The 2020 U.S. Energy & Employment Report

Author: American Council on Renewable  Energy    Published: 7/5/2020



Black America Must Read 27,000+ More Clean Energy Jobs Lost in May

pAuthor: Acore                   Published: June 15,2020


WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Congress this week begins debating economic stimulus support for the energy industry, a new analysis of unemployment data shows the biggest part of America’s energy economy – clean energy – lost another 27,000 jobs in May, bringing the total number of clean energy workers who have lost their jobs in the past three months to more than 620,500.

While May saw an improvement in new unemployment claims over March and April, the findings represent the sector’s third straight month of significant job losses across solar, wind, energy efficiency, clean vehicles and other industries. With coronavirus cases once again rising in many states and companies beginning to run out of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funding that has helped small businesses keep workers employed, the report increases concerns the sector will be unable to resume its economy-leading jobs growth in the short- or long-term without a significant policy response.

Given the size and scope of the clean energy industry, such a sustained loss would cast a pall on the nation’s overall economic recovery, according to the analysis of the Department of Labor’s May unemployment data from E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), E4TheFuture and the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE).

Prior to COVID-19, clean energy – including energy efficiency, solar and wind generation, clean vehicles and related sectors – was among the U.S. economy’s biggest and fastest-growing employment sectors, growing 10.4% since 2015 to nearly 3.4 million jobs at the end of 2019. That made clean energy by far the biggest employer of workers in all energy occupations, employing nearly three times as many people as the fossil fuel industry. For comparison, coal mining employs about 47,000 workers.

The latest monthly analysis for the groups by BW Research Partnership runs contrary to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports, which indicated that a more robust economic rebound was underway while also acknowledging misclassifications and serious reporting difficulties in its own data.

Bob Keefe, Executive Director at E2, said:

“May’s almost 30,000 clean energy jobs loss is sadly an improvement in the rate of jobs shed but make no mistake: There remains huge uncertainty and volatility ahead. It will be very tough for clean energy to make up these continuing job losses without support from Congress. Lawmakers must act now. If they do, we can get hundreds of thousands of these workers back on the job today and build a better, cleaner, more equitable economy for tomorrow. And who doesn’t want that?”

Pat Stanton, Policy Director at E4TheFuture, said:

“Most of the time, energy efficiency workers need to go inside homes, businesses and other buildings to get the job done. Since they couldn’t do that during COVID lockdowns, they couldn’t work. Now states are opening up. But utilities, contractors and building owners need to protect employees and occupants from possible exposure to the virus and need more clarity about potential liabilities.”

Gregory Wetstone, President and CEO of ACORE, said:

“In May, we saw thousands of additional renewable energy workers join the ranks of the unemployed, further underscoring the damage COVID-19 is inflicting on our workforce. Since the pandemic began, nearly 100,000 renewable energy workers have lost their jobs. We need help from Congress to get American clean energy workers back to work. With commonsense measures like temporary refundability and a delay in the phasedown of renewable energy tax credits, Congress can help restore these good-paying jobs so the renewable sector can continue to provide the affordable, pollution-free power American consumers and businesses want and deserve.”

Phil Jordan, Vice President and Principal at BW Research Partnership, said:

“We understand the challenges and limitations of data collection for BLS in the middle of a global pandemic. But any suggestion that a strong employment rebound is underway in the United States simply is not reflected in the clean energy sector right now. And with PPP expiring, that only increases uncertainty in the months ahead.”

The report comes as both the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the House Energy and Commerce Committee are considering clean energy stimulus to restart the U.S. economy, and as lawmakers in both the House and Senate are increasing calls for supporting clean energy workers and businesses, including this bicameral letter signed by 57 members of Congress and another signed today by 180 House members.

Industries Hit Hardest

According to the analysis, energy efficiency lost more jobs than any other clean energy sector for the third consecutive month in May, shedding about 18,900 jobs. These workers include electricians, HVAC technicians who work with high-efficiency systems, and manufacturing employees who make Energy Star appliances, LED lighting systems and efficient building materials.

Renewable energy, including solar and wind, lost nearly 4,300 jobs in May.

Clean grid and storage and clean vehicles manufacturing — including grid modernization, energy storage, car charging and electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle manufacturing — lost a combined 3,200 jobs in May.

The clean fuels sector lost more than 650 jobs in May.


Sector March Claims (adj) April Claims (adj) May Claims Total
Energy Efficiency 103,298 309,584 18,880 431,762
Renewables 23,739 71,705 4,272 99,717
Clean Vehicles 11,399 35,070 2,059 48,528
Grid & Storage 6,517 19,666 1,166 27,349
Clean Fuels 2,186 10,390 657 13,233
INDUSTRY TOTAL 147,139 446,416 27,035 620,590


States and Localities Hit Across Country

California continues to be the hardest hit state in terms of total job losses, losing 4,313 jobs in May and more than 109,700 since the COVID-19 crisis began. Florida was the second hardest hit state in May, losing an additional 2,563 clean energy jobs, while Georgia, Texas, Washington, and Michigan all suffered more than 1,000 job losses across the sector. An additional 12 states saw at least 500 clean energy unemployment filings, according to the latest analysis.

For a full breakdown of clean energy job losses in each state, along with a list of the hardest hit counties and metro areas, see the full analysis here.


State March Claims (adj) April Claims (adj) May Claims Total Claims 
US TOTAL 147,139 446,416 27,035 620,590
California 27,583 77,815 4,313 109,712
Texas 5,965 25,170 1,709 32,844
Florida 3,963 25,949 2,563 32,475
Michigan 7,867 22,245 1,012 31,124
Georgia 1,909 25,282 1,741 28,932
North Carolina 9,124 17,138 955 27,217
Pennsylvania 8,283 12,780 571 21,634
Washington 5,646 14,433 1,163 21,242
New York 6,006 13,868 848 20,722
Ohio 6,929 12,879 612 20,420




The analysis expands on data from the 2020 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) produced by the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) in partnership with the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), using data collected and analyzed by the BW Research Partnership. The report was released in March 2020 and is available at E2 and E4TheFuture are partners on the annual USEER, the fifth installment of the energy survey first released by the Department of Energy in 2016 and subsequently abandoned under the Trump administration. 


Previous E2, E4TheFuture, ACORE Clean Energy Unemployment Reports


For policy recommendations from E2 on building America’s economy back better and faster through clean energy visit E2’s Build Back Better homepage.




Founded in 2001, the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is the nation’s premier pan-renewable organization uniting finance, policy and technology to accelerate the transition to a renewable energy economy. For more information, please visit


Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) is a national, nonpartisan group of business leaders, investors, and professionals from every sector of the economy who advocate for smart policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment. Our members have founded or funded more than 2,500 companies, created more than 600,000 jobs, and manage more than $100 billion in venture and private equity capital. For more information, see or follow us on Twitter at @e2org.


E4TheFuture works for clean, efficient and safe energy solutions. A nonprofit organization, we promote energy efficiency, renewables, demand management, energy storage and electric vehicles to advance climate protection and economic fairness. We work to achieve an energy economy that is sustainable, lower cost, and resilient. Our “Faces of EE” initiative shines a light on energy efficiency professionals nationwide. Visit or follow us on Twitter at @E4TheFuture and @FacesofEE.


Media Contacts:

Alex Hobson — (202) 594-0706,

Michael Timberlake — (202) 289-2407,

Alex Frank — (703) 276-3264,

Carina Daniels — (510) 847-1617,

How this 23-year-old CEO turned her dorm room side hustle into a business bringing in $1 million

Author: Akilah Releford          Published: July 2, 2020      Make It Black

Akilah Releford is the founder and CEO of Mary Louise Cosmetics.

Akilah Releford is the founder and CEO of Mary Louise Cosmetics.
Courtesy Akilah Releford

My journey as a beauty entrepreneur started in my dorm room at Howard University. When I began college, my plan was to follow in my father’s footsteps and become a surgeon. But I soon discovered I wasn’t as excited about working on organic chemistry homework as I was about mixing up organic DIY skin-care recipes and sharing my creations with my floor mates.

One night in the fall of my junior year, I made a Twitter thread about my favorite beauty hacks and tips. I didn’t think anything of it, but when I woke up the next morning, it had gotten over 30,000 retweets. I had hundreds of direct messages from girls asking me about which products they could make at home.

That’s when I realized that my love of makeup wasn’t just a hobby — I could turn it into a business. Today, my vegan, organic, and cruelty-free skin care company, Mary Louise, is on track to generate $1 million dollars this year.

Like many companies, we were prompted to reevaluate our business model by the effects of Covid-19. We closed our Los Angeles retail location until further notice, for example. But we have successfully been able to pivot. In addition to our collections of serums, body butters and masks, we launched an affordable hand sanitizer and accompanying moisturizing soap, and we have seen our online sales dramatically increase.

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My experience turning my side hustle into a fully fledged brand has helped me steer my company during this moment of uncertainty. If you’re looking to start a business right now, here are some of the lessons I have learned that still help me today.

High quality doesn’t have to mean expensive

From the start, I knew that I wanted to create high-quality products at an accessible price point, since my customer base at the time was made up of mostly college students. The first two products I sold at school were a $30 Miracle Serum and a $32 Mississippi Mud Mask. The ingredients were high-quality but easy to source, which kept my cost down, and made them more affordable for my peers. We still sell them today.

I used $600 I saved from my part-time retail job at Zara to buy my first batch of inventory and a domain name. In the very beginning, I worked with what I had. I taught myself how to create Facebook ads and Google shopping ads to start to reach new customers, and made a concerted effort not to go outside my budget.

I watched my personal spending carefully and cut back on things like girls’ trips and lunches out with my friends. But I was more than OK with sacrificing a few things if it meant that I could use those resources to help Mary Louise grow.

My website went live December of 2016 over winter break and I announced the launch on Twitter. We soon had a slow, but steady stream of sales coming in. In December and January, the company generated between $20,000 and $30,000 a month from those online sales.

I was thrilled, but I was still so preoccupied with school obligations that I actually decided to turn the website off during February and March of 2017.

In April, another round of exams came to an end, and I finally had more time to focus on the brand. So I turned the website back on and hoped that my customers would still be there. A week after I restarted the business, I received more orders in a single day than I got in that first two months months combined. It was as if those initial customers had been waiting to buy from us again, and they brought all of their friends with them.

Your collaborators may be closer than you think

I decided to name my company Mary Louise after my maternal and paternal grandmothers. Growing up, I was so inspired watching them use their own homemade remedies and natural recipes in their beauty and wellness routines. And fittingly, Mary Louise has been something of a family business since the beginning.

At first, in the dorm, I made micro-batches of products, 30 to 50 at a time. There really wasn’t much room to spread out to mass produce, so I worked with what I had. I ordered the raw materials online from organic/all-natural certified retailers who carried the specific oils and clays that I needed.

But that spring, it quickly became clear that I just didn’t have room for all of the inventory and packing materials I needed to fill all the orders. No one I knew had a car and lugging bags and boxes to the post office on the DC Metro didn’t seem like a sustainable plan. So my dad essentially volunteered to be my unofficial co-founder and temporary fulfillment center.

I realized that my love of makeup wasn’t just a hobby — I could turn it into a business.
Akilah Releford

For several weeks, while I finished up my spring semester, 3,000 miles away in Los Angeles, he used our home and his office to manufacture mud masks, serums, and cleanser. He cleaned and sterilized the containers and even labeled them by hand. Then he would organize the orders and have them ready to ship, dropping off about 100 orders a week to the post office.

To manufacture, label, and package a 100 orders in the same day would take maybe three to four hours, if you’re doing it by yourself. So my mom and little sister were always close by and helping out as well.

I’m so grateful that my family has always been so supportive of my entrepreneurial journey, so much so that they suggested that summer that I take a semester off to see how I could grow Mary Louise. They even helped me establish my LLC.

A semester turned into two years, and I’ve never looked back.

