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WVU Foundation launches new fundraising tool to benefit WVU Solar House Team

on Mon, 07/08/2013 - 08:00

The West Virginia University Foundation is launching a new fundraising tool to help organizations on campus. Friends Asking Friends is a peer-to-peer fundraising program that takes advantage of modern technology and social networking sites while soliciting family and friends.

This new online tool will integrate the Foundation with email, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to raise both awareness for a specific cause and private dollars. The WVU Solar House Team is the first to partner with Friends Asking Friends.

Kara Jenkins, the Foundation’s project coordinator, explains that participants will reach out to their friends, family and co-workers through social media to ask them to support their cause. From there, those interested in donating will be directed to the Friends Asking Friends website.

Focusing on one project at a time, Friends Asking Friends is meant to better the University as a whole, Jenkins said.

“We are really looking for causes that identify with a lot of people,” she said. “The Solar Team is a great example of this. We are looking for projects that will generate interest.”

“30 Students for 30 Days” – the first project of Friends Asking Friends – will raise funds to send the WVU Solar House Team to California for the 2013 Solar Decathlon.

Despite a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund the building of the house, the team still needs money to travel across the country. A travel fund of $50,000 is necessary to get the team and its project to California for the month-long Solar Decathlon.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Solar Decathlon is a collegiate design-and-build competition that challenges young minds to create solar-powered houses that are energy-efficient, cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing. The houses will be judged in 10 different subcategories including architecture, engineering and marketing appeal, among others.

One of 20 teams selected internationally, the WVU Solar Team is looking forward to competing in the Decathlon.

“We are really excited,” said Branden Bellanca, the team’s project lead. “This is the first time that WVU has been accepted into the competition so we are really excited to represent the state and University, especially since we are competing against other prestigious universities such as Stanford and Cal Tech.”

The team is currently in the final stretch before the competition this fall. With designs finalized and construction underway, PEAK – or Preserving Energy with Appalachian Knowledge - will be the first log-cabin-inspired home to make it to the competition. Named to evoke images of the beautiful West Virginia mountains, PEAK incorporates traditional style and contemporary living with smart automation.

“A lot of the houses in the competition are very futuristic and boxy, none of them are actually places you would want to live,” said Bellanca. “So what we’ve done is taken smart automation and all of these cool futuristic ideas but they are very subtle and hidden behind a screen of a very rustic home. You have all of these futuristic things but you have a very homey setting that they all incorporate into.”

Beginning this week through Aug. 31, the peer-to-peer fundraising project will rely on e-mail blasts and intensive social networking in order to reach the amount needed to get the team to California.

To participate in Friends Asking Friends and donate to the WVU Solar House Team, go to