I’ve always wondered what it’s like in here. I’m finally allowed in..

Michael Arnold: Now you’re here. This is what it’s like.

Ernie Delgado: That’s fantastic. Thank you.


Michael Arnold: So Ernie, you’ve been familiar with Curriculum Trak for quite some time. We’ve crossed paths in a variety of ways. We serve a lot of the same schools in the same networks. So there’s a lot of crossover; a lot of things we could talk about. But as I said, I want to focus on your latest venture, FUNDS4SOLAR.

That’s exciting. I kind of put that in kind of the creation care category, that faith-based schools especially are concerned about. But how would you describe it for our listeners? What’s your elevator pitch?

Ernie Delgado: Well, FUNDS4SOLAR is a renewable energy fundraising program. Most families have considered getting rooftop solar on their home, if they haven’t already done it. And so we give schools an option where they could partner with us and their parents that go with solar. We actually give a donation back to the school for each installation. So we’re helping schools raise money, we’re helping families save money, and we’re helping the environment; which could use a lot more help. So it’s my little contribution to solving the problem, I should say.

Michael Arnold: Yeah. And I want to unpack that further with you here in a few minutes, but I want to say here at the offset, this kind of has or could have an infomercial feel, as far as a podcast episode. But it’s really more about promoting what I believe to be a great opportunity, great resources. And that’s certainly something we’re about at Curriculum Trak. Connecting people in our network with great resources. So this isn’t really a sales pitch; it’s more of a story. And I want to invite you in to kind of share it, but also point to some great resources along the way.

Curriculum Trak and Beyond Technology

Michael Arnold: So let’s start with why these things make sense to you. Why does it make sense to connect solar with faith-based schools?

Ernie Delgado: Yeah, that’s actually a great way to start the conversation because – to back up a moment, you’re right. We’ve known Curriculum Trak for many years. We do swim in the same pond. It’s a small pond, and so we run into each other all over the place, and I believe strongly in what you guys do. And the teachers that I know that work with your tools are just very happy with what they provide. So that’s a good one.

And just to back into this, you know me from Beyond Technology Education; I founded that company 20 years ago. I’ve been the CEO/co-founder since and we’ve done some good work with schools, all-around computer science and curriculum professional development integration, and it’s a great place to be.

Technology, it’s changed a lot in the last 20 years. And we liked that we kind of plugged into that environment and helped schools go to the next level. Part of that journey led me to science standards; next generation science standards in particular.

Ernie’s experiences with wildfires in Carbon Canyon, California that inspired FUNDS4SOLAR

Ernie Delgado: And I was always intrigued with the renewable energy portion of that, because if you were to look outside my window – I work from home like a lot of us do, and you would see nothing but rolling hills around my house, that I was surrounded by rolling hills, and actually grew up in this area. It’s a place called Carbon Canyon. It’s very special to me. We’re in Chino Hills technically, but even before Chino Hills was incorporated as a city, Carbon Canyon was a place that people were aware of, and I grew up here and I still live here. I moved right down the street, actually moved down into town and then back into Carbon Canyon when I could, and we love it here.

But the interesting part, and I think what you were kind of wanting to know more about is when I grew up here – yeah, I think that was 1979 when we moved here – wildfires were always an issue. It’s still an issue. It’s something that’s happened many times in my lifetime living here. And it’s gotten worse over the last five years in particular. Obviously we know why: dry conditions and climate conditions are getting worse. And the house I live in, before I owned it, actually burned to the ground in the 70s.

You can still see some of the trees all burned outside. If you actually go under my house, you see some charred out bricks and stuff. It was rebuilt on the same foundation, but it was rebuilt in the eighties. I actually bought it in ’01. And since ’01, we’ve been evacuated twice, and we’ve had probably eight fires in the area. We just had one today, believe it or not. It’s a very small one, and I saw the helicopters putting it out real fast. So this last one is the one that really moved me.

My son was eight years old at the time and it really was powerful how that happened. The first one was even more crazy. The flames came right up to the back of my house; my neighbor who stayed – we got evacuated, but my neighbor stayed – I didn’t know that you could actually tell them, no, I’m going to stay and protect my house. I got out of here with the animals and my fiancée at the time.