Building a community will see you through tough times

When I started Mary Louise, I had 1,000 Twitter followers. Today, the company has nearly 12,000 on Instagram. From the beginning, I had an audience on social media that I was able to grow organically by interacting with them and posting DIY skincare tips that anyone could use. It was a low-cost but effective way to build a loyal customer base.

When I introduced a product, I knew I would already have thousands of potentially interested buyers. And creating the space for an authentic audience to flourish is something I try my best to do today.

Building a solid community around you and your brand is invaluable. They will root for you, especially when you have to pivot.

Building a solid community around you and your brand is invaluable. They will root for you, especially when you have to pivot.
Akilah Releford

When Covid-19 first started affecting business across the country, I immediately thought about ways we could adapt. We wanted to launch a new, affordable product with the resources we already had in stock, that could help our community at the same time. Thanks to a suggestion from my surgeon dad, we quickly launched a hand sanitizer spray formulated from one of our aftershave products, which has a heavy alcohol base.

We made a 2-ounce hand sanitizer spray and gel that retails for $6. And our customers have stuck with us, and continued to tell their friends.

To date, we’ve sold around 1,000 units online and 2,000 units in our retail space, before all nonessential businesses closed. We also developed essential oil hand and body soaps to go with our hand sanitizers to help our customers to keep their hands clean and moisturized at the same time. We have donated proceeds from each unit sold to several Covid-19 relief funds.

And despite all the uncertainty, we are still on track to generate $1 million in revenue this year.

This moment has taught me a lot. As an entrepreneur, you try to plan out ahead as much as possible, but the reality is this: You never know what the next day will bring. But creating a loyal community and trying your best to be as resilient as possible during times of adversity can put you ahead of the curve.

Akilah Releford is an entrepreneur, skin-care enthusiast, and founder of Mary Louise Cosmetics, a clean beauty brand that BuzzFeed has voted #1 in “21 Life-Changing Beauty Products You Should Try in 2019.”

The article “23-year-old CEO: How I Made a Dorm Room Side Hustle Into a Business Bringing in $1 Million” originally published on Grow + Acorns.

Broad Energy Industry Coalition Encourages PJM to Continue to Examine Carbon Pricing in its Electricity Market

Author: Monique Hanis   Published: 6/30/2020          AEE

Screen Shot 2020-06-30 at 10.02.42 AM-1

June 30, 2020 Washington D.C. – As U.S. policymakers look for cost-effective ways to tackle climate change, a diverse coalition of power generators, trade associations, and think tanks last week sent a letter encouraging PJM to continue its examination of the policy options and implications of carbon pricing in its market. The request comes at a time when many states in PJM either have, or are considering, policies that reduce carbon emissions in the electric sector and are grappling with how best to reconcile those policies with wholesale markets.

As states consider policy levers to reduce carbonemissions and integrate cleaner power generation technology, carbon pricing can be a powerful, efficient, and cost-effective tool to drive down emissions and help achieve state goals, while preserving the economic benefits of competitive wholesale electricity markets.

The request does not recommend that PJM integrate a carbon price into its market at this time, or the specific method by which it could do so in the future. Rather, in light of the continued and heightened focus by states in the PJM market on reducing carbon emissions from power generation, the letter emphasizes the importance of PJM continuing its efforts to consider integrating carbon pricing in its market and exploring the practical, technical, and implementation issues related to how PJM’s markets can potentially account for state policy through carbon pricing.

The letter’s full list of signatories: Advanced Energy EconomyAmerican Council on Renewable EnergyAmerican Wind Energy AssociationApex Clean EnergyAztec SolarBayWa r.e. Solar ProjectsClearway Energy Group,  Competitive Power VenturesCypress Creek RenewablesDelaware Division of the Public AdvocateEastern Generation, EcoplexusEDF RenewablesEDP Renewables North AmericaEnel North AmericaENGIE North AmericaFirst SolarInvenergyLightsource BPNatural Gas Supply AssociationOrsted North AmericaPine Gate RenewablesRecurrent EnergyR Street InstituteRWE Renewables AmericasSkyline RenewablesSolar Energy Industries AssociationSouthern Current, and Vistra Energy.


DC Budget Update: Affordable Housing and Homelessness


The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless

We are happy to see that the DC Council made some new investments in affordable housing programs in the first stage of budget decisions last week. But the DC Council needs to do so much more to get us to a #JustRecoveryDC. DC had a preexisting affordable housing crisis that is about to get much worse as a result of the global pandemic and economic recession. Many experts estimate that homelessness will increase 40-45% nationwide. A lack of safe housing and shelter combined with longstanding disparities have resulted in people experiencing homelessness being most impacted by COVID-19: 315 positive cases and 20 dead in DC.

Nearly 9/10 people experiencing homelessness in DC are Black. We urge the Council to prevent harm from occurring to Black people, not just mourn it after harm occurs. That includes preventing homelessness, ending homelessness, investing in deeply affordable permanent housing, and diverting money from programs that hurt Black DC residents. Read our statement on systemic racism and white supremacy here.

Check out the status of the Legal Clinic’s highest priority asks for the FY 2021 budget below. (Further background on our budget asks can be found here.)

Place People in Hotels, Dorms and Housing to Prevent COVID-19 Transmission

Ask: Fully fund a requirement that DC offer each person experiencing homelessness a noncongregate placement until a vaccine is widely available or the pandemic is over #WhatHomeDC

Status: No progress.

Eviction Prevention

Ask: Increase the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) by at least $12 million (M) and develop an expanded eviction prevention program (#CancelTheRent).

Status: DC Council restored Mayor’s $1.115M cut plus added $150,000.

Remaining need: At least $12M for ERAP.

End Family Homelessness

The Mayor only added 54 affordable housing slots for families in Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH). This means that only 2% of Rapid Re-housing (RRH) families would have a longterm subsidy to exit to. The rest are likely to cycle back into homelessness. The Department of Human Services (DHS) is starting up RRH time limit terminations in July.

Ask: 1) Require a moratorium on RRH time limit terminations in FY20 and 21 to allow families to have a shot at getting employment and recovering from the public health emergency.

2) Add $17.39M to Targeted Affordable Housing (TAH) vouchers for 712 families.

3) Add $10.42M for 500 LRSP tenant vouchers.

Status: No progress.

End Chronic Homelessness

The Mayor only funded PSH for 96 individuals and 54 families who are chronically homeless.

Ask: Fund PSH for 1404 individuals and 248 families.

Status: The Council has increased PSH for 50 individuals. No progress on families.

Remaining need: PSH for 1354 individuals, 248 families.

Invest in Re-entry Housing Pilot

Ask: $1.8M per year for a Re-entry Housing Pilot, including services, for 50 people.

Status: $1M funded

Remaining need: $800,000.

Build Deeply Affordable Housing

Ask: 1) $130M in Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF) for households making 0-30% Area Median Income (AMI).

2) $24M in project/sponsor-based Local Rent Supplement Program (LRSP).

3) Better target the property tax abatement to the creation of affordable housing available to people with incomes below 50% of AMI.

Status: Committee added $9M to HPTF, meaning $4.5M for 0-30% AMI housing.

Remaining need: $125.5M for HPTF, $24M for project/sponsor based LRSP.

Repair Public Housing

The Mayor put $25M into FY21 and $15M into FY22 for public housing repairs.

Ask: 1) $60M/year

2) Include protections from the Public Housing Preservation and Tenant Protection Amendment Act of 2020 in the Budget Support Act.

Status: The Council added $376,000 to the public housing repairs fund.

Remaining need: $34.6M in FY21, $45M in FY22, and $60M in subsequent fiscal years.


To fund these critical needs, the Legal Clinic supports:

  1. Decreasing the police budget;
  2. Diverting money from Rapid Re-housing to permanent housing for families;
  3. Diverting $127M from the Streetcar to public housing repairs;
  4. Diverting $5.4M in Streetcar PayGo funds to ERAP;
  5. Diverting future years of the K Street Transit Project to public housing repairs;
  6. Increasing taxes on the wealthy;
  7. Closing tax loopholes; and
  8. Reforming DC’s tax code to both raise revenue and further economic and racial justice. (See here for more details.)

We cannot understate the amount of work the Council has to do before its first vote on this budget next week. As the budget stands right now, it doesn’t even meet the needs for a “normal” year. However, this year certainly isn’t normal for DC residents. It’s much worse. We hope that Councilmembers follow Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie’s lead and refuse to support an unjust budget: “If, after these protests subside, we don’t see meaningful change w/ actual policies that go along w/ funding & commitments, then it’s not real justice & I won’t be prepared to support it.”

What can you do?

  1. Contact your Councilmembers before Tuesday, July 7 (the first vote), and ask them to make sure that these programs are fully funded.
  2. Don’t forget to contact Chairman Mendelson (, whose voice carries significant weight in these decisions.
  3. Join us on Monday, July 6th, for a Black Homes Matter rally that the Legal Clinic is co-hosting from 3-6PM on Freedom Plaza.

Search Results Web results The 2% Solution: Inside Billionaire Robert Smith’s Bold Plan

Author: Nathan Vardi    Published: 6/30/2020        Forbes

The 2% Solution: Inside Billionaire Robert Smith’s Bold Plan To Funnel Billions To America’s Black-Owned Businesses

The nation’s wealthiest Black investor says the best way to begin to reverse Corporate America’s history of structural racism is for big banks and large companies to spend the next ten years investing directly in banking, telecom, technology, education and healthcare infrastructure to benefit the Black community.

Robert F. Smith, the private equity billionaire who is the nation’s richest Black person, said on Thursday that large corporations should use 2% of their annual net income for the next decade to empower minority communities. Smith made the comments after circulating a plan among CEOs that first calls on big banks to capitalize the financial institutions that service Black-owned businesses and minority-run entrepreneurial ventures.

In a keynote address he gave at the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, Smith, 57, said Black and minority communities have been abandoned by large banks and are starved of the capital needed to build businesses and local institutions. Smith argued that pumping in what he described as “reparative” capital and investing directly in financial architecture would be a fast way to advance economic justice for Black Americans.

“Nowhere is structural racism more apparent than in corporate America,” Smith said. “If you think about structural racism and access to capital, 70% of African American communities don’t even have a branch, bank of any type.”

In recent days, Smith, whose net worth is estimated to be $5 billion, has been sharing a concrete plan with the nation’s business leaders that argues that an investment equal to 2% of net income over the next decade would be a small step toward restoring equity and mobility in America. He has implied that America’s big corporations should feel compelled to support such a plan given the exclusionary practices of many industries over several decades. Smith made the case that the average American household charitably donates 2% of its income annually and is asking corporate America to do the same.

During the pandemic, Smith discovered the structural racism in banking firsthand as he tried to help Black businesses and banks that serve Black communities obtain Paycheck Protection Program loans. Smith found that Black-owned businesses faced numerous structural obstacles and as a result had trouble accessing the emergency financing being provided by the federal government through the banking sector.

“Nowhere is structural racism more apparent than in corporate America,” Smith said. “If you think about structural racism and access to capital, 70% of African American communities don’t even have a branch, bank of any type.”

In recent days, Smith, whose net worth is estimated to be $5 billion, has been sharing a concrete plan with the nation’s business leaders that argues that an investment equal to 2% of net income over the next decade would be a small step toward restoring equity and mobility in America. He has implied that America’s big corporations should feel compelled to support such a plan given the exclusionary practices of many industries over several decades. Smith made the case that the average American household charitably donates 2% of its income annually and is asking corporate America to do the same.

During the pandemic, Smith discovered the structural racism in banking firsthand as he tried to help Black businesses and banks that serve Black communities obtain Paycheck Protection Program loans. Smith found that Black-owned businesses faced numerous structural obstacles and as a result had trouble accessing the emergency financing being provided by the federal government through the banking sector.

Smith thinks the federal government could supercharge the effort by leveraging up the provided capital with the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility the Federal Reserve established to support consumer and business credit during the pandemic.

