NORTHFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A program will award students from Franklin County school districts to produce a project that highlights the needs of clean energy and climate change.

The program is called “Valley Climate Champions”, which will award a total of seven $1,000 grants available to high school and middle school teachers. One grant for each of the Franklin County school districts and Franklin County Technical School will be awarded before the start of the 2021 fall semester. The best product will receive an additional $2,000 and will be presented in the Spring of 2022 from FirstLight, a leading clean power producer and energy storage company.

“As the largest clean energy producer in New England, FirstLight is honored to engage Franklin County teachers and students on the importance of sustainability and increase awareness of climate change through the Valley Climate Champions Program,” said Alicia Barton, CEO of FirstLight. “This new grant program builds on our long-standing investments in educational programming in Franklin County. Through our engagement with local teachers and students, we hope to identify and empower future leaders of our clean energy workforce and encourage conversations around our changing climate and visions for an equitable clean energy future. ” 

Teachers can apply to the program through an online application form by July 30, 2021 for students who can provide a project about the positive impact of clean energy on the region.

“FirstLight’s Valley Climate Champions Program is an extraordinary way for our local high school and middle school students to build the necessary skills to become the next generation leaders in our fight against climate change and to be part of our region’s clean energy transition,” said Yves Salomon Fernandez, President of Greenfield Community College (GCC). “GCC is proud to be an advisor to this program, which will allow Franklin County students to weigh in on the important issues facing our communities, including environmental justice, increasing awareness about sustainable technologies and climate science, and exploring the clean energy workforce –a growing industry that employs people right here in the Valley.”