But the crazy part, I’m not sure if I told you this part, when that first evacuation happened, I had my, my fiancée had, we had just had an earthquake. She’s from Ohio – so she’s in Southern California now, we just had an earthquake, her cat had almost been murdered by a cayote so she was like frantic, and then we have a wildfire. Our house always burns down. I grew up playing baseball – that’s three strikes; I thought, okay, she’s not going to marry me. She’s leaving. She’s going back to Ohio. I lost her.

Thank goodness, bless the firemen, but the big tanker came over my house. I had this on video – came in, did that red spray, and saved this whole block that I live on. Helicopters dropped water, and it was very powerful to watch that video. We were just engaged at the time. But you go forward nine years and now we have an eight-year-old, and the same thing happened again. And they said, get out of here, and she didn’t want anything to do with sticking around. I go, let’s get outta here. And I just remember my son’s face watching the fire as we’re leaving, and we couldn’t – we didn’t have time to pack everything. Just necessities. And I’ll never forget, “Dad, what about my Legos?” That was just, “Dad, my Legos, they’re not fireproof.” And he was stressed out about this and I’m thinking, well, son our whole house is in danger, you know? I understand your Legos. Let’s get out of here. And then we’ll talk about this as you process this.

And we went to my parents’ house and my sister was there. We all got together because there’s nothing we could do. We were helpless at that point. And, we had the Ring doorbell. And so my son, smart kid, he said, “Dad, go look at your phone on their doorbell. Let’s see if the house is still there.” I didn’t even think of that.

Kids and technology, they’re all, they’re like married, right?

And so we looked at the doorbell; the house was still there. So every couple hours: “Dad, just check the doorbell.” And so we got to watch and make sure our house is okay. And one of our neighbors, he stayed again. It was a very powerful opportunity, not just to see the situation unfold on the news with the neighbors, but to actually see it from the eyes of an eight-year-old. And he was very, very concerned and it really impacted him in a big way.

Go forward 48 hours, we were allowed back into the Canyon. We drove back home. The house was still there. You could see some charred hillsides. And my son ran in and there was his Legos. Everything worked out right. But I noticed that it was a very traumatic moment for him. And I sat there and I said, okay, I grew up in this canyon. I’ve been dealing with wildfires regularly and I just kind of go with it. What can I do to help the problem? How can I help the environment? How can I turn things around?

I’m not going to go become a fireman; I think I’m a little old for that. But there are things we can do as homeowners, as consumers, to help the environment. And it’s funny because I had been contemplating getting solar on my home and I had already talked to three companies. One of ’em was a finance scenario and the bill to finance the installation in the panels was more than my electric bill.

Installing solar panels in Ernie’s home

Ernie Delgado: I’m not trying to put myself deeper in the hole. I wanted to find a cheaper solution. I did talk to another company, who’s a lease program. The payment was higher than my bill. And the third one – I’m so happy I didn’t do it – it was some kind of government program where they put a lien on your tax bill or something like that. It was called a “Hero Program,” and now you’re stuck on your tax bill forever. A lot of people did that. It became a really bad solution for them.

And then my buddy started working for a company called Vivint, which merged recently with Sunrun. And they offered something called a PPA. Again, I don’t want to get too commercial, but this is the program that I ended up going with. Because if you qualify, if you own the home, if you have a good roof, a decent credit score, they actually will pay to install – they’ll actually cover the cost of your solar installation. So when my friend approached me with this, I told him I’ve already been through this process three times and it never worked. He’s all, look at this model. I’m not steering you in the wrong direction. And I got approved for it. They installed it. To this day I haven’t paid a dime for the panels or the installation or the maintenance or the monitoring, but I do pay a lower electric bill. So it’s pretty cool.


Ernie Delgado: And I sat there, and let’s go forward another like eight, nine months and I was sitting at this desk during COVID when all of us were home, trying to figure out what’s going to happen in the world. I see my school customers struggling to keep the doors open. And I thought to myself, this solar program, I’m sure there’s a lot of families that are in a similar situation, trying to lower their bills, improve the environment.

