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Strategic Vision

RREAL's Strategic Vision and Action Plan: Holding Ourselves Publicly Accountable

RREAL’s strategic vision is to use solar power to reduce poverty in Central and Northern Minnesota. We refined that focus in 2021, making 2022 our first full year on this path. Leadership transitions and some programmatic adjustments in late 2022 and early 2023 have shifted the work slightly, but our vision and focus remain largely the same


This Action Plan will be updated regularly, as programs and projects progress, so please check back to see how we are doing.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns, or want a fuller description of any goal or project, please feel free to contact Executive Director Nik Allen at


Thank you for your interest and for taking the time to visit our website!

2023 Action Plan Dashboard

Ongoing Goals & Projects

Solar Education and Workforce Development


  1. Complete the 2021-2023 Solar Internship Program at White Earth Tribal and Community College (WETCC). Launch Solar Associate Degree Program at WETCC. 28 Solar Interns graduated from RREAL and WETCC's partnered Solar Internship Program. In 2022 WETCC became NABCEP certified, making them the second  location in all of Minnesota to offer a testing site to acquire NABCEP's industry standard certifications. As of Spring 2023, a solar education program is now available as a core offering at WETCC.

  2. Implement On the Job Training (OJT) programming and career/hiring events with partners ENEL, Minnesota Power, and local rural Habitat for Humanity affiliates. RREAL worked with ENEL, Minnesota Power, and White Earth Tribal & Community College to host a job fair at WETCC in May 2022. Some of Enel's drone pilots demonstrated and allowed attendees to take a chance operating an infrared drone, which are used to monitor solar arrays. In Summer 2022, Minnesota Power hosted RREAL and WETCC interns for on-the-job training at a utility grade solar site in Sylvan Township, near Brainerd, Minnesota.

  3. Export White Earth education and workforce development programming to a second Minnesota Tribe. In June 2023, RREAL's Solar Internship Program will expand to the first location outside of WETCC as we host a training with Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. This first training already has a waitlist, so RREAL will work for additional funding to host another round in the future. RREAL is also in conversation with other interested groups; we'll share more on that as things are solidified.

  4. Complete a study with Clean Energy Economy Minnesota and CURA projecting renewable energy job growth by MN region and segmenting for type of renewable energy.


Solar Small Business Development

  1. Launch REAL Solar to be an independent, for-profit solar design-build cooperative. Success! As of January 1, 2023, the REAL Solar, SBC founded and owned by RREAL is now a separate entity under new management. This was a difficult decision that took years to finalize, but we are proud to say all Real Solar employees who were employed at the time of the transition remain employed by the new entity. Real Solar LLC is still located in the RREAL office in Backus, and we still partner together