Proyecto Azteca and Live In The Lights, a student-run sustainability and economic prosperity non profit, are working to secure and install high-wattage portable solar panels and light battery banks for more than 100 families in the Colonias area of the Rio Grande Valley. The joint initiative will also tackle persistent financial stagnation in the region through economic empowerment strategies and tools.
Live The Lights was founded in 2018 in Virginia by 17-year-old Adie Selassie after a visit to the Rio Grande Valley with her eighth-grade class. Here, she experienced the plight of many of the families living along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Ever since I visited the Colonias as part of an eight-grade school trip thre years ago, my heart has been here and I’ve been determined to make a difference,” said Selassie. “Our mission is to better the lives of residents of the Colonias in a way that is practical, efficient and sustainable.”
After launching Live In The Lights, Selassie garnered financial and philanthropic support for the purchase of sustainable light and electricity sources as well as essential clothing articles for families in need. Some of the initial funds paid for electricity bills of the Colonias residents. This was the critical need initially identified through outreach and research before the emergence of a more long-term solution.
Looking To A Brighter Future
“Adie’s effort to bring innovation and spark to families in one of the poorest counties in the U.S. is an exemplary effort that should attract many other youth leaders to do similar things in their communities,” said Proyecto Azteca board member Pepe Cabeza De Vaca. “We applaud her efforts and envision a partnership with her and her team well into the future.”
“Partnering with Live the Lights resulted in the provision of sustainable energy solar panels to more than one-hundred colonia families without access to power and electricity,” said Amber Arriaga-Salinas, executive director of Proyecto Azteca.
Financial and in-kind commitments have come in various forms, including a recent endowment of 33 solar panels. The Live In The Lights donor network ranges from small benefactors like high school students and their families to larger organizations and big banks that have made triple-matching commitments for donated funds.
The long-term strategy of this project is to solve the community’s energy needs via solar power, while simultaneously finding ways for the residents to create a sustainable, intra-colonia ecosystem of commercial activity between small businesses. Selassie calls this a Double Sustainability Mandate.