What if I put together a fundraiser for my customers where it’s like a referral program? If your families are thinking about solar, refer them to us. If they qualify for this program or if they want to do a lease or purchase, we do all of those, but this PPA is really a good deal cause there’s no money out of pocket. If they qualify and they get installation, I’ll donate $500 back to the school. And people heard this message and said, yeah, let’s do it. So it’s a pretty simple process: send out emails to your families, “Hey, you considering solar? Talk to our partner. They’ll donate to the school.”

Natural disasters affect all regions in the US

Michael Arnold: More about that in just a second, if you don’t mind if I just interrupt, but I’m going back to just going back to the Legos and the sense of helplessness. The sense of helplessness is like, what can we do? What’s a tangible thing we can do to make a difference? And that was what really impressed me, when you were doing another event and invited Curriculum Trak out to be a part of it. And after you graciously came, took me on a tour of your neighborhood there, your region I’d never been to before. And you’re showing me the beauty of that region. And I think the first thought in my mind – because most of us, I’m in the Midwest, most of us think about California and we immediately think of forest fires, right? Or wildfires. And so I asked you about it because I could not imagine just living in that beauty; it’s a beautiful part of the world, but having that as a threat. And so I think that that would resonate with a lot of people; certainly it did with me. Just that idea of there’s only so much you can do, but what is a tangible thing to do? And so I think that and that’s how you introduced me to this in the first place. And so I wanted to share.

Ernie Delgado: If I could update that a little bit. We had our event in Irvine at Concordia University, which is a good 20 minutes from where I live here. And then I took you to Newport Beach. Remember we saw the beach right down the street from where we were at? A place called Laguna Hills? Just yesterday, Michael, 20 houses burned to the ground from a wildfire. This just happened.

Michael Arnold: Yeah, I saw that but I didn’t even make the connection.

Ernie Delgado: It was right down the street from where we were. So this is not an isolated – it’s something all over the Southwest. Communities have been burned down to the ground up north. And I’m not going to bash the utilities, but it’s been proven that some of these fires were caused by faulty power lines with these obsolete grid systems.

And so there’s so many reasons why people should consider alternatives and try to figure out how I can be part of the solution.

Michael Arnold: Now tell someone like me: I live in the Ohio River Valley so drought is not necessarily a problem that we face. We don’t have wildfires like that. And yet solar still would make sense for me, for us, because A: we still get sunlight. But B: we have a lot of other creation care concerns that solar – so how would you unpack that for someone who’s like, hey, well, that’s not our problem. How could they be part of the solution?

Ernie Delgado: Well, there’s a couple of things happening in the industry that I think are really exciting and people should pay attention. I’m not familiar with all the laws and rules where you live, but in lots of the country, states are going away from grid systems. They’re looking for renewable sources.

Here in California, for example, part of the legislation is, all cars by 2045 that are sold in California need to be electric. I mean, it’s not even if, it’s when. And all, by 2035, all power needs to be generated from renewable sources. That’s game-changing. And a lot of states are looking at that model, especially in the Southwest. I know where you’re at, maybe not as big of a deal, but something to consider.

Solar battery solution

Ernie Delgado: And this is something that I tell a lot of people. I don’t recommend they do it now, but think about solar battery solution. With the solar battery, when you’re collecting the sun, the battery just stores it. So at night, you actually take power from your own battery rather than pulling it out of the grid. That just, again, improves the solution even more, improves the problem even more. And what’s also interesting is the batteries are smart batteries.

A lot of electric companies around the country are changing their model and how they charge you for power. A lot of states are going to something called “time of use.” They’ve evaluated your power usage, my power usage, everybody’s usage, And they have learned that between 3:00 and 8:00 is when we use the most power. So guess when they raise the rates? Between 3:00 and 8:00; they’re not dummies. They’re monopolies for a reason. So what’s cool is with the battery solution, you can actually game that scenario by storing the power and selling it back to them between 3:00 and 8:00.

And so you’re actually getting more credits for your power. Now this doesn’t work everywhere, but this works where you have time of use. And it’s funny.

