Covenant Solar Initiative was founded in 2017 by Chéri (Faso-Olf) Smith – with the support of Co-Founders Dr. David Riley, Otto Braided Hair, and Daniel East – to continue the impactful philanthropic work that they had done in prior years on the Northern Cheyenne and other Native American reservations in the U.S., with funding and operational support from SolarCity Corporation/Tesla, Inc., and GivePower Foundation.
Covenant is proud to be a project Earth Island Institute, a 501(c)(3) organization, 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 is a strategic decision [Project Name] made in order to increase our effectiveness, organizational durability, and greater capacity to do out 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.
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 educate and aid tribes in implementing regenerative solar energy solutions in First Nation Communities, 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 delivers education and training in Solar Business Development, Management, Installation, Safety, Operations, and Maintenance. We help indigenous communities to establish employee-owned solar companies, 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.