“The deprivation of capital is one of the areas that creates a major problem to the enablement of the African American community,” Smith told the more than 200 top philanthropists who attended the 9th annual Forbes philanthropy summit, which this year was held on Zoom. “The first thing to do is put capital into those branch banks to lend to these small businesses to actually create an opportunity set . . . drive it into these small businesses, which employs 60%-plus of African Americans.”

Smith envisions the nation’s banking sector could provide billions of dollars of capital to Black-owned banks and community development banks, with some of the funds used to digitize these lenders.

In a way, Smith is proposing a private sector solution to reparations, the idea that the federal government pay financial compensation to Black Americans who are the descendants of slaves. Smith believes Black communities have experienced systemic inequality and exclusion in corporate sectors beyond finance, including healthcare, telecommunications and technology. The net income of the biggest U.S. companies in just those sectors was $1.3 trillion combined over the last decade and 2% of those profits, or some $25 billion, could be used to do things like strengthen healthcare infrastructure in minority communities, equalize broadband access, fund STEM education at historically Black colleges and digitize minority small businesses.

Through his plan, Smith envisions the nation’s banking sector could, over the next ten years, provide billions of dollars of capital to Black-owned banks and community development banks, with some of the funds used to digitize these lenders. His plan calls for the telecom and tech sectors to provide money to help prepare 180,000 students at America’s historically Black colleges for the jobs of the future, and to digitize one million minority small businesses.

Smith, who has an engineering degree from Cornell University, is the founder of Vista Equity Partners, the nation’s biggest private equity firm specializing in software transactions. Part of Vista’s stunning success has been built on Smith’s detailed and secret playbook for running software companies, which has helped Vista achieve some of the private equity industry’s best financial returns.

Now, Smith believes his playbook for economic justice could not only ensure Black Americans have better access to opportunity, but also increase the nation’s economic activity by more than $1 trillion annually.

“I think that will show Americans there is hope, there is an opportunity for the American dream to now be revitalized,” Smith said on Thursday. “And frankly, to give us all confidence that we can actually make this a better country and a better place to live.”


Amazon Launches US$2 Billion Climate Pledge Fund Amid Reputation Crisis

Authyor: Sally Ho         Published: 6/29/2020         Green Queen

Amazon has just announced a US$2 billion for a new Climate Pledge Fund dedicated to sustainable technologies and services that will help the e-commerce giant achieve net-zero carbon emissions in its operations by 2040. It comes on the heels of its CEO Jeff Bezos’ Earth Fund, which did little to allay widespread criticism over the company’s questionable commitments to sustainability. The tech firm has also been facing another reputation crisis due to its lack of workers’ protections during the coronavirus pandemic.

Online retail and tech giant Amazon announced a US$2 billion investment in a new Climate Pledge Fund, which aims to foster environmentally-friendly technologies that will enable the firm to reach carbon-neutral status by 2040. The fund will be led by Matt Peterson on Amazon’s corporate development team and Kara Hurst, the firm’s sustainability chief.

The Seattle-headquartered company said the investment will “back visionary companies whose products and services will facilitate the transition to a zero-carbon economy”.

The Climate Pledge was created by Amazon last year in partnership with London-based impact enterprise Global Optimism. Other companies that have signed onto the pledge include Indian tech consultancy Infosys and U.S. telecom behemoth Verizon.

In the announcement, founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said that the fund will be accepting applications for grants from all types of companies across different industries, including transportation, logistics, energy, circular economy and food tech.

“Each prospective investment will be judged on its potential to accelerate the path to zero carbon and help protect the planet for future generations,” said Bezos in a statement.

While a sizable sustainability pledge, Amazon has long been criticised for its significant role in driving the climate crisis, from partnering with some of the world’s largest polluters such as dirty energy firm ExxonMobil via its Amazon Web Services arm to fuelling one-click overconsumption and convenience culture.

In an attempt to alleviate some of the pressure the company has faced regarding its tainted climate record, Bezos announced earlier this year that he would commit US$10 billion of his personal wealth to an Earth Fund – representing a fraction of his enormous US$130 billion net worth at the time (which has ballooned to US$145 billion since the pandemic).

But his personal pledge, as well as Amazon’s most recent US$2 billion sustainable investment, still falls short to make up for its anti-climate reputation – particularly after the company had terminated employees for speaking out against the company’s lucrative dealings with fossil fuel firms and irresponsible environmental behaviour.

To add to the history of questionable commitments to environmental protection, the wasteful operations of Amazon’s e-commerce retail arm is hardly evidence of championing sustainability.

Amazon’s reputation over the past few weeks has been further shrouded due to claims over poor working conditions, lack of hazardous pay and inadequate protections for its warehouse workers during the pandemic, despite the fact that Bezos’ personal fortune has benefited immensely since the  boost in online sales from consumers on lockdown.

The firm’s failed internal response for its frontline workers made headlines in May, when Tim Bray, an engineer and vice-president at Amazon’s Web Services arm, made a high-profile exit from the company. In his post explaining his resignation, Bray called the firings of activist organisers at the company “chickenshit”, and said that Amazon’s decisions were “designed to create a climate of fear”.

Law Enforcement’s Ill-Gotten Gain: Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws v. Cannabis

Author:  Kacey Morrissey    Published: 6/29/2020    New Frontier Data

By Kacey Morrissey, Senior Director of Industry Analytics, New Frontier Data

Civil Forfeiture Overview

Civil forfeiture laws allow police to seize property—cash, cars, and houses, guns, and other assets—suspected of being connected to criminal activity independently of whether criminal charges are ever filed. While the original intent of civil asset forfeiture was to disrupt large-scale organized drug trafficking and fight the “War on Drugs”, overwhelming evidence shows that the programs exercised at the state and local levels offer too few protections for innocent property owners while simultaneously offering perverse profit incentives for police and prosecutors.

Additionally, many states do not require reporting on key details, such as whether any criminal charges were ever filed in relation to the seizure of cash or property, or what type of criminal activity was alleged  (e.g., cannabis), and if a state has no requirements to aggregate those reports or publish them online, there is very little incentive to be honest and transparent about either the circumstances under which the money and property were seized, or the ways how assets were allocated and spent.

Burdon of Proof

People having the financial means to go to court to fight for forfeited assets often face another major obstacle: low standard of proof required to seize property under most civil forfeiture laws. Under civil asset forfeiture, the property itself is charged with the crime, not the person, and unlike when a person is prosecuted for a crime, the property is effectively seen as guilty until proven innocent, with the burden of proof falling on the property owner.

Thirty-one states and the federal government set “preponderance of the evidence” as the standard of proof for all civil forfeitures, making it the most common standard nationally. (A preponderance of the evidence standard means that property is more likely than not connected to a crime. It is often thought of as a 51% standard, meaning that the evidence must be a bit more than 50–50 (or slightly better than a coin flip)in favor of the government, a much lower hurdle than proof beyond a reasonable doubt.)

Massachusetts and North Dakota set a lower standard still, requiring only probable cause for civil forfeiture. Probable cause is the same low evidentiary standard that police must meet in order to make an arrest, carry out a search, or seize the property or cash in question in the first place.

Perverse Incentives

One of the incentives for program abuse lies in the absence of restrictions on spending of seized funds, with 35 states allowing law enforcement to keep over 75% of total forfeited proceeds (26 states allow law enforcement to keep 100% of the cash and property they seize). Only seven states and the District of Columbia block law enforcement from access to forfeited proceeds.

Picking on Cannabis

Drug-related crimes make up most crimes cited for seizures, and marijuana is the most commonly cited individual drug.

Despite the overwhelming lack of transparency about details of civil asset forfeiture programs across many states, there have been some small pockets of visibility though public records requests in states that are required to keep information about the cash and assets they are seizing.  For example, in Contra Costa, Calif., a series of public records requests to the district attorney’s office revealed cash seizures totaling $1.3 million in cases where drug-related criminal charges were filed, and $529,000 in cases where a charging decision had not been made. About $1.1 million of the seizures came from cases where the district attorney’s office decided not to file criminal charges, yet still took action to keep the cash – of that $1.1 million, nearly half came from marijuana alone. Despite marijuana being the singular drug for which the largest amount of cash was seized, just 29% of the money was tied to actual charges being filed.

Source: Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office

Federal Equitable Sharing Program as Loophole for Seizing Cannabis Assets

State civil forfeiture laws vary in terms of their incentives, but state and local law enforcement agencies have a loophole of receiving the assets through the federal government’s Equitable Sharing Program, under which state and local police agencies can collaborate with federal agencies to seize assets from individuals and then transfer those seizures to federal control. In doing so, local agencies can bypass some state-level regulations limiting forfeitures, and still receive 80% back from the federal program. The method has been sharply criticized for circumventing state laws, specifically those states requiring seized assets to go into a state’s general fund.

The federal Equitable Sharing Program is a tool that is being specifically used to seize assets related to cannabis both in states where it is illegal and in states which have legalized and regulated its use and sale. Once that cash or property is taken under the program, federal (and not state) forfeiture law applies—even if state law prohibits or limits law enforcement access to forfeiture funds. Such an instance occurred in California, where cannabis is legal. Not only does federal law allow forfeiture proceeds to be spent by law enforcement, but equitable sharing rules indeed mandate that funds go to law enforcement. It is for that reason that agencies in states with stricter or less generous civil forfeiture laws participate more heavily in equitable sharing. Given relatively restrictive civil forfeiture laws in places like D.C. and California, the high dollar amounts flowing through the federal sharing program help underscore the circumvention risks which the entire practice poses, specifically to the evolving cannabis industry.

The DOJ Asset Forfeiture Program

Source: The United States DOJ Asset Forfeiture Management Staff
Note: The Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program encompasses the seizure and forfeiture of assets representing either the proceeds from, or which were used to facilitate, federal crimes. The program’s primary sources of revenue are from cash, financial instruments, and proceeds from the sale of property forfeited by criminals and criminal organizations; the DOJ AFF’s share of forfeitures deposited into the Treasury Forfeiture Fund; and interest earned on the investment of the balances of the AFF and the Seized Asset Deposit Fund.

In D.C. (where law enforcement cannot keep any funds or property which they seize) over $240 million in assets were seized and forfeited to the federal program in 2019, which under the equitable sharing program allows for up to 80% to be sent back to law enforcement agencies.

According to DOJ Asset Forfeiture Management Staff, of the cash and vehicle assets adopted since July 2017, nearly 80% was seized in relation to illegal drugs/contraband.

If the ratios of drug types seen in local municipalities like Contra Costa hold true at the level of the federal asset forfeiture deposits, it means that roughly $661 million would have been collected by the federal government’s asset forfeiture program from seizures related to marijuana in FY 2019.

2019 FY

Total Deposits Federal Asset Forfeiture Fund: $2.1 billion

Total Estimated From Illegal Drugs and Contraband: $1.6 billion

Note: these figures do not represent the total value of cash and property seized in the U.S., as most law enforcement agencies can keep what they seize, and do not conduct all activity in conjunction with federal agencies in order to take part in the Equitable Sharing Program. These values represent only what was forfeited at the federal level.

Major Reforms Are Still Needed

Amidst the robust national debate currently being had about reforms to policing in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody last month, state and federal lawmakers are weighing a range of options to make policing more equitable, including eliminating incentives for police malpractice.

Given the significant number of people whose property is being seized under civil asset forfeiture programs but who are never charged — and particularly since cannabis has been a major driver for the forfeitures at a time when public support for legalization is at an all-time high — reforming civil asset forfeiture laws and ensuring that those whose property has been seized have proper recourse to recover their assets should be key components. Further, having police department budgets funded by property seized from the public creates perverse incentives for law enforcement agencies in budget-constrained communities to be more aggressive in the practice in order to offset budget cuts. At a minimum, having any seized assets allocated toward community programs (or other general fund allocations outside of law enforcement) can eliminate the expectation that police pay hinges on how many assets that officers seize. Additionally, the federal Equitable Sharing Program should be reformed to eliminate the bypassing of such state level restrictions on spending. Barring such changes, the civil asset forfeiture will continue to present significant opportunities for abuses of police power.











