Echo Glen Children’s Center receives solar energy grant

July 27, 2010

By Staff

Echo Glen Children’s Center — a state juvenile detention facility in Snoqualmie with education administered by the Issaquah School District — is racking up grant funding this summer.

The facility has received two grants that will help enhance the education and experience of children at the facility, all of whom have committed a crime.

The first grant the school received is one from Puget Sound Energy for a renewable energy program. With the funding, the school will install a 1.5-kilowatt portable household power system, charged by an 85-watt solar module.

“We will put solar panels up and monitor the energy that it produces,” Principal Mike Williams said. “It won’t offset a great amount of energy, but the kids will learn about energy consumption and renewable energy sources.

“It is a great opportunity for the kids to learn about energy.”

The grant also includes funds for educational materials and teacher training. The total award comes to about $6,000.

Bellevue-based PSE awarded about $100,000 in renewable energy grants to Echo Glen and six other educational institutions in Western Washington.

In order to receive the grant, the renewable energy demonstration systems must require no fuel and minimal maintenance for 20 years or longer. The systems must also generate enough power to operate 10 notebook computers for eight hours per day.

The grants must support Web-based monitoring software to allow students and interested community members to track how much energy the system generates as weather changes.

“Our environment and our economy both demand new ways of thinking about how to produce energy cleanly and efficiently,” Cal Shirley, PSE vice president of energy efficiency services, said in a news release. “Expanding the grant eligibility to select educational institutions will offer real-world, first-hand experience to students and citizens interested in how energy is produced, and how vital it is to use energy wisely.”

PSE expects to offer a new round of grants through a similar application process in early 2011.

The second grant was awarded by The Allstate Foundation July 22, through its Agency Hands in the Community program.

Snoqualmie resident and Allstate agent Patrick Sprague, who volunteers as a biweekly fitness instructor with the school, presented it to the facility.

“A lot of the kids there don’t have anybody,” he said, adding that he’s been a volunteer for seven years. “Many of them have been abused or neglected. And while they’ve all committed crimes, many have been victims, too.”

The grant will be used to set up mini-scholarships current students can apply for to help fund small things, like a membership to the YWCA, clothes for job interviews or to attend leadership camps.

Sprague applied for the grant through the foundation’s Agency Hands in the Community program, designed to help agents get involved with nonprofit organizations within their communities. The program started in 2003 and Sprague said he found out about the facility through his church, Church on the Ridge.

“For years, our church has been generously providing lots of gifts to the kids at Christmastime,” he said. “I got to know the director that way, Patti [Berntsen], she is a wonderful person and when we asked if we could expand our presence there, as we had a lot of people in the church that would like to come in and help out, she helped us get started.”

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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