Using local renewable energy

Ernie Delgado: And I will plug one little thing real quick; I did a video on our blog where people could learn how to read their bill. Have you ever read your electric bill?

Michael Arnold: No, I try not to.

Ernie Delgado: Well, it’s kind of complicated. They don’t make it easy to understand what’s going on. The biggest challenge, and again, I’m going to speak to California and the Southwest because this is where I do most of my activity, but most in California, for example, we’re a big state, and we use a lot of power.

We use way more power than we produce. Part of the Clean Energy Act is we’re shutting down all of our nuclear power plants, and we’re having to buy power from Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and we actually have to pay for that import charge. So before the power is even to our house, we’re paying 30% to 50% of our bill just to get it to our house. And this happens for most people; the power has to get to you and then you pay for what you use.

So when you have solar, just think about it. And it makes so much sense, instead of having a cable from Nevada connected to your home and paying for that all along the way, which you lose a lot of the power along the way – these systems are obsolete. But when you’re generating power on your roof, it’s one simple cable in your power box. It just makes so much more sense.

Now I hear people say, I don’t like the way the panels look. There’s so many reasons. But you look at all the wires around the country. That’s uglier than panels on your roof and plus, they’re causing fires and they’re inefficient. So we’re really going through a renaissance in how we do it. And a lot of people are figuring it out: local renewable. It’s either hydroelectric, which is water; if you live near a river, that’s not a bad option. Or it’s using the sun, or it’s using the wind. Out in Palm Springs they have these huge wind farms, and they’re all over the country now and all over the world. It’s another way to generate power.

So it’s exciting, as an educator and someone who pays attention to science standards, to start seeing some of these theories become practice and actually making a difference. Some countries are a little ahead of us in how they do this. Some of the Scandinavian countries, they have times when 100% of their power, for the whole country, was generated by renewable means. So we have a long way to go as a country, but we’re getting there. People are starting to understand the power of this.

Main challenge for schools trying to keep up with the latest technology

Michael Arnold: And this idea – I mean the technology has definitely advanced a lot in recent years and maybe even decades. And I think that maybe part of the problem is that we have a hard time keeping up with technology advances. We don’t realize how efficient this truly can be. And that, I think kind of fits back into your other line of work, working with schools and trying to help them keep up with the advancements in technology when it comes to their technology and infrastructure at their school. What would you say is the main challenge that schools face when it comes to keeping up with technology? It seems to be – it’d be money, right? Like just financing.

Ernie Delgado: Actually, no. That was the problem – is funding, technology, hardware, software, connectivity. There’s a lot of that here; in California it’s e-rate. There’s a lot of state and federal programs to get technology. The Chromebook has changed the game for a one-to-one program because instead of paying a thousand dollars for a laptop, now you can get it for $299. And now you can get three Chromebooks for the price of one laptop. So it’s still an issue, Michael, don’t get me wrong. Paying for equipment is still part of the computation that schools have to make budget-wise. But the bigger challenge is teachers’ comfortability and teachers learning how to use the technology.

I talk to schools; the bottleneck has always been getting your staff to the minimum level. If you have 40, 30, 20 teachers at a school, that’s 40, 30, 20 different ability levels. Now, back in the day, and again, I could say this because I’ve been doing this for 30 years – this is a funny story. We used to do a lot of professional development, which we still do a lot of professional development; but we had this class where the teachers came in and the teacher actually picked the mouse up off the desk and put it on the floor because she thought it was like a sewing machine pedal, and that’s how it worked. Everyone was like looking at her; she was the only one that did that. And I haven’t seen anyone do it since, but that was kind of the mindset of teachers back in the day. What is this thing? And how do I use it, is it a pedal or a…?

We don’t have that problem anymore. The bottleneck is much larger. It has opened up a lot, but it’s still a challenge. If you have 20 teachers, that’s still 20 different ability levels. This teacher likes Macs, this teacher likes PCs. This teacher’s all in with Microsoft servers. So you have people competing.