Show that Black lives matterby funding Maryland’s HBCUs

Author: By Michael D. Jones, David Burton and Earl Richardson  Published: 6/29 20202 Baltimore Sun

Speaker of the House Adrienne Jones addressed the crowd in Annapolis this year at a rally in support of court-ordered funding of historically Black colleges and universities. (Joshua McKerrow/Capital Gazette )

Cascading demands for racial justice and equal rights unleashed by the murder of George Floyd led Maryland’s Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford to assert, in a June 3, Washington Post article, that America has reached “a turning point” in addressing racism and inequality in all American institutions.

In his own state, this must include vindicating the constitutional rights of students at the state’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that suffer academic disparities described by Judge Catherine C. Blake as “worse than Mississippi of the 1970s.”

For the past 14 years, HBCU students, faculty and alumni have marched, protested and litigated for justice and equality. Six years ago, Judge Blake ruled against the state, noting that “Maryland had a shameful history of de jure segregation throughout much of the past century. Public higher education opportunities for African Americans were either non-existent or decidedly inferior to the opportunities afforded to white citizens.”

Indeed, the state’s own documents show that it deliberately set up its four Black schools to be “inferior in every aspect of their operation.” And as the court noted, Maryland’s own reports show that “the contrast between the amounts of money received by the two racial groups would show, if possible of computation, an enormous differential in favor of the white race.”

Three years ago, Judge Blake ordered the state to provide additional funding for expanded academic programs, scholarships, marketing and financial aid. But the governor failed to fund the court’s remedial order, and students, faculty and alumni continued to march, protest and litigate. Judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals encouraged the legislature to resolve the case.

And they stepped in. Under the leadership of the state’s first African American Speaker, Adrienne Jones, the legislature overwhelmingly passed an HBCU Equity Bill (129-2 in the House 47-0 in the Senate) that would have appropriated out of the state’s $47.9 billion budget, $57.7 million a year for ten years.

Legislators expressed hope that the governor would see the connection between racial disparities in the state and weak support for HBCUs. Said Senate Sponsor Charles Sydnor: “Our HBCU bill will provide critical resources to our HBCU pre-med programs, as well as Morgan’s public health program, Coppin’s and Bowie’s nursing programs and the pharmacy and other health-related fields at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. All of these academic programs are critically important to addressing the underlying health disparities laid bare by the COVID-19 crisis.”

Similarly, legislators recognized that properly funded Black colleges can help address the wealth and income disparities in Maryland by spurring economic development in the communities in which they are located, since, as a United Negro College Fund report notes, every dollar in initial spending by Maryland’s HBCUs generates $1.52 in initial and successive spending in their communities.

But despite the court order and legislative support, Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the HBCU Equity Bill, even while allowing millions to expand thoroughbred racing. A spokesman for the racing industry proclaimed: “This is truly a defining moment in the history of the Maryland thoroughbred racing industry and the state.” Maybe.

The real “defining moment” is the quest for justice and equality for Black people and Black institutions. Even before the murder of George Floyd and the quest for racial justice was unleashed, the Maryland legislature recognized that funding the court ordered remedy would remove the stain of being “worse than Mississippi”, help address racial health and wealth disparities in the state and promote economic development in Black communities — a true win-win.

An economic downturn that disproportionately hurts Black communities is precisely the time to help Black colleges out of the hole the state dug. Instead, the governor cut the lifeline extended by the legislators. Even Mississippi recognized that economic downturns are no excuse for ducking constitutional responsibilities. It began its larger HBCU settlement payments during the 2001 recession, and continued them during the Great Recession of 2008-09.

The legislature should continue to stay on the right side of history by overriding the governor’s veto. The time for lip service is past. And 14 years of marching, protesting and litigating is enough. It is time to provide justice for Maryland’s HBCUs, to show that: #BlackLivesMatter.

Michael D. Jones ( is partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP and executivecommittee member of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; David Burton ( is president for the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education; Earl Richardson ( president emeritus and distinguished professor and research associate at Morgan State University.

How to Support Black-Owned Small Businesses

Author: Sarah Davis         Published: 6/28/2020          Finimpact


#Black Lives Matter: How to Support Black-Owned Small Businesses & Resources

Black Lives Matter is affecting the world in a profound way, bringing the plight of African Americans into the limelight. Its effects are far-reaching, and it is occurring in tandem with the COVID-19 pandemic to make it even more difficult to run a successful business. 

Below, we will outline the implications and demonstrate how to help Black-owned businesses out amidst the current situation, as a show of support and solidarity.

Black Lives Matter – The Implications

Black Lives Matter is alerting the USA to the social injustices of black people not only in a general sense. In academics, economics, business, finance, law, and practically all other spheres, black people are under-represented. It has started a revolution of sorts as protests take place across the USA for equality.

In terms of social class, the average total net worth of a white family was 10 times that of a black family in 2016. The main reason for this, however, is heralded as being a lack of inherited generational wealth as opposed to systemic racism. Almost 20% of Black families have debt that exceeds their assets, due to a combination of a lack of financial education and a lack of generational wealth.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (‘NAACP’) is the most prominent organization in terms of education, financial empowerment, and social equality for Black citizens. Their 2016 Black Lives Matter pamphlet included 11 tips to help Black children become more financially aware, how to increase Black ownership of franchises, and how to promote entrepreneurial leadership within Black communities.

The Black Lives Matter movement has been going on for some time. It was actually founded in July 2013 to protest police brutality against African Americans. However, it has now reached a global level with the recently recorded death of George Floyd in Minnesota at the hands of a white police officer. This most recent event has led to mass protests across the USA with riots and looting in response.

A History of Thwarted Black Wealth?

There is little question that the unfortunate history of black people in America is what has led to the current inequality. The primary reason for the lack of Black wealth and their under-representation in business is due to the treatment of previous generations. This has led to an infrastructure where other demographics benefit from inherited wealth, go to the best schools, and get the best jobs. In contrast, black people do not have any of these benefits in terms of wealth acquisition and are starting off on a much weaker platform to grow their income potential.

This is not a controversial point and is well-grounded in history and reputable reports. In the 1850s, New York actually destroyed a Black-owned village to create Central Park. Black business owners were commonly lynched throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. After the second world war, Black veterans were excluded from many benefits in terms of homeownership, benefits promised to other groups.

‘If you pay attention to the literal campaign of terror against black Americans in this country, what you’ll see is a lot of it was carried out against black business owners or anyone who was perceived as accumulating wealth.’

Khadijah Robinson, ‘The Nile List’ Founder

Needless to say, the issue is a mix of historical prejudice and current inequalities. Regardless, it needs to be remedied, and you can do this if you lend your support to Black-owned businesses. Any group that is a victim of inequality will ultimately hurt the entire nation.

Fortunately, there are many ways to demonstrate support and build a better nation with small but impactful actions.

How to Support Black-Owned Businesses

There are various ways that you can help black-owned businesses to survive COVID and to show your support for the current Black Lives Matter movement sweeping the USA. A primary way to help is to divert your spending towards Black-owned businesses. But this is by no means the only way to ensure social solidarity amongst US citizens, and there are many paths forward. Some of these mechanisms are outlined below.

Use Social Media

Social media remains one of the best ways to make a positive impact on Black business owners. After all, it’s free. Make your voice heard, follow leaders that you trust within this movement, and follow Black-owned businesses on Twitter and Facebook. Get your friends involved and cite some studies and statistics on the subject matter to generate awareness. Social media is probably one of the most powerful tools at your disposal to assist.

This is not merely a fad. Black-owned businesses have received an upsurge in sales amid the protests, and this has largely been attributed to social media awareness generation campaigns.

This is in spite of the fact that Black-owned businesses have been the hardest hit as a result of the COVID downturn.

The outcry among the public is turning to actual sales for Black business owners, and this is but one example of how Black people are being empowered due to a tangible movement that aims to assist a unique demographic group.

Get Informed

By simply understanding the obstacles that Black business owners face and the history of black people in America, you will be doing a lot to assist. It will help you to explain it to others and to see why this is an underprivileged group that needs support and attention at the current time. It always helps to stay informed and to know the figures.

For example, while corporations are saying they are going to address concerns, they tend to have a poor track record. And in a survey of Black economists carried out by the American Economic Association, only 14% agreed with the statement that “people of my race/ethnicity are respected within the field.” The more you know about any particular issue, the better you can respond to it and ultimately resolve it.

Without being made aware of such issues, the problems will not be addressed. As a consumer and a citizen, you have the financial and social power to help out disempowered groups, and this particular group is clearly disempowered.

Make Black Purchases

Try to shop with Black-owned businesses in your local area to give them some financial support amidst the disaster. It’s important to make a distinction here. You are not ‘anti-white’ – you are ‘pro-black’. There is a huge difference between attacking one group and empowering another.

In terms of racial discrimination, it is typically a tiny percentage of any one group that is causing all of the difficulties. So make purchases at Black stores, but don’t feel you need to ‘boycott’ white stores.

There is even a 30-day ‘Buy Black Challenge’ campaign that is getting started. This started on June 19th and will help you find Black stores and make a positive impact by highlighting the benefits of these stores and making a financial contribution. Each day, businesses in different industries are highlighted. The idea is to start a trend so that more and more people will buy Black, year-round.

Be Actively Involved

With the Black Lives Matter Movement sweeping the world, there are tonnes of petitions, movements, and organizations that you can join to better the lives of black people in the USA. You might even consider being a group leader, attending a peaceful protest/event, or setting up your own petition. Needless to say, you will be making a peaceful protest. Riots never solved anything, and they never will.

If you feel strongly about the matter, be intelligent with your words, your money, and your voice. Don’t just end up in jail or destroy someones else’s business because you are not in control of your emotions. In order to be actively involved, it definitely helps to understand what is going on and do your research (as mentioned in a previous point).

Donate Directly to Black Businesses

Many Black-owned businesses have been hit very hard with the recent COVID crisis and have also been victims of looting during the protests. You can make a direct financial contribution to help out. It does not have to be a huge sum of money, and every little helps. The alternative to this, as mentioned above, is to make purchases at Black-owned stores. Many initiatives are in place for you to find and fund local and national Black-owned businesses.

Premier Resources For Black Businesses

There are multiple programs that have been specifically designed to help Black business owners given the unequal challenges that they tend to face. Using these resources can help to level the playing field. The following is not an exhaustive list but contains the more prominent resources for Black-owned businesses. 

  1. National Association for the Self-Employed – This allows grants up to $4,000 for Black business owners. It is one of the foremost resources, providing training, networking, events, seminars, education, grants, and many other facilities. It can really help business owners to get started and also provides consultancy, life insurance, and medical emergency assistance. It is not only for Black business owners but for many other eligible groups.
  2. Black Women Enterprises – Black Women Enterprises (‘BWE”) has its headquarters in New York City and offers numerous services to Black women in business. Its core mission mandate is to remove the barriers against economic success for Black women. Interestingly, they also say that they are open to all women, as they do not discriminate, though their primary focus is on Black female entrepreneurs. Membership with BWE is completely free.
  3. Millennial Entrepreneurs Redefined – This is available for minority persons (including black people) aged between 18 – 35. Currently, live workshops are operational in 7 cities: Atlanta, Detroit, Washington D.C, Dallas, New Orleans, St. Louis, and Oakland. The aim is to assist minority millennial entrepreneurs to get up and running with coaching and training. The initiative is powered by the US Black Chambers Inc Community Development Corporation. It is partnered with the Black Business Empowerment program.
  4. DreamSpring – This is not directly aimed at Black business owners. However, it does tend to empower minority groups. It is available to all types of business owners in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas. This non-profit has been in operation for over 26 years and provides loans up to $2 Million.
  5. Black Enterprise – This is not a funding or training organization. Instead, this is actually an online publication that serves the Black community by highlighting key trends in the industry and motivates Black entrepreneurs. Another popular online journal is the Minority Business Entrepreneur.
  6. Black Founders – Black Founders is aimed at the empowerment of Black people in the technology sector. They have created a global network that allows Black people to share resources and connect. This is a very popular resource for Black entrepreneurs in the technology niche and has been featured in the Huffington Post, Black Enterprise, and MSNBC. They provide conferences, connections to funding, hackathons, and educational resources.
  7. Black Business Association – This is only available to Black business owners in the state of California. It is the oldest minority orientated organization in the state. Its aim is to provide funding resources to this demographic as well as providing more opportunities on a social, political, and economic level. Founded in 1970, it is now over 50 years old, with its headquarters in Los Angeles. The Black Business Association (‘BBA’) is a non-profit organization.
  8. Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program – This program has been designed to protect minority business owners against discrimination when procuring Federal transportation contracts. All business owners who are at a social disadvantage can gain assistance if they are involved in this industry (primarily transportation and construction).
  9. CATAPUALT – This is a joint effort from Capital One and the National Minority Supplier Development Council. It is essentially a 7-month long training program designed to empower and educate minority business owners. But it is orientated towards the resolution of complex problems or getting creative startups up and running. The National Minority Supplier Development Council (‘NMSDC’) is itself an avenue for Black business owners. It runs a non-profit consortium known as the Business Consortium Fund, which offers funding and consulting for minority business owners.

