Following two devastating hurricanes, American citizens in Puerto Rico could face up to six months without power. A collective of Chicago clean energy organizations has banded together to respond to this challenge and is enlisting members of the public to get safe, renewable light to families in need.
Chicago-based LuminAID is working with nonprofit partners to distribute solar lanterns, including models with phone chargers, to families in Puerto Rico. A $10 pledge covers the cost of one solar lantern and can be made by visiting luminaid.com/Chicago4PR. During the month of October, solar lantern sponsorships will be matched up to $10,000 by Chicago’s Hanley Foundation, Invenergy, and the Invenergy Future Fund.
The Hanley Foundation and Invenergy, North America’s largest, privately-held renewable energy company, became familiar with LuminAID as sponsors of the Clean Energy Trust Challenge. Lights sponsored in the matched campaign will be distributed to affected families by disaster relief partners such as Convoy of Hope, a non-profit distributing aid to Puerto Rico and islands across the Caribbean.
With the power grid largely destroyed, an estimated 85 percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents are without power today.
Coming to the aid of disaster victims is exactly why graduate students Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta created LuminAID lanterns. The inflatable solar device provides hours of light charged by the sun. And now an integrated phone charger can help people stay in contact with family members and relief services. Their invention won a top prize at the 2013 Clean Energy Trust Challenge in Chicago and helped them close a deal with Mark Cuban on Shark Tank in 2015.
To date, more than 22,000 LuminAID lights have been pledged for households without power in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Caribbean islands, Texas, Florida, and Mexico. Chicago-based energy utility company ComEd has sponsored 5,000 LuminAID solar lanterns that are already on their way to the island. Several other non-profits including the Clean Energy Trust, Faith in Place, Go Green Illinois and the Natural Resources Defense Council, will partner in promoting the Windy City campaign.
When we think of our most basic human needs, we often think of food, water, and shelter. But when architecture graduate students Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta were asked to design a product to assist post-earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, they considered the dangerous conditions at night in the tent cities and turned their attention to another critical need: light. They designed the LuminAID light to be easily distributed in time of need by packing and shipping flat.
In 2015, Anna and Andrea went on the hit TV show Shark Tank, and wowed the “Sharks” so much that they got offers from every Shark! They accepted an offer from Mark Cuban, and he was the company’s first investor.