And then there’s so many different tools out there. Google obviously has the workspace. Apple has their tools. Microsoft Office is still a competitor. So getting everyone on the same page and kind of rowing in the same direction is one of the bigger challenges for schools. In my opinion, it’s bigger than getting equipment paid for.

FUNDS4SOLAR as a unique fundraising opportunity for schools

Michael Arnold: I see. So fundraising may not be a big problem when it comes to technology, but I know that fundraising is still a big problem when it comes to private schools. They’re always looking for other sources of income or raising revenue. And that’s what I think is beautiful about the FUNDS4SOLAR program. It’s like, yes, let’s talk about a good thing, advances in technology, but let’s also talk about how we can make it affordable for families and get a kickback for school. So unpack that side of things just a little bit.

Ernie Delgado: Well, yeah, that’s a good point. I’ve met very few schools that operate on a 100% tuition-driven budget. I mean, there’s always – it’s like 90% at best, maybe 92%, 93%. They always have to fundraise, if it’s donors – and this is where FUNDS4SOLAR came in.

During COVID, no one was doing galas, no one was doing golf tournaments, no one was doing any kind of fundraising activities, which they relied on. They need those to fill the gap in the budget. So this is where a lot of schools said, let’s try this because it’s virtual. I don’t even need to go to the house to do this. We do a lot of stuff over the phone, over a zoom meeting, virtual. The biggest challenge is just a family giving me their electric bill, and that’s how I do my analysis. So, there’s a lot of other reasons why schools are looking for fundraising opportunities, and it’s not just equipment. It’s giving teachers raises. It’s fixing their roof. It’s paying for sports.

My hat’s off to a school administrator every year. I just had this conversation the other day with the administrator down in Escondido. I mean, how do you do it? You have this budget for September but all summer, you’re hoping they’re all going to come back. But you have no guarantee that they’re going to come back and you have this budget – I get nervous for them, sometimes. It’s very nerve wracking to have to wait. So if there’s alternatives for raising a few extra dollars then I’m happy to help.

Michael Arnold: But this fundraiser is not asking kids to go out and sell wallpaper or candy or the parents to dig deeper in their pocket. It’s actually a benefit to the family; a benefit to the community. And a kickback to the school and even an opportunity for them to talk about some of our core values, which is: let’s take care of the resources that we’ve been blessed with and use them to the fullest extent. So again, a beautiful program.

Ernie Delgado: Real quick. Before you move on from that, it’s funny to try to explain that to people because when people think of fundraising, they think of: great, they’re going to ask me for more money. And that’s exactly opposite of what this is. I’m not asking and I’m not only not going to ask you for money, I’m actually going to save you money on your electric bill. You’re not paying for panels. You’re not paying for an installation. You’re just paying a lower electric bill, around 30% less.

So for some people that are paying like a $150, $250, $350 electric bill, take a third of that off. We’ll just multiply that times 12 and that’s how much I’m saving you every year.

Michael Arnold: People are looking for ways to cut their monthly expenses.

Ernie Delgado: Yeah. Tell people it’s a reverse fundraiser. If you can get your head around that, it’s a reverse fundraiser.

About NEED.org

Michael Arnold: And just to put a cherry on top, there’s also an educational component to this whole process as well. You work with NEED.org. Tell us about NEED.org and how that factors into this program.

Ernie Delgado: So one of our educational consultants that we work with out here, her name is Dr. Malia Hoffman. She’s a professor at Cal State Fullerton, and she’s our education component for FUNDS4SOLAR. If we’re going to be going to a school and talking about renewable energy, let’s teach the students. Let’s get the teachers involved.

And so we went out and we looked for the best renewable energy curriculum just to focus on this. And we looked at about four or five different options but Dr. Hoffman and I both landed on NEED.org for so many reasons. They’re based out of Washington, DC; they are funded by the Department of Energy. Their resources are quality. They have the standards for every state. They meet the standards of every state and they have that document available. And the best part of the whole thing is that most of their services are free.The lesson plans are free. You could download them off the website. There’s actually too much available there. If you go in there, you just kind of get lost.