Black Business Grants

There are a huge number of grants available to Black business owners. For a more comprehensive list of grant options, check our list of business grants. It’s the most comprehensive and up to date article on active grants available to US business owners.

Billions of dollars worth of grant funding are given out each year. You have to find a balance between the time you spend applying against the probability of success. Some of the most prominent grant resources available to Black entrepreneur include:

  1. Minority Business Development Agency (‘MBDA’) – This is an arm of the US Department of Commerce. It connects minority business owners to funding and training resources. There are many business development centers dotted across the USA, supply a large number of grants and funding opportunities.
  2. Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Competition – The ultimate prize is $10,000 for the winner of this contest. The 4 semi-finalists will pitch their idea to a panel of judges while the audience watches. The only real requirement is that the contests are Black and have an equity stake in the business.
  3. Miller Lite Tap the Future® Business Plan Competition – Grants up to $20,000 are available through the Miller Lite Tap the Future® Business Plan Competition. This was previously known as the MillerCoors Urban Entrepreneur Series. On top of the prize money, applicants will have the opportunity to pitch at the world-renowned Shark Tank, in front of well known entrepreneurial ‘sharks’. It also provides business exposure through the ‘Fan Favorite’ contest.

Aside from these 3 primary grant programs, there are many, many other places you can visit to apply for grants. Some of these options are outlined below. Remember that grant writing is by no means an easy or straightforward process. It takes time to write a good grant application, and you need to have a system in place.

For some business owners, grant writing is actually its own department, with a specialist designated to find appropriate grants and write excellent and specific applications on a yearly basis as the grant programs reopen each year. Other places to find grants include:

7 Tips for Black Business Owners Right Now

Black business owners are in their own category right now and have significant potential for growth and expansion, provided they play their cards right. Just remember, that the current trend transcends the increase of financial compensation. It is about the empowerment of an entire demographic group from the richest to the poorest, regardless of where they live on the globe. With this in mind, the following are 7 business tips for Black owners.

#1 – Keep Growing

It might seem that the current situation is very untenable, unstable, and ill-suited to economic growth. But this is far from the truth. In fact, it’s no great secret that millionaires and billionaires make most of their growth in times of recession and turmoil. Focus on how to turn the situation to your advantage, not how to stay safe and watch your business falter and die. One of the most important business traits is adaptability.

There are so many financial and social initiatives in place for Black business owners right now, that you would do well to regard it as a perfect time for growth. Never before has a social demographic had so much social support. Capitalize on this and expand.

#2 – Work on Yourself

Many business owners (not just black business owners) can make the mistake of focusing more on the development of the business as opposed to the development of themselves. While there is a lot of overlap here, you have to develop along with the business. You won’t be able to run a  business for the long-term if you are not passionate about it and have daily motivation to move forward. 

Constantly reevaluate your strengths and weakness, and where you might need to get help. You should always be looking to expand mentally and emotionally by reading good books and getting the right exercise and nutrition. Ultimately, your business runs on you. Make sure the gas tank is full and don’t merely trade time for money. Otherwise, you will wear yourself out.

#3 – Get organized

Create a giant spreadsheet of current and existing financial resources. There are literally thousands of grants and loan options available. Keep applying, and tick them off one by one until you get the financing that you need. This might seem foolish if you do not currently have customers or support.

But your business model can adapt to bring in more customers. The main priority right now is to stay in business and not to despair because things have gone temporarily South. Every business owner comes up against a time of crisis at some stage or another. 

How you respond is up to you. You don’t have to throw up your hands and give up, just because everybody else seems to be doing so. Get organized and focus on what you can do, whether it is writing a business plan, changing your business model, cutting costs, or expanding along a different channel.

#4 – Reach out to Family and Friends

There are many benefits to the current economic and social turmoil. Now is a better time than ever to connect with friends and family. It is also a perfect time to make new friends and social connections. And this includes white people, not the  ‘Black v White’ battle that is subtly being played out on the media.

An effect of the Black Lives Matter movement will be a coming together of Black and White people, as well as people of different ethnicities and backgrounds. There is massive strength in having a community of like-minded individuals all working towards a common cause

#5 – Leverage Social Media

Never underestimate the power of word of mouth and social capital. Get active on social media and make your voice heard, whether you are a Black business owner or not. Start to launch initiatives to help other Black business owners and to tout them on social media. If you have any discounts for particular groups, make sure they are advertised on social media. Social media is a tool that cannot be ignored, regardless of your business model.

#6 – Become Anti-Fragile

The term ‘anti-fragile”- was initially coined by trader Nassim Taleb. Something that is anti-fragile gets stronger the more it gets injured. This is an excellent philosophy to have in terms of your business model. You should relish adversity. This is how all supreme athletes and business people look upon suffering and things not going to plan. They are not obstacles, but stepping stones on the path to success.

When Black Lives Matter and COVID have passed, you can be sure that more adversities will take their place. This is simply what happens in life, and you have to develop resilience and willpower to succeed in spite of adversity. Ultimately, it will make you a better business person.

#7 – Take More Risks

This is similar to the first point about continually expanding, but it goes even further. In today’s world and in the current political climate, you have to take risks, be creative, and be aggressive. The standard ways to try and get more customers will no longer work.

Customers look for innovative companies that have strong social goals. You need to provide them with incentives for visiting your business and constantly seek new means of optimization and expansion. According to Zim Ugochukwu of Travel Noire:

“With no risk, there’s no reward, and you either get comfortable with uncertainty and not knowing where you are going to end up, or you live this life that you don’t want to live.”

The Bottom Line

While the current situation seems very unfair and tragic, the death of George Floyd could serve as a catalyst for equality not just in terms of police injustice. Political, legal, financial, and other sectors of the US economy are being brought under scrutiny. Ultimately, it will lead to a fairer and more equal environment for all US citizens.

As a US citizen, you can support this movement in order to bring it to a better place and to assist a group that is clearly and obviously at a social disadvantage. And the outlook is not all grim, as sales are increasing and the economy is set to stabilize over the coming weeks and months.

Sarah Davis
Sarah Davis

Sarah Davis is a business executive specializing in mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, and international law. She achieved her MBA from Cornell University after completing a legal undergraduate at UC Berkley. Sarah runs her own business consultancy firm in tandem with working alongside the FinImpact team.



A New Assembly Line: Opportunities for Jobs and Economic Growth in the Electric Transportation Supply Chain

Author: Advanced Energy Economy      6/26/2020

Live on Tuesday, June 30th at 2pm ET / 11am PT

PA Webinar Graphic Final

Across the country and around the world, consumers, municipalities, and private-sector companies are turning to electric vehicles (EVs) as their primary mode of transportation, spurring significant potential for growth in the supply chain for EVs and charging equipment. This webinar will draw on AEE’s recent report, Electric Transportation Supply Chain in Pennsylvania, prepared by BW Research Partnership, which finds a robust supply chain in formation in the state. The report also finds that more than 350 Pennsylvania firms, many of them in industries and geographies that have seen declines in recent years, could transition to serving the supply chain for electric vehicles. As Pennsylvania, like many other states, considers economic recovery strategies following the COVID-19 public health crisis, the opportunity to capitalize on electric transportation growth deserves attention from policymakers. Our panel of industry experts will provide their perspectives on this opportunity for the Keystone State and look at how this could play out in other states.


  • Matt Stanberry, Managing Director, Advanced Energy Economy
  • Phil Jordan, Vice President, and Principal, BW Research Partnership
  • John Vernacchia, Segment Manager, Renewable Energy, North America Sales, Electrical, Eaton
  • Prasanna Srinivasan, Manager, Business Development & Marketing, Parker LORD

Register for the Webinar


Seven Solar Projects Awarded Funding; Round 3 Solar Prize Competitors to Demo Innovations

Author: DOE              Published: 6/25/2020    DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office

Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Seven solar projects have been selected to receive funding to get them closer to market; 20 teams are gearing up to present their solar innovations at the American-Made Solar Prize Round 3 demo day; it’s time to submit your full applications for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) professional training funding program and your concepts for the $9 million Solar Desalination Prize; SETO held its fourth quarterly webinar; and a new report highlights best practices for concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) systems.


These stories and more in this edition of the SETO newsletter.

Technology Commercialization Fund Project Selections

On June 11, DOE announced that the Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) will award over $33 million to 82 projects through the Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF), a competitive funding opportunity for the DOE National Laboratories that calls for private-sector partners. The partners are matching these funds with more than $36 million. Seven of those projects will work to bring solar energy technologies to market, and their contributions range from $150,000 to $600,000. The solar project selections are:

  • Idaho National Laboratory and Inergy Holdings (Pocatello, ID): Operational Integration and Scalable Deployment of Microgrid Control Algorithms into Nanogrid Inverter + Photovolatics + Storage Applications
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and First Solar (San Francisco, CA): Cracked Film Lithography for Metal Grids in Cadmium-Telluride Modules
  • NREL and 1366 Technologies (Bedford, MA): Passivated Contacts for Direct Wafers
  • NREL and Tandem PV (Santa Clara, CA): Scribe and Interface Modification for Stable Halide Perovskite Modules
  • NREL and Hyperlight Energy (Lakeside, CA): Technical and Commercial Assessment of a Newly Developed Secondary Reflector Design for Linear Fresnel Technology
  • Sandia National Laboratories and SunSpec Alliance (San Jose, CA): Continuous Interoperability for Distributed Energy
  • Sandia National Laboratories and Heliogen (Pasadena, CA): Heliostat Observation System Commercial Qualification

Set to Go: Demo Day for American-Made Solar Prize Round 3

On July 9, 20 teams competing in the American-Made Solar Prize Round 3 will demonstrate their proofs of concept for a panel of experts at a live virtual event for a chance to win $100,000 in cash and up to $75,000 in vouchers to be used at the National Labs. On July 10, SETO Director Becca Jones-Albertus will announce the 10 teams selected to advance to the final stage of the $3 million competition to revitalize U.S. solar manufacturing. Register for the July 10 event today to be part of the excitement.

Be In It to Win It: The Solar Desalination Prize

We’re coming down to the wire: There’s less than a month left to submit concepts for the $9 million Solar Desalination Prize competition, which aims to speed the development of innovative solar-thermal desalination systems. If you can design plans to build a successful one, we want to know about it. SETO recently held two informational webinars about the prize to give an overview of the submission process and answer technical questions for potential applicants. Download the webinar recordings and send your innovative ideas by July 16.

