Holy Cross Education Foundation

It is the mission of Holy Cross Education Foundation to provide funding and administrative assistance to schools that strive to provide the highest quality primary education to children in disadvantage areas. We seek to effectively help prepare students for the challenges of life in the 21st century - spiritually, mentally, morally, emotionally and physically by providing a state-of-the-art educational environment.
May 5, 2014

Phase 2 Solar Panels Installed and working!!

Phase 2 5KW solar farm -- installed and working!!!
Phase 2 5KW solar farm -- installed and working!!!

Thanks to you, our many donors, our Phase 2, second set of solar panels, have now  been installed by Baker Renewable Energy (BRE, http://bakerrenewable.com/) at Holy Cross Anglican School in San Mateo, Belize. This second set will produce peak 5KW of power generation -- doubling our capacity from 5KW to 10KW.This past week, two BRE technicians spent the week working at Holy Cross Anglican school to afix the new array on roofing sections above the kitchen and lower division classrooms. As shown in the attached picture, the new array features 10 250W panels that are angled toward the east, and 10 that are angled toward the west. This will even out the power distibution curve. Further, the roof-length is long enough that we can, up to a point, simply add-on additional panels without having to implement additional breaker equipment. Since each panel has its own microinverter, a problem with any one panel will not bring down the entire array.

Our recent power consumption analysis showed that we are consuming substantially more energy than these arrays produce -- that is, almost all of the solar-power generated is going to offset our metered power bill, with very little being lost back to the "grid." As noted in my last report, we were very pleased that independent review re-affirmed that our plans to provide a farm generating at least 20KW using panel micro-inverters and net-metering was the best possible for our location.This means that we will be undertaking Phases 3 and 4 projects -- to grow the farm from what is now 10KW to at least 20KW. Further, additional strategies including reducing energy consumption may be adopted -- after a more thorough energy audit is undertaken. You will be hearing more about these in upcoming reports.

I also wanted to keep you apprised of our current funding situation. Firstly, being a MicroSoft YouthSpark project makes a huge difference in our ability to raise funds quickly. For new, recurring donors, the first three months of your donation will be matched 100%. After three months you can opt out as well. Secondly, on bonus days, there is a further YouthSpark Match. The next bonus day is tentatively set for June 25th -- starting at Noon. All donations on that day will be matched at an <additional> 100%.

Secondly, we are within $3000 of balancing our Phase 2 budget, having -- thanks to you -- received ~$2000 in donations since my last report. Interestingly, $3K is just about exactly what was charged at Belizean customs as GST tax on the solar equipment. Unfortunately, this expense was unforeseen -- and will be planned into the budget for Phase 3 if we cannot find a suitable workaround. Nevertheless -- we need to fully balance our Phase 2 budget before we can embark on Phase 3. I will update you again on project status prior to the next YouthSpark Bonus day.

Once again, the children that are benefitting from an education they could not otherwise receive at Holy Cross Anglican School are now more secure in their future as a result of bringing down our school operating costs, while also making a difference for the environment. We are so very thankful to you, our donors, and to BRE for their generous in-kind donations that are making this project happen.

Apr 16, 2014

Solar Panel Installation and YouthSpark Match!!

Typical home where most of our students reside
Typical home where most of our students reside

After some delays in Belize Customs in March, all solar panels and ancillary equipment associated with our second 5KW solar PVC installation (Phase 2) arrived safely and securely at Holy Cross Anglican School. Items were carefully checked off the bill of lading to ensure that all components were accounted for. I accompanied an advanced team of volunteers in early April, who devoted considerable time to preparing the roofing surface with white reflective coat paint. I also reviewed our overall energy strategy with both a local expert and as part of a site visit from Global Giving staff member Lydia Sorensen (see pictures). We were very pleased that independent review re-affirmed that our plans to provide a farm generating at least 20KW using panel micro-inverters and net-metering was the best possible for our location.This means that we will be undertaking at least Phase 3 and 4 projects -- to grow the farm from what will soon be 10KW to at least 20KW -- hopefully in the next couple of years. We have an EXCITING opportunity in MATCHING funds to help finance this!! I provide more information below. At the same time, additional strategies including reducing energy consumption may be adopted -- after a more thorough energy audit is undertaken. You will be hearing more about these in upcoming reports. In the meantime, Baker Renewable Energy's (BRE) installation team will be leaving Raleigh this coming Sunday, April 20th and plans to complete the Phase 2 installation by the end of next week -- April 25-26 timeframe. Our next report will document the results of this exciting installation trip. Thank you to every donor that has contributed thus far.