So we’ve actually, with Dr. Hoffman’s help, created kind of a smaller version. Here’s where to start; here’s the resources that you can look at. If you want training and support, which, as I do, most teachers, if you give them something new, they want training and support. Either NEED will provide that or FUNDS4SOLAR could provide that. And the funding from that comes from the fundraiser. So again, the schools can get very powerful renewable energy curriculum. And the curriculum itself is free, but the training and support can be paid for through the fundraiser.

And we make it very inexpensive. That’s not where we’re trying to make money from. We’re just covering the cost of having a professional development training day – the person that’s going to do that. And most of the time it’s Dr. Hoffman or it could be someone from the NEED.org organization all over the country and we’re happy to find them. And so yeah, we promote what they do. And I believe they’re part of Curriculum Trak.

Michael Arnold: Yeah. I was just going to say we are linking out to their resources in our other curriculum area now under quality content resources and that’s NEED.org. National Energy Education Development, non-profit organization funded by Congress. An Act of Congress a couple of decades ago, I believe. But yeah, I’ve reviewed some of the resources and this is true for most teachers, we try to stay current, but it’s impossible to stay current in all things. Knowing an organization, that this is what they do and their resources are free, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Ernie Delgado: Yeah. But it’s interesting now that I think about it. I didn’t know that Act of Congress part, but technically we are paying for it, right? Through our taxes; we might as well take advantage of it. And Mary there at the foundation, at NEED.org, she’s wonderful. She’s very open to working with school principals and teachers and helping them generate interest. She’s a great resource as well. Part of the free part.

Michael Arnold: Yeah. So there’s resources for lesson plans, but also projects, project-based learning around these renewable energy kinds of concepts. And they’re all standards-aligned, next gen science standards and others.

Ernie Delgado: Yeah, that’s where the free part stops. And they do have these kits that are not super expensive, where students could actually create solar ovens and bake stuff, where they could actually see how wind energy works with turbine power. So there’s some amazing kits that are available.

And again, some of our schools use our fundraiser dollars to pay for that. And Michael, you probably know better than I do because you worked with so many schools, but next generation science standards, I see a lot of schools kind of apprehensive because it’s a lot of work to upgrade and modify and get into those standards.

So the fact that now you have a resource that’s already built and you could just plug it in and it requires simple training and support. It’s a way for schools to get into that a little more in a current fashion because she keeps her stuff very current over there.

School testimonies with FUNDS4SOLAR

Michael Arnold: Yeah, good stuff there. So back to FUNDS4SOLAR, a great program. I don’t know if there are any other details that you would want people to know, but I think some people like to hear stories. So tell us how this has worked. Do you have an example of a school who has embraced this and what did that look like for them?

Ernie Delgado: Yeah, we have a school. Well, we have several schools, but one of them that kind of jumps out as a school, it’s kind of here in the outskirts of Los Angeles. I’m going to say they’re not a real affluent school, so they really need some support. And we went out there and we did a Parent Night. And this was actually towards the end of COVID, I think we got in there during the dip, because it was an actual live meeting. I do remember masks on everybody but we were able to actually get out there and firsthand present this idea to them. And what was interesting about this school – I mentioned it’s not a real affluent school. It’s a very tough area where it’s at. So a lot of the families there rent; they don’t own. That came up and I said that this isn’t a problem. Again, we’re not trying to sell you anything. It’s more of a referral program if anything; how about your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers?

Anyway, I told them – this is kind of a funny thing – I told them, we want to be like the Girl Scout cookies of solar installation. Get creative, go camp out in front of them. Go camp out in front of the grocery store. These girl scout cookies have gotten really – how the way they do it now is way different than when I remember back in the day when my sister was a Girl Scout. They have websites and they email everyone and they are really trying to get the message out.

It’s not all about there’s no money involved. We’re doing it at no cost for the homeowner if they qualify. So that school was real excited about it. They’ve had some great results. One of the teachers actually asked us to come out and do his roof out in Alta Loma. It was a really neat thing to be able to impact even that level of community. The parents, I think I have a handful of them evaluated, but most of them it was just a referral, and that was kind of cool.