Solar Desalination Prize

Deadline Approaching: Help Professionals Work with New Energy Technologies

Time is running out to submit full applications for DOE’s Education Materials for Professional Organizations Working on Efficiency and Renewable Energy Developments (EMPOWERED) funding opportunity. EMPOWERED aims to develop new—and build upon current—training programs and materials for first responders and other professionals newly working with solar, alternative-fuel, and building-efficiency technologies. DOE expects to award up to four projects between $1 million and $2.5 million each. Learn more and apply by July 8 at 5:00 p.m. ET.

Let’s Recap: SETO’s Quarterly Stakeholder Webinar

On June 4, many of you attended SETO’s second quarterly webinar to “Ask an Expert” your most pressing questions about solar energy technologies, the office’s goals, funding programs, prizes, projects, and more. If you couldn’t join us, you can download the recording and presentation to catch what you missed. Our next one will be early this fall, so stay tuned for the date and time.

NREL Releases New Solar Industry Data

Solar energy capacity continues to grow in the United States, with 13.4 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaic (PV) energy installed in 2019 to reach a cumulative capacity of 76 GW. That’s according to the latest Quarterly Solar Industry Update published by the NREL on June 19. The lab also found that PV represented approximately 34% of new U.S. electricity generation in 2019 and just over 1 gigawatt-hour (0.5 GW) of energy storage was installed onto the grid in 2019—an increase of 43% year over year. Read the full update and view the summary here.

Report Provides Best Practices for CSP

As a result of SETO’s Fiscal Year 2019-21 Lab Call, NREL recently released the “Concentrating Solar Power Best Practices Study.” The report identifies issues with parabolic trough and power tower systems and proposes solutions that will lead to stronger, lower-cost CSP projects with better plant operation over the long term. The researchers gathered information from plant owners, operators, engineers, and other stakeholders representing 80% of the world’s CSP plants. Learn more about the findings.

Labs Against COVID-19

DOE’s OTT is leading the fight against the coronavirus through a partnership with the National Laboratories. The new COVID-19 portal on its Lab Partnering Service (LPS) and the COVID-19 Technical Assistance Program (CTAP) equip innovators with the tools they need to combat the pandemic. CTAP is a program offering OTT funds to National Labs so that they can partner with outside parties on short-term COVID-19 projects. The portal uses the LPS database to identify new technologies and opportunities for innovators partnering with National Labs in the fight against COVID-19. Read more about OTT’s portal and assistance program.

Shedding Light: New Webpage on Revised Interconnection Standard

NREL has a new educational webpage with information on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Standard 1547™-2018. The revised standard is designed to help grid operators, utilities, states, solar developers, policymakers and other stakeholders who work with distributed energy resources. The webpage includes a list of resources to help stakeholders adopt and put the standard into practice.

(IEEE) Standard 1547™-2018


Durable Module Materials (DuraMAT) Consortium Webinar 
July 13  | 3:00 p.m. ET
An NREL researcher will present at the “Multi-Scale Modeling of Photovoltaic Module Electrically Conductive Adhesive Interconnects for Reliability Testing” webinar.

SunSpec and Sandia Cybersecurity Webinar: Project Ekhi
July 15 | 12:00 p.m. ET
A Sandia researcher will discuss her SETO-funded project that is working to detect and respond to cyber threats at the “Project Ekhi: Proactive Intrusion Detection and Mitigation System for DER Cybersecurity” webinar.

Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) Grid Evolution Summit 
July 28-30 | 1:00 p.m. ET
The 2020 SEPA Grid Evolution Summit is a virtual event featuring sessions on integrated distribution planning, building community resilience with microgrids, and more.

SETO in the News

Solar Photo of the Week

Ivanpah Solar Project in California

Contracted workers clean heliostats at the Ivanpah Solar Project in California. Photo by Dennis Schroeder. Click the photo to download it.

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Shaping of Bakari Sellers in ‘My Vanishing Country’

Author:  Brenda C. Siler                  Published: 6/24/2020         Washington Informer

Autobiography Honors Family, Southern Life and Community By Brenda C. Siler

Bakari Sellers (Courtesy of John R. Walder/Carbon Thread Agency)

Many are familiar with Bakari Sellers through his role as a CNN political analyst. At the age of 22, he was the youngest-ever member of the South Carolina state legislature. He is an attorney. He is the son of Cleve Sellers, who was an organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the 1960s. As a result, young Sellers grew up in the presence of his father’s activist friends, including Julian Bond, Kathleen Cleaver and Stokely Carmichael. So was his path destined to be? Perhaps.

In 1968, Cleve Sellers was wounded during Orangeburg Massacre after South Carolina state troopers opened fire on students protesting segregation at a local bowling alley. The shooting took place on the campus of South Carolina State University, a historically Black institution. Three students were killed. Sellers was convicted of inciting a riot and went to prison for seven months. Sounds familiar? The elder Sellers went on to receive a doctorate at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and served as president of Voorhees College in Denmark, S.C.

The Orangeburg Massacre happened before the younger Sellers was born, but that’s still heavy family history. That family history informed how the younger Sellers reflected on the mass killing of nine African Americans at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. Sellers knew Clementa C. Pinckney, the church pastor and a member of the South Carolina state legislature where they both served.

“I talk about not just that incident but how it’s informed my perspective being a child of the movement,” Sellers said about the Orangeburg Massacre in a recent interview. “It’s my trauma and pain of living with that and carrying that burden and legacy all the way through the Charleston massacre, where my good friend Clementa Pinckney was gunned down.”

Sellers’ view of America is also shaped by his growing up in a working-class Black community of Denmark, which was not unlike many rural southern communities or even some predominately Black D.C. neighborhoods. It was a part of town where there were Black homeowners. Black-owned businesses flourished. There were stores, doctors, lawyers and other professionals that communities counted on. But the structure of America was not designed to ensure a lifetime of success for this type of neighborhood. Another form of trauma.

“All the promises that are supposed to be afforded to us are not afforded to us because of color, the low income, or immigrants,” Sellers said in a recent interview while explaining the title of his book. “The dream this country is supposed to provide is vanishing before our eyes.”

The personal history shared by Sellers in “My Vanishing Country” matches up with many issues that people today are marching about through peaceful protest. This autobiography gives Sellers a platform to share his anxieties and his concerns about what America holds for him, his wife and three children. But Sellers will not hold back on what he feels is right.

“We need justice in this country. We need it to actually mean something,” Sellers said in the interview when reflecting on recent killings of Black men and women. “I refuse to let people take away my hope. I refuse to let people take away my faith. We have made a lot of progress, but we still have so far to go. And I want to live in a country where my kids can be free.”

“My Vanishing Country: A Memoir” by Bakari Sellers is published by Amistad/HarperCollins.


Baltimore’s Top Prosecutor Dismisses Roughly 600 Open Warrants Amid Pandemic

Author:  WI Eeb Staff              Published: 6/26/2020         Washington Informer

Marilyn Mosby

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has dismissed nearly 600 open warrants for minor offenses in an effort to stem the number of people incarcerated amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Mosby announced Thursday that 586 warrants for offenses such as drug possession, paraphernalia possession, prostitution, trespassing and other minor crimes will be dismissed.

In March, Mosby ordered her staff to eliminate prosecuting such cases to help control the coronavirus outbreak in jails and prisons.

As of Friday, Baltimore City has 7,299 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 321 deaths, according to the Maryland government’s website.

Author: Didigu, Kellie          Published: 6/25/2020



Power Path DC

Press Release

 For Immediate Release: June 8, 2020

Contact: Kellie Didigu,, 202-626-5124

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia (Commission) issued a decision approving the next set of grid modernization recommendations for the District of Columbia, in its grid modernization proceeding, Power Path DC (Formal Case No. 1130, Order No. 20364).

 The Order addresses the remaining recommendations from the Power Path DC stakeholder process, including:

Enhancing data access for all residential customers through Pepco’s “Green Button Connect My Data”;

·    Issuing notice of inquiry, inviting stakeholder input on distributed energy resources (DERs) ownership rules;

·    Directing Pepco and Washington Gas to make system-level data available on their websites; and

·    Aligning Power Path DC vision statement with the District’s clean energy and climate commitments.

 In January, the Commission took the first in a series of steps to advance grid modernization in the District. The January Order approved several stakeholder recommendations:

 Adopting a new distribution system planning process to allow open and transparent stakeholder engagement; 

·       Launching the Power Path DC pilot projects governance board;

·       Developing a new retail choice website, DC Power Connect, that will serve as a central clearinghouse for third-party energy suppliers; and

·       Establishing a separate microgrid proceeding.

 Chairman Willie L. Phillips stated, “By aligning Power Path DC with the District’s clean energy goals, we take another important step towards achieving our strategic vision of a customer-focused, clean and renewable energy grid for the District.”

 To learn more about Power Path DC Order, Formal Case No. 1130, visit

 The Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia is an independent agency established by Congress in 1913 to regulate electric, natural gas, and telecommunications companies in the District of Columbia.

















Kellie Didigu

Communications Officer

The Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia

1325 G Street, N.W., Suite 800

Washington, D.C. 20005


A New Assembly Line: Opportunities for Jobs and Economic Growth in the Electric Transportation Supply Chain

Author: AEE          Published: 6/25/2020

PA Webinar Graphic Final

Live on Tuesday, June 30th at 2pm ET / 11am PT

Across the country and around the world, consumers, municipalities, and private-sector companies are turning to electric vehicles (EVs) as their primary mode of transportation, spurring significant potential for growth in the supply chain for EVs and charging equipment. This webinar will draw on AEE’s recent report, Electric Transportation Supply Chain in Pennsylvania, prepared by BW Research Partnership, which finds a robust supply chain in formation in the state. The report also finds that more than 350 Pennsylvania firms, many of them in industries and geographies that have seen declines in recent years, could transition to serving the supply chain for electric vehicles. As Pennsylvania, like many other states, considers economic recovery strategies following the COVID-19 public health crisis, the opportunity to capitalize on electric transportation growth deserves attention from policymakers. Our panel of industry experts will provide their perspectives on this opportunity for the Keystone State and look at how this could play out in other states.
    • Matt Stanberry, Managing Director, Advanced Energy Economy

    • Phil Jordan, Vice President, and Principal, BW Research Partnership

    • John Vernacchia, Segment Manager, Renewable Energy, North America Sales, Electrical, Eaton

    • Prasanna Srinivasan, Manager, Business Development & Marketing, Parker LORD

Please fill out the form to register for the webinar. 

Real 5G issues overshadowed by Covid-19 conspiracy theories

Author: Ingeborg Eliassen and Paulo Pena   Published:6/12/2020  E Investgate Europe

Real 5G issues overshadowed by Covid-19 conspiracy theories


It was Twitter that created an entirely different virus. On January 19, as Covid-19 was spreading in China, a Twitter post speculated that there was a link between the effects of the 5G network and the disease. ‘Wuhan now has over 5000 #5G base stations and will have 50,000 by 2021 – is it a 5G disease or effect?

Even a precursory investigation would show this to be a big logical leap. Take Portugal, for example, where there is no single 5G antenna in operation. Even the auction that was to grant operators licenses to launch this new technology was postponed in March. Portugal has Covid-19, but will not have 5G anytime soon.

Image: Alexia Barakou

5G towers set on fire

The claim that there is a link between 5G and the pandemic, nevertheless went viral in Facebook groups, messages on WhatsApp, and in YouTube videos, in parallel with Coronavirus spreading across the globe.

The theory is that Covid-19 has either been caused by the frequencies used for the new mobile technology, or that the signals harm people’s immune systems so that they are easy targets for the virus.

Online fear and anger spilled into the offline world, first in the UK. Since the beginning of the Coronavirus lockdown, there have been around 90 arson and sabotage attacks on mobile masts in the country, according to Sky News. Telecom engineers out working at infrastructure have been assaulted, spat on, and forced to flee angry people. Towers have been vandalized in Ireland, in Cyprus, and in the Netherlands.

Image: Alexia Barakou

“No such evidence”

Two scientists who have spent many years sounding the alarm about potential health risks from exposure to radiofrequent electromagnetic fields, dismiss the notion that there is a scientific basis for a 5G-Coronavirus connection.