I also wanted to update you on our current funding situation. Because of some unplanned expenses -- in particular a large GST Belizean tax bill that was unanticipated -- we are running about $5000 short to completely balance our "Phase 2" budget. But -- because we have recently qualified as a Microsoft YouthSpark Partner -- we can stretch our donations much farther than previously possible:

1) First, all new recurring donors will see their monthly donations matched at 100% for the first 3 months. It is easy to become a recurring donor on our Global Giving page -- just look on the right hand frame. If you are not already a recurring donor, your first 3-months donations will be DOUBLED and you can opt out after 3 months. And new recurring donations can be entered at any time, not just on a bonus day.

2) In addition, Wednesday, April 16th, beginning at NOON EDT, is a BONUS Day:

  • The Microsoft YouthSpark Bonus Day will begin April 16th, 2014 at 12:00:01 PM (noon) EDT and will end April 17th, 2014, at 11:59:59 AM EDT, or when matching funds run out.
  • There are $100,000 available in matching funds from Microsoft.
  • Matching is applied at 50% for every donation from $10 up to $1,000 per donor per project/microproject.
  • The project or micoproject that has the most unique donors on Microsoft YouthSpark's Bonus Day will receive an additional $10,000 prize from Microsoft.
  • If you sign-up as a new recurring donor during Bonus Day and matching funds are still available, your donation will be increased by 150%!!
  • BONUS Day funds often run out very quickly, for example, within the first 15 minutes of the campaign -- so if you really want the 150% match you will need to be ready right at Noon EDT/11AM CDT/10AM Belize time.

With these new matching funds opportunities, we believe we are well-positioned to finish balancing our Phase 2 budget and then fund Phases 3 and 4 going forward. We thank all who have given in the past and continue to support us in any way. Please do consider becoming a recurring donor if you are not already one -- at least for three months. And please do consider that at Noon tomorrow, new recurring donations will be matched by MicroSoft at 150%! With most sincere thanks to all from John and the Board of Holy Cross Education Foundation -- and the children and staff of Holy Cross Anglican School.

GG Staffer Lydia Sorensen visiting
GG Staffer Lydia Sorensen visiting
Volunteers work on roof preparation
Volunteers work on roof preparation
Students excited about our visit
Students excited about our visit
Volunteer with student
Volunteer with student
Jan 23, 2014

Solar Equipment Procured, Installation Planned

Thanks to you, our generous donors, all components have been procured and are awaiting shipping from the on-site warehouse at Baker Renewable Energy (BRE) in Raleigh, North Carolina. The attached pdf contains the donation letter and bill of lading, which has been provided to Belizean government authorities to obtain a Duty Exemption letter. We are hopeful that the letter will be finalized and delivered to the appropriate customs officials within the next 1-3 weeks. In any event, we plan to ship the system to Belize City and then via barge to Holy Cross Anglican School departing Raleigh no later than about February 15th. Should the Duty Exemption letter still be "in process" at that point, we will contact additional supporters within the Belizean government to ensure that the donation is properly credited as a donation by Belizean customs. Our plan is for the equipment to arrive on site at HCAS in early March --- and -- allowing for some date slippage -- to send our first team of installers around April 1st. BRE is making a substantial in-kind contribution to help with the technical expertise needed to install this Phase 2 system, and we are most deeply grateful for their commitment. I will plan to update you further once the equipment has been shipped and Duty Exemption letter obtained. With most sincere thanks to all from John and the Board of Holy Cross Education Foundation -- and the children and staff of Holy Cross Anglican School.


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