Climbing icon Alex Honnold and his foundation team up with 3M to help repower Appalachia and its people
Jan 18, 2022

Alex Honnold knows a thing or two about energy.

He expends a lot of power climbing the world’s tallest rock walls without a rope.

But long before he made headlines for becoming the first person to free solo Yosemite’s El Capitan, he was an advocate for renewable energy.

His passion eventually led to the creation of the Honnold Foundation, a non-profit with the mission of promoting solar energy for a more equitable world. 

“The Honnold Foundation believes that access to solar energy can help reduce economic and social disparities in many frontline communities around the world,” said Alex.

The foundation’s efforts caught the attention of 3M, which had recently launched an ambitious five-year initiative to create five million unique STEM and skilled trades learning experiences for underserved individuals.

3M and the Honnold Foundation identified an opportunity to join forces and fund a large-scale solar installation in West Virginia in partnership with Coalfield Development, a community-based social enterprise focused on rebuilding and revitalizing Appalachia.

The funding also supported a renewable energy training program for eight local individuals in coordination with Solar Holler, the first solar energy company in West Virginia.

“3M has the unique capability and opportunity to introduce people to STEM and skilled trades,” said Michael Stroik, vice president of community relations, 3M. “That introduction can be the spark to a new world of opportunities, and we want to be the catalyst to that spark, five million times over.”

The solar array will help to power Coalfield’s community facility and is the largest non-profit solar installation ever recorded in the state of West Virginia. It will serve as an educational tool for Coalfield’s colleagues and counterparts, demonstrating the viability and promise of a solar-powered Appalachia.

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