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Raising Money and Awareness: The Lights for Learning Way

Now “nine years young,” MEEA’s youth-oriented Lights for Learning (L4L) program continues to grow more robust and popular, with supporters across the state. “We have participated in [Lights for Learning] for years and couldn’t be happier,” writes a science teacher from Bloom High School, one of many long-time fans of this program. “My students raise awareness as much as they raise money.”

Revolutionizing the traditional school fundraising model (i.e., selling candy, cookies or wrapping paper), L4L introduces synergistic opportunities for meaningful education, efficiency gains and market transformation. This MEEA trademarked program promotes the sale of CFLs, LEDs and other energy efficient products. Fifty percent of all proceeds support participating organizations like Bloom High School, and MEEA incentivizes exemplary sales achievements with a suite of interactive, efficiency-themed prizes.

Thanks to the many eager partners across Illinois, during the 2012-2013 school year, the L4L program successfully:

  • Educated 25,594 students about energy efficiency and how to save energy in their daily lives
  • Presented 297 educational presentations at schools, public libraries and community festivals
  • Supported 1,532 fundraising students who sold 18,233 items, resulting in an annual estimated savings of 525 MWHs

For organizations like Bloom High School, L4L is a primary initiative specific fundraising effort and can raise roughly $300 to reinvest in a variety of programs. This fundraising helps Bloom High School, and other organizations, raise money for activities like school field trips (Clinton Rosette Middle School), science competitions (Dwight Eisenhower High School) and school gardens (J.B. Kennedy School).  L4L also provides a platform to educate community members about the values and benefits of energy efficient products.  Millennium School teachers reported their students are actively raising awareness about energy efficiency.  “Empowering them with this knowledge allows them to educate others in their family and community,” said Jackie DeMarco, a teacher at Millennium School.          

The education cycle doesn’t end with the school year now that L4L is offered throughout the summer to school and park districts camps, but planning for year ten is already well under way. Heading into the 2013-2014 school year, MEEA received funding from the DCEO Illinois State Energy Office to continue expanding L4L in Illinois. In preparation for the coming school year, MEEA staff and partners are updating presentations, fundraiser product selection and curriculum so the L4L program can continue to successfully fulfill its goal of educating Illinois students on energy efficiency.  This funding will continue the program’s mission to raise money through fundraisers and make schools, organizations and students more energy efficient.