Covenant Solar Initiative was founded in 2015 by Chéri (Faso-Olf) Smith – with the support of Co-Founders Otto Braided Hair, Daniel East, and Dr. David Riley – to take to the next level the impactful philanthropic work that they had collectively done over 20 years on the Northern Cheyenne and other Native American reservations in the U.S.
Native American Tribes inherently possess the desire to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy on their reservations, yet, most lack the capacity to do so. CSI supports and advances the development of culturally-based, indigenous solutions to the cataclysmic effects of climate change and extractive fossil-fueled energy. By deploying a curated team of experts to empower tribes to build the capacity for developing regenerative solar energy solutions in First Nation Communities themselves, we aim to disrupt the cycle of economic and environmental poverty, restoring vibrancy and vitality to these indigenous societies.
Key strategies of Covenant Solar Initiative are focused on re-localizing energy economies, and fostering the preservation of ancient belief systems, to ensure a safe and healthy future for the children of today, and the next seven generations. The Covenant Team engages with tribes in geographic areas of the United States where energy poverty is of particular concern, and where solar energy can effect the greatest positive impact in the shortest amount of time.
Working with tribal governments, tribal members, and the national network of Tribal Colleges, Covenant develops and finances solar projects, delivers education and training in Solar Business Development, Management, Installation, Safety, Operations, and Maintenance. We assist indigenous communities in establishing employee-owned solar cooperatives and tribal utilities, and identify innovative and solvent sources of financing. These and other activities empower tribal governments and individual tribal members to exploit the power of the sun for the purposes of economic development and environmental stewardship, with tremendous human impact.
Sustainable Development Goals
Covenant Solar Initiative measures impact in accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The programs of Covenant Solar Initiative directly address the following five Sustainable Development Goals:
1) No Poverty
7) Affordable, Clean Energy
8) Decent Work & Economic Growth
11) Sustainable Communities
13) Climate Action
Earth Island Institute
Covenant is proud to be a project Earth Island Institute, 501(c)(3), which provides fiscal sponsorship, resources, training, technical assistance, and peer relationships to environmental activists looking for an organizational home and institutional leverage for their work. Becoming a fiscally sponsored project was a strategic decision Covenant founders made, in order to increase our effectiveness, organizational durability, and greater capacity to do our work. Earth Island leverages the power of a network of diverse projects, the invaluable knowledge and influence of renowned leaders in the environmental movement, and the track record of a 35-year old organization and experienced staff. They are home to projects on the forefront of the environmental movement utilizing strategies that are responsive to the social, economic, and political realities of our time.