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How Our Just Innovation Prize Winners are Accelerating Access in California

June 11, 2018

· 4 min read
Elemental Excelerator

In November 2017, we announced a $100k funding opportunity for three EEx portfolio companies that were looking to accelerate access to clean technology in some of California’s low-to-moderate income neighborhoods.  We requested proposals for projects in CalEnviroScreen 3.0/ disproportionately-polluted and low-income communities in California that increase access to clean technology and provide economic opportunities. The Just Innovation Prize projects also serve as a “pilot” cohort for our larger Equity & Access Track which will be announced in Fall 2018. 


Examples of our Community Focus

We are initially focusing on partnering with communities identified as “disadvantaged communities” by CalEnviroScreen 3.0.  Examples of such communities include: East Palo Alto, Stockton/Central Valley, South San Francisco, Oakland, and East Los Angeles.


And the winners are…

We selected three awardees: PastureMap, Pono Home, and Sighten. 


PastureMap is building the first regional soil health data-sharing network starting with 11 ranching businesses in the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valley. Ranchers in one of the most disproportionately polluted parts of the state will be able to compare soil data and learn from each other. This project will be partially funded by the CA National Resources Conservation Service.

  • Locations: Northern California (Butte, Merced, Sutter, and Tulare)
  • Partner: Point Blue Conservation Science
  • Estimated impact: 11-50 ranchers
  • Why does this project matter: EEx is excited to engage with agriculture stakeholders across California and support PastureMap as they work through the requirements for setting up a carbon credit market in agriculture.

Pono Home

Pono Home will work with Acterra and El Concilio of San Mateo County to offer home efficiency services for low-income and elderly residents in East Palo Alto. A major component of this project will be awarding a Pono Home franchise to a community member, after training local East Palo Alto-based technicians to complete the work. After the project, these technicians will be able to perform Pono Home’s private sector services.

  • Location: East Palo Alto
  • Partners: Community Partners
  • Estimated impact: approx. 100 homes
  • Why does this project matter: A significant component of Pono Home’s project is local workforce development. The project is destined to provide both immediate and lasting benefits.


Sighten will partner with GRID Alternatives to provide solar design software and boots-on-the-ground labor for the planning and installation of solar projects for 10 low-income households in East Palo Alto as well as other disadvantaged air quality districts in the Bay Area.

  • Locations: East Palo Alto, Oakland, San Jose, East Contra Costa County
  • Partner: GRID Alternatives
  • Estimated impact: 10 families
  • Why does this project matter: Through this project, EEx is excited to match an innovative technology with a leader in providing solar power to low-income communities, Sighten’s software will assist GRID Alternatives with training and afford quality solar paneling for LMI families.  EEx is excited to learn about GRID Alternatives’ methodology for selecting families and their approach to workforce development and training.

Our Equity & Access Track

In an effort to speed the growth of groundbreaking companies like our Just Innovation Prize winners, we are launching a new Equity & Access Track in Fall 2018.  Our Equity & Access Track is designed for companies whose technology or business model increases access to impactful tech solutions for California’s LMI communities.  Selected companies will receive an investment of up to $750,000.  Additionally, our team and partners will work with the Fall cohort on key strategic growth areas, including product/market fit, business-model pivots, and market-expansion opportunities. This will also include ‘Equity In’ and ‘Equity Out’ programming.

Interested in helping our companies accelerate access for LMI clean technology customers in California? We will be hosting a series of marketplaces for potential partners and investors at the following locations:

June 25, 2018 – Oakland, CA @ The Greenlining Institute, 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

June 26, 2018 – Sacramento, CA @ California Energy Commission 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

June 27, 2018 – East Palo Alto, CA @ Cooley Landing, 10:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Please RSVP here if you are interested in attending.

If you can’t make it, but want to uncover how we can work together, complete our partner form on our website.