Michael Arnold: Yeah, that’s great. And again, something that’s tangible, that’s easy, accessible, and doesn’t cost any extra. A lot of times, when we talk about renewables or alternative forms of energy or changing our lifestyle in any way, shape or form, it gets really expensive, really fast. And so that is great.

How to get more information about FUNDS4SOLAR

Michael Arnold: Well, Ernie, thank you for your time. How can schools get more information about this program? Where do they go if they just want some more details?

Ernie Delgado: Yeah. There’s a couple of ways. They could go to our website, obviously. It’s funds4solar.com. Funds, F-U-N-D-S, the number 4, solar.com. All the information is there that you would want, some videos. But most importantly, if this is something schools are interested in, have them contact me directly: ernie@funds4solar.com. There’s also the contact information on the website and an 800 number.

Let’s have a conversation. Let’s see if this is something that might fit. I can give you a little forecast of what’s possible. And even, maybe do a Parent Night and if it’s local, I could be there. If it’s not, we can do a zoom, but at the same time, also introduce them to the NEED.org curriculum. You don’t need us to do that. It’s part of our plan, but I’m not trying to benefit from that completely. We want that to be part of a program, but if a school is looking for some powerful resources, call me and I will get you in touch with NEED and help make that happen at your school. And obviously it’s part of Curriculum Trak now so you can find it there also.

Michael Arnold: Yeah. And you work out of California, but you don’t limit yourself to just Southwest, right?

Ernie Delgado: No, we actually work in 21 states. So we have a couple of different options. Check us out. Southwest, where it’s dry, is where there’s the biggest demand. Obviously for solar work, you need sun most of the year if possible. But there’s other parts of the country where it’s still pencils out.

What I have found is that the common denominator, if you live in a community with an overzealous electric provider, they’re doing some stuff. They realize that their days are numbered as a technology. And so they’re doing everything they can to get profits out of you now. So if they’re going over the norm, your electric bills are going up. If you see your bills going up, like they are here in California, Arizona, and Nevada, then you need to reach out to us so that we can help you figure out a solution.

Michael Arnold: Well, thanks for this information. Thanks for what you’re doing to support schools in just so many ways. And thanks for sharing the information with us about this great opportunity.

About Beyond Technology

Ernie Delgado: No problem. And one last plug,

Michael Arnold: Sure. Please do.

Ernie Delgado: Since all of this really comes from Beyond Technology, the computer science curriculum that we developed through beyondk12.com, our website is some of the best on the planet. It incorporates some of this renewable energy stuff but it gets into other areas as well. And I would be remiss if I don’t talk about Beyond Technology. That’s where all this came from. That’s the mothership.

Michael Arnold: Beyond Technology, and that is a curriculum that you can import into Curriculum Trak. And we recently did another podcast with your colleague, Lauralyn, who helps with that as well, so check that out.

Ernie Delgado: And if someone wants to learn how to read their electric bill – which you need to learn how to read your electric bill, Michael – FUNDS4SOLAR, there’s a blog post that talks about, teaches you how to read your electric bill.

Michael Arnold: And we’ll try to link out to that in the show notes as well so all of these resources that we’ve mentioned, we’ll try to link to those and we’ll look forward to connecting more people.


Ernie Delgado: I’m done. I won’t say any more. I can keep on going all day,

Michael Arnold: Alright. Thanks a lot Ernie.

Ernie Delgado: Michael, thank you. Have a great day.

Ernie Delgado started as a computer teacher over thirty years ago, and he has played a supporting role for schools and their technology infrastructure since. Ernie is the co-founder of Beyond Technology Education, a resource for equipping schools and teachers to effectively use technology in their instructional efforts. He also recently founded Funds4Solar, a company that seeks to build school and community partnerships to increase solar energy production and while raising funds and providing educational resources at the same time. In this episode, Ernie outlines this program, why he is so passionate about it, and how your school could benefit from it.
Michael Arnold: As an educator, curriculum director, and the product of faith-based education myself, I make the success of every school we serve my personal mission. There’s nothing better for me than witnessing curriculum breakthroughs and instructional victories. I appreciate the opportunity to be part of that journey.