Chispa Nevada receives funding that the Energy Foundation makes in partnership with the League of Conservation Voters.
Chispa is one of the few environmental programs engaged in traditional community organizing that builds the advocacy capacity of Latinx families. As part of RenewNV, a partnership of groups working to build and enhance Nevada’s clean energy economy, Chispa Nevada educates the community about the myriad health and economic benefits of clean energy, and generates support for action in the Latinx community.
In recent years, a broad-based coalition in Nevada helped to organize grassroots educational efforts, amplifying the benefits of clean energy for the state’s residents. In 2017, the state adopted nine laws promoting clean energy, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles, including programs for low-income communities. The laws had bipartisan support and were signed into law by Governor Brian Sandoval (R). Chispa Nevada was a key member of the coalition, given that more than a quarter of the state population is categorized as Hispanic or Latino in the 2010 U.S. Census.
The laws promise a brighter future for historically disadvantaged communities of color through healthier neighborhoods, climate security, and more jobs—generating a market impact of about $500 million in a state with under 3 million residents. This is a dramatic turnaround from 2015, when Nevada’s growing rooftop-solar industry was crippled and the health of millions of people was put at risk with the rollback of net metering.
As the Latinx population becomes majority-minority in many locations, it has the potential to be a powerful force advocating for solutions. There is a legacy of environmental injustices that disproportionately impact communities of color, including health issues stemming from the state’s historic reliance on fossil-fuel power plants.
Rudy Zamora, Program Director of Chispa Nevada, a League of Conservation Voters program, has a personal stake in the battle: Both he and his young son suffer from asthma. “We are building a network of self-sufficient community organizers that can be their own best advocates,” he says of Chispa.
Chispa builds independent community organizer networks through its free training program called “Promotores.” With its ladder of engagement, Chispa guides participants through the skills-building process to ensure the community is empowered to educate and advocate for its interests. Examples from the Promotores toolkit include letters to the editors of Spanish-language media outlets, partnerships with faith-based and youth-based organizations, and community events and rallies. A new educational and accountability tool is a clean energy scorecard from partner RenewNV.
“Chispa Nevada has been able to build grassroots organizing capacity in the Latinx community, which now uses its collective voice to educate and advocate for clean energy benefits for the community,” said Andrea Sanchez Davidson, Energy Foundation’s Senior Program Associate, West Campaigns.