“There is no evidence that there is a relationship between 5G and the spread of Coronavirus. It is inappropriate to raise these rumors,” says Fiorella Belpoggi, Research Director at the Ramazzini Institute in Italy.

Dariusz Leszczynski, a molecular biologist and editor of of ‘Frontiers in Radiation and Health’ specialty of the Frontiers in Public Health, explains that: “Some activists claim that it is known that RF-EMF exposures, including radiation emitted from 4G and 5G, cause decline in the immune response. That is incorrect. Several studies on RF-EMF exposures and immune response have been published, but there is no proof whatsoever that there is an effect. Claims by activists that the deployment of 5G weakens immunity and helps Covid-19 to spread and infect people is absolutely wrong. There is no such evidence”.

RF-EMF: Abbrevation for “radiofrequency electromagnetic fields”. Emission of electromagnetic radiation from radiofrequency waves.

Common EMF sources are power and transmission lines, internal building wiring system, electrical panels, transformers, motors and appliances.

Common RF sources are radio and tv transmissions, mobile towers and antennas, mobile phones, wireless computer networks (WLAN) and radar equipment.

Image: Alexia Barakou

Blurring important questions

Dariusz Leszczynski is concerned that undocumented claims that Coronavirus is caused by 5G – or that there is no virus at all, and that people are simply getting sick from 5G itself – will silence legitimate questions of health effects from mobile radiation.

The new questions on 5G add to real scientific disagreement concerning health effects of RF-EMF by former generations of mobile technology. This disagreement is barely acknowledged. The situation has opened up widespread public uncertainty that cannot be mended simply by official assurances that there is nothing to worry about. In our age of social media, vacuums are easily filled with conspiracy theories. They tend to go viral – as fast as Covid-19.

About this report

Unsubstantiated claims that Covid-19 somehow is spread by 5G have gone viral in social media. However, other issues concerning mobile technology and public health have divided the scientific community for years. In 2019, Investigate Europe interviewed a large number of scientists specializing in the effects of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) in mobile technology. We also interviewed all relevant international bodies. Our aim was to map the scientific disputes in the field. The following, including quotes, is based on reporting that took place in late 2018 and early 2019, unless obvious or otherwise stated.

While it is easy to dismantle a 5G-Covid-19 connection, it is more difficult to answer another question: Is radiation from 5G technology completely safe?

Image: Alexia Barakou

The 5G revolution

Investigate Europe’s 2019 research on the roll-out of 5G and the landscape of science on health issues connected to RF-EMF found one disturbing fact: There is an astonishing lack of scientific studies on how new frequencies that will be used for 5G, will affect health.

“We simply don’t know. We only have a few studies, it is nothing. The only response of the industry is that 5G is low-power and therefore no problem”, says Dariusz Leszczynski.

5G is an upgrade of the previous generations of 2, 3 and 4G. But it is also much more than that. The powerful technology is going to be the base for what the telecom industry calls a “revolution.” It will allow the so-called internet of things, where everything is online and connected. 5G is needed to sustain driverless cars, remote surgery, as well as smart cities and homes, including ultra-fast access to films and music

To achieve all this, the 5G network will also use the millimeter waves part of the frequency spectrum. These are low-power, short-range waves, unable to break through walls or other obstacles, such as trees. They can be directed individually, but they have to be relayed from a base station via small antennas to avoid obstacles and reach their destination. These stations will be small, the size of fire alarm boxes.

This will compel data companies to place tens of thousands of these small base stations on street furniture, lampposts, and on the exterior and interior of buildings. Currently, the 4G network uses fewer antennas, more powerful, further away from our daily lives, thanks to its longer transmission range.

It is from the coming high number of antennas that some of the new fear of harmful effects of mobile radiation arises.

Image: Alexia Barakou

Previous ‘Generations’: 2G, 3G, 4G

Most of the research on radiation from mobile technology and health has been done on 2G and 3G technologies. As the world is about to enter the 5G era, scientists can look at thousands of studies and calculations on health effects of radiation from 2G and 3G. But there is strong disagreement on how to interpret the results – and the implications for the 5G network, which is new, and for which there is a particular lack of studies.

Most European governments rely on scientific committees that hold on to one basic premise: the only documented health risk from mobile radiation is the heating of body tissues. Radiation safety limits are made to prevent this from happening. As long as these limits are respected, there is no risk to health, according these committees.

For most users of 3G and 4G technology, it is easy to stay on the right side of these limits: They are only reached or exceeded if you are directly in front of a base station and less than 10 meters away.

Five billion mobile users worldwide might seem as proof that this works well. A significant number of scientists, however, do not sign to that conclusion.

Image: Alexia Barakou

Studies find risks

Historically, science on RF-EMF has been associated with the telecommunications industry and the military sector. Engineers used to dominate the field. Today, physicists, biologists and epidemiologists with other entry points and perspectives have joined the discussions.

Some of these scientists argue that people can be harmed by being exposed to mobile radiation far below the limits, especially over the course of many years of use.

The Oceania Radiofrequency Scientific Advisory Organization, an Australian entity, examined 2,266 studies and found “significant biological effects or health effects” in 68% of them. Another, the Bioinitiative Group, referred to up to 1,800 studies when it concluded that many of these effects are likely to cause health damage if people are exposed to radiation for a long time. This is because radiation interferes with the body’s normal processes, preventing them from repairing damaged DNA and creating an imbalance in the immune system, these scientists say.

According to the report prepared by the Bioinitiative Group, the list of possible damages is frightening: Poor sperm quality, autism, alzheimer’s, brain cancer and childhood leukemia.

Most European governments do not listen to these scientists. They act on advice prepared by ICNIRP, the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection. ICNIRP dismisses research concluding there are negative health effects from mobile radiation. “There are a lot of publications that are of insufficient quality. These are not taken into account in our review,” said Eric van Rongen, then chair of ICNIRP, while ICNIRP was updating their 1998 guidelines.

One report is dismissed by ICNIRP despite being the most costly and official ever: The 2018 conclusions by the National Toxicology Program, part of the US Department of Health. Their scientists had done a ten-year study of rodents at a cost of 30 million USD before concluding with “clear evidence” a link between mobile phone radiation and cancer. The earlier mentioned Ramazzini Institute in Italy recorded parallel findings in a related project.

Image: Alexia Barakou

New safety limits

In March 2020, ICNIRP updated the guidelines that most European governments rely on. The new guidelines take into account the coming exposure to the higher frequencies that will be used for 5G. The basic premise of the guidelines remains as before: To prevent the heating of tissues.

There is minimal research done on how exposure to these higher frequencies might affect public health. Some scientists warn that there is a danger that they could heat up the body’s tissues. One of them is Dariusz Leszczynski, who used to work at the Finnish radiation protection agency, where he came to conclusions they did not share: He found mobile phone radiation impacted cells even when below the safety limits. This is important because cells are where stress is activated.

In contrast to 2, 3 and 4G radiation, 5G radiation does not penetrate the human body. So-called millimeter waves that will partly be used with 5G, don’t go deeper than the skin.

“This is being used as assurance: It’s only the skin, it doesn’t go into the brain, everything is fine,” says Leszczynski.

“But it is not so fine. The skin is our largest organ and our largest immune-response organ; it is full of cells that regulate our immune response. If we mess up the immune response in our skin, we mess up the immune response of our bodies altogether”.

So is 5G radiation exposure on skin dangerous?

“We simply don’t know”, says Leszczynski. He is adamant that more studies must be done. “This is a cliche, but this is the problem: we lack research on very basic things. It sounds so simple, but it is expensive. And those who are influential, like industry, don’t want it,” Leszczynski claimed.

ICNIRP’s van Rongen agreed that more science is needed. “ There are still a number of uncertainties. For instance, the long term effects of mobile phone use on brain tumors are insufficient to draw conclusions. Most of the ongoing research now focuses on long term effects. That is the information we need. For the time being we have to deal with the info we have. But we definitely need more,” said van Rongen.

Meanwhile, the message from ICNIRP is that there are no risks. The updated radiation limits guidelines ‘provide improved protection for higher frequency 5G and beyond.’

‘Parts of the community are concerned about the safety of 5G,’ Eric van Rongen noted in the press release. ‘We hope the updated guidelines will help put people at ease.’

Image: Alexia Barakou

Tools for politicians

Where science is not complete, European governments have a special tool at hand: The precautionary principle. When you have a potentially serious and irreversible hazard to many people, but inconclusive evidence, precaution can be justified.

“It wasn’t designed for scientists, it was designed for policymakers,” said David Gee, former “Senior Adviser, Science, Policy and Emerging” issues at the EEA, European Environmental Agency. But policymakers tend to get too caught up in the science, rather than focusing on their job, which is to decide what action to take or not to take, he said.

Another reason not to take precautions is that limits may restrain a profitable business. “Policymakers often want to wait for “beyond all reasonable doubt” strength of evidence. But by definition, that comes too late. Once the evidence of harm is given, the harm is done,” Gee says.

The precautionary principle is part of the EU Treaty, and there are dozens of cases where it has been successfully used. The EU’s ban on antibiotics in animal feed is one such case. “Pfizer took the EU Commission to court on this ban, arguing insufficient evidence,” Gee explains. “The Commission won. The court essentially said that this is what the precautionary principle was designed for.”

ICNIRP’s safety limits take into account the needs of the telecommunications industry, according to Dariusz Leszczynski: “Eastern countries had a tradition with military research which ended up with lower safety limits. ICNIRP has more industry-driven safety limits, meaning limits that are applicable to the industry. Their aim is to set safety limits that don’t kill people, while technology works – so something in between.”

Eric van Rongen agreed that the uncertainty could be a reason to apply precautionary measures. That is not ICNIRP’s task, but ICNIRP’s limits are set with a large degree of conservatism, so precaution is already applied, he said.

“National authorities could consider those uncertainties large enough, and the possible effects serious enough, to take further precautionary measures. These do not necessarily have to mean lowering exposure limits,” according to van Rongen.

Image: Alexia Barakou

The Swiss example

Switzerland practises precaution. It has its own radiation limits that are much lower than those of most European countries. The Swiss environmental agency, BAFU, has warned of unknown public health risks related to “electrosmog” due to the large increase in electromagnetic fields created from mobile technology. A task force that examined the issue last year, was unable to agree on any common recommendation. The Swiss parliament has twice refused to relax the radiation exposure limits.

Two researchers at the Swiss institute IT’IS claimed in 2018 that radiation above 10 GHz can cause tissue damage by heating the skin to ‘tens of degrees.’

One of these researchers, Esra Neufeld, told Investigate Europe: “Some categorically deny that there are anything other than the thermal effects. […] Others say the non-thermal effects are extremely underestimated. The literature is still contradictory. The bad thing about 5G is that there are practically no biological experiments that show how this radiation actually affects the skin.”

“The use of millimetre waves – frequencies above 10 GHz – is not currently approved in Switzerland,” according to Ivo Minger, a BAFU spokesperson. He responded to a question from Investigate Europe about the IT’IS study in February 2020. Thus, IT’IS’ finding has had no impact on the Swiss governments plans for a 5G roll-out, he noted.

But since 5G partly depends on these frequencies, this has delayed the 5G roll-out. As of February 2020, three out of 26 cantons and municipalities had imposed a moratorium on 5G technology. “In cities and conglomerations, only approximately 2% of the existing installations can be expanded with the capacities needed for 5G,” according to Minger.

In April, the Swiss government declared it would keep current safety standards for 5G ‘to protect the population from non-ionizing radiation,’ according to Reuters.

Funding, Expertise, Utility Cooperation: Three Things Cities Need to Reach 100% Renewable Energy

Author: Maria McCoy          Published:  6/10/2020       IRSR

Investigating City Commitments to 100% Renewable Energy

Local Transitions and Energy Democracy

The authors of this report are master’s students in the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) at the University of Michigan.

Cities of all sizes around the country are taking control by pledging to reach community-wide goals of 100% renewable energy. However, many of these cities are unsure of how to meet these commitments. Although the renewable energy potential throughout the U.S. is strong, cities are facing other types of challenges that are hindering their ability to progress swiftly to meet the commitment.

Click to read the full report

Executive Summary

Greenhouse gas emissions are rising at an unprecedented rate and posing an immediate threat to human and ecosystem health. The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions is from human activities that include the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation. Renewable energy serves as a viable solution to replace fossil fuel generation to create a healthier environment. Increasing awareness of both the necessity and opportunity surrounding renewable energy development is resulting in climate action at the municipal-level. Cities are physically formed around energy infrastructure, and therefore they have the ability to be powerful change agents in transformative energy policy and enact worldwide action. A number of United States (U.S.) cities are proposing and implementing bold sustainable solutions in order to combat the social, environmental, and economic impacts of climate change. Cities of all sizes around the country are taking control by pledging to reach community-wide goals of 100% renewable energy. However, many of these cities are unsure of how to meet these commitments. Although the renewable energy potential throughout the U.S. is strong, cities are facing other types of challenges that are hindering their ability to progress swiftly to meet the commitment. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, in partnership with a student-led team at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability, wants to enable progress toward local and equitable 100% renewable energy access and use by compiling recommendations and resources for achieving an energy transition that incorporates energy democracy. In this report, energy democracy refers to the implementation of participatory forms of energy governance and civic ownership. ILSR and the team also partnered with the Sierra Club through their Ready for 100 campaign to fully assess 100% renewable energy commitments across U.S. cities. The goal of this report is to utilize qualitative and quantitative data through a national survey and case studies to help understand the mechanisms that will best enable cities and their decision-makers to equitably transition to 100% renewable energy.

Understanding Unique Pathways to 100%

A broad national survey was used to assess general trends across city commitments throughout the country. Questions on the survey were developed with eight key mechanisms and tools in mind – Commitment Origin & Strength, Data Access, Finance, Municipality & Utility Structure, Policy, Resource Assessment, Social, and Technology. Survey questionnaires were sent to a total of 941 contacts (569 city officials and 372 community leaders) with 108 total surveys completed. Select results from the national survey are outlined below:

  • Top drivers for commitment: climate change concerns; care for the local environment; potential for financial savings
  • Top barriers to progress: lack of funding; lack of support from the utility; lack of expertise
  • Most helpful data resources that were not available: peer network of municipal sustainability staff; online database(s) of city renewable energy practices; metrics to evaluate renewable energy initiatives
  • Top sources of funding for programs: local taxes and fees; state and federal funding
  • Top methods for engaging the community on energy policy: meeting with representatives from the community; public hearings; workshops; social media; lobbying and legislation; engaging in regulatory proceedings and other administrative actions
  • Top city building initiatives: LED lighting; green building certification; public electric vehicle charging stations; on-site renewables
  • Most common ways to reduce energy burden: partnering with representative and community-based groups from low-income communities; providing community education and workshops
  • Most common efficiency programs: energy auditing; weatherization


Following survey and interview data collection, project findings and actionable recommendations were developed for use by local officials and advocates to address barriers.

General Recommendations for Cities

  1. Build partnerships, coalitions, and relationships externally and within the city to work together, partner on projects, and share resources, stories, and knowledge.
  2. Ensure disproportionate energy burden on citizens is being adequately addressed by engaging marginalized communities and investing in efficiency and clean energy programs directed towards these communities.
  3. Engage with other cities that have similar commitments to build a network of peers for sharing best practices, data, and metrics.
  4. Collaborate with community-based organizations and national non-profits that can provide additional perspectives and resources to help with the planning and decision-making process.
  5. Assess the use and allocation of local taxes and fees from the city and supplement with the state, federal, and fundraising opportunities (e.g. grants) in order to procure funding for implementing programs and technologies.
  6. Advocate for renewable energy policies and funding mechanisms at the state and federal level.
  7. Empower citizens to have voices within the energy system through education and awareness campaigns, engagement in energy policy and regulation issues, and support of community-based organizations.
  8. Hire dedicated staff and foster connections with other cities, particularly among dedicated staff, to maximize expertise in the transition.
  9. Designate a team or person entrusted to champion the initialization and maintain communication within the local government to ensure that all departments are on the same page.
  10. Develop an interim goal to help motivate staffers towards the transition to 100%.
  11. Partner with neighboring cities on energy projects, whether they have made the commitment or not – cities and residents tend to support renewable energy initiatives and could be willing to work.

Recommendations for Cities Contemplating a 100% Renewable Commitment

  1. Increase engagement within the city in order to mobilize the public to advocate for change.
  2. Track energy usage in municipal buildings and build a greenhouse gas inventory as a way of making future planning easier if your city wants to have a rough idea of where to begin before making the commitment.
  3. Communicate with your state’s energy office, if possible, to see what resources are available to you for easing the planning process.
  4. Formalize the commitment even if there is not a fully-developed plan in place – the commitment will help to inform the policies and choices that are made within the community going forward.


Read Case Studies and More in the Full Report

The authors, in partnership with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and the Sierra Club, have compiled this report to fulfill the requirements of their master’s capstone project. The students were also advised by SEAS Assistant Professor Dr. Tony Reames whose research explores the disparities in residential energy generation, consumption, and affordability, focusing on the production and persistence of inequality by race, class, and place.

LeBron James, other athletes form new voting rights group: ‘More Than a Vote’

Author: Hunter            Published:  6/14/2020                Daily Kos

As nationwide civil rights protests continue, however, NBA legend LeBron James and other league stars are forming a new group, More Than a Vote, to help protect those voting rights. In an interview with The New York Times, James said one of the group’s goals will be encouraging Black Americans to register and vote. Another will be to warn minority groups about new moves to restrict those rights.

As James told the Times: “Yes, we want you to go out and vote, but we’re also going to give you the tutorial. We’re going to give you the background of how to vote and what they’re trying to do, the other side, to stop you from voting.”

He also cited the death of George Floyd as the reason for the new group, saying it pushed him to “get out and do a little more.”

Other athletes involved include Trae Young, Jalen Rose, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Draymond Green, Udonis Haslem, and Alvin Kamara. It sounds like this is going to be considerably beyond an effort to merely fund a new voting rights group and that the stars plan to be personally involved, using social media to reach fans and give the “tutorial.” It will be part of a critical effort; toppling the racist state and national leaders orchestrating the willful sabotaging of the right to vote can only happen if the Americans targeted turn out in such numbers as to overwhelm those attempts.


The debacle in Georgia on Tuesday was another powerful reminder of just how perilous the November elections may be nationwide as Republicans pull out all the stops to make voting as difficult as possible rather than face the full wrath of Trump-weary voters. For obvious reasons, Black Americans will be especially targeted.

As nationwide civil rights protests continue, however, NBA legend LeBron James and other league stars are forming a new group, More Than a Vote, to help protect those voting rights. In an interview with The New York Times, James said one of the group’s goals will be encouraging Black Americans to register and vote. Another will be to warn minority groups about new moves to restrict those rights.

As James told the Times: “Yes, we want you to go out and vote, but we’re also going to give you the tutorial. We’re going to give you the background of how to vote and what they’re trying to do, the other side, to stop you from voting.”

He also cited the death of George Floyd as the reason for the new group, saying it pushed him to “get out and do a little more.”

Other athletes involved include Trae Young, Jalen Rose, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Draymond Green, Udonis Haslem, and Alvin Kamara. It sounds like this is going to be considerably beyond an effort to merely fund a new voting rights group and that the stars plan to be personally involved, using social media to reach fans and give the “tutorial.” It will be part of a critical effort; toppling the racist state and national leaders orchestrating the willful sabotaging of the right to vote can only happen if the Americans targeted turn out in such numbers as to overwhelm those attempts.

A Note from The Solar Foundation

Author: Solar Foundation   Published:  6/13/2010

A Note from The Solar Foundation
We have been humbled and inspired to see so many people take to the streets in these past weeks to fight against systematic racism and injustice. We know this is a historic time for our country and one of those rare moments when it feels like sweeping change could be possible. As renewable energy advocates, we are committed to fighting for equality as we call for a clean energy future. To learn more about our research on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the solar industry, visit our website here.
We stand with the Black Lives Matter movement, and we look forward to working harder, learning more, and finding new opportunities to deliver change.
We’ll Miss You At Summer Solstice
We’re only a couple weeks away from this year’s Summer Solstice! Sadly, our 10th annual rooftop celebration will not be taking place this year. If you haven’t already, please consider making an online contribution to support our work at The Solar Foundation. We depend on your individual contributions to make a difference, and we remain committed to coming out stronger on the other side of this pandemic. We’ll see you again soon!
A SolSmart Opportunity for Virginia!
Announcing the newest SolSmart Advisors! Our SolSmart program is partnering with experts at the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) and the University of Virginia (UVA) to help local governments across the state make it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar.
Carrie Hearne at the DMME and Elizabeth Marshall at UVA will provide expert technical assistance at no cost to help municipalities and counties accelerate the use of solar energy and related clean energy technologies, such as battery storage and electric vehicles.

Any municipality or county that is interested in taking part in the program should visit the DMME website for more information.

Webinar: Local Government Strategies for 100% Clean Energy
For both large and small communities, there is growing interest in achieving 100 percent clean or renewable energy. This free SolSmart webinar on Tuesday, June 23 at 2:00 p.m. ET will provide an overview of the approaches to setting renewable energy goals and processes for identifying the most impactful and appropriate implementation strategies. This is the first in a series of three webinars on expanding renewable energy footprints at the local level. This webinar provides one AICP CM continuing education credit. Register here.
New SolSmart Resources
SolSmart Issue Brief: Community Choice Aggregation. This SolSmart issue brief provides an overview of how a community choice aggregation (CCA) is organized, the process local governments can use for establishing a CCA, and how a CCA can be used to increase solar deployment. Read it here.

Solar Energy: SolSmart’s Toolkit for Local Governments. SolSmart has published a comprehensive introduction for communities seeking to go solar. This is the most thorough and up-to-date solar energy guide that local governments can find anywhere. Read the toolkit here.

Standing Strong in Puerto Rico

Our Solar Saves Lives initiative has completed a solar and battery storage installation at COSSMA Las Piedras, a nonprofit clinic in Puerto Rico! This clinic is part of the Federally Qualified Health Center network, which serves over a million low income patients across its locations.

The new system will provide backup for critical services such as medicine storage, vaccines, emergency lights, and the pharmacy computer and laboratory. Thanks to our funders at The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, as well as the Hispanic Federation, Clinton Climate Initiative, and the installer ISO Solar Puerto Rico for making this possible.

New Solar Ready Vets Opportunities
The NABCEP Photovoltaic Associate Program has been approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to receive benefits under the GI Bill! This means veterans and transitioning military personnel can now apply for reimbursement of application costs and exam fees. In the future, we’ll be working to register training and education programs with the VA to ensure that veterans can also cover the costs of solar PV courses. Learn more here.

Our Solar Ready Vets team is producing a series of profiles to showcase military talent across the solar workforce, and we’re looking for veterans employed in solar companies to share their “Service to Solar” stories. Please reach out to our team at

The Solar Ready Vets Corporate Fellowship places transitioning service members in professional and management roles with solar employers to support a smooth transition from active duty to the civilian solar workforce. Our summer SRV Fellowships are off to a great (remote!) start, and we are now recruiting solar employers for the fall cohort to host fellows in roles such as business development, project management, engineering, operations, and more. To learn more and get started, visit our website here.

As a nonprofit, we rely on your generosity and support. The Solar Foundation is an independent 501(c)(3) operating foundation and our work is made possible through the support of tax-deductible grants and donations. Help us accelerate adoption of solar energy. Make a charitable contribution at

The Solar Foundation
1110 Vermont Ave. NW, Suite 930, Washington, D.C. 20005

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