Writer’s Note: This article is the third article in a series that focuses on individuals who have made a contribution through business or non-profit endeavors that focus on improving the quality of people’s lives.

 

It is not common for a person to drop out of Yale, especially of their own volition. With 98% of students graduating within six years, Yale has one of the highest graduation rates in the country. However, one look at Yale dropout Billy Parish’s CV shows that there are times when dropping out of a top-notch university is warranted.

 

In 2002, Parish decided to drop out of Yale University to devote his time to co-founding the Energy Action Coalition, a youth advocacy group calling for progressive environmental legislation and accountability for environmental injustice. Since its founding in 2005, the Energy Action Coalition has partnered with 30 youth-led environmental and social justice organizations, hundreds of campuses, and reached hundreds of thousands of individuals. They have mobilized students and other youth at the college, municipal, state and national levels to fight for action and legislation in favor of producing sustainable sources of energy while reducing global dependence on fossil fuels and other dangerous energy sources.

 

Parish went on to co-found Mosiac in 2010 with serial entrepreneur Dan Rosen. Mosaic has been described as the “crowdfunder of solar energy,” by  many sourcesMosaic is a growing platform where anyone willing to invest at least $25 can directly fund a solar panel installation project. As explained by Parish, “Mosaic connects investors with high quality solar projects. Those projects that are built generate electricity, which they then sell, and the revenue goes towards paying the investors back.” These projects have already helped community organizations such as the Youth Employment Partnership in Oakland to save money on electricity and focus their funds on the primary purpose of their organization.

 

Mosaic offers long term investments, typically in the 8-12 year range. During this period, individuals receive competitive monthly returns on their Mosaic “Notes”. The expected return on investment is significantly greater than leaving the money in a CD or investing in bonds, and much safer than the stock market. To date, Mosaic has paid back 100% of its investments on time. All Mosaic investments have an expected annual yield of 4.4-7%.

 

Photo from a Billy Parish post on the Mosaic Inc. Blog

Photo from a Billy Parish post on the Mosaic Inc. Blog

Parish has used business principles as a means to address environmental and energy concerns. However, Parish has done much more than that; he has also provided a platform for anyone willing to invest $25 to capitalize as well. Furthermore, investors have the opportunity to browse what type of project they would like to fund. They can choose projects solely based on expected returns, or choose projects that provide returns and solar energy for institutions and organizations that are doing good for their community or state.

Over the last few decades the cost of solar energy has decreased exponentially, opening the doors to viable investment opportunities. Parish states, “Simply put, building a new clean energy infrastructure is the biggest business opportunity on the planet.”

 

The usual problem with small-scale solar projects comes down to funding. Banks are much more likely to give competitive loans to a coal plant seeking $500 million, Parish says, than to a solar-array roof project asking for $100,000. He argues that, “if all we have are big banks, then all we will get is big energy.”

 

Parish is paving the way towards a better future for our environment and for our democratic society. His work seeks to provide a future where our world runs on clean energy sources that are owned by the people rather than a few wealthy individuals. As stated by actor and supporter Mark Ruffalo, “You know what this is about? This is about every American being able to produce their own energy, store their own energy, and sell their own energy as they wish.  It is independence at its best.”

 

For more information on Billy Parish and Mosaic Inc., please check out:

Mosaic Inc. Website

A list of amazing Huffington Post articles by Billy Parish

Billy Parish’s TED Talk

 

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet me @dannystevens91 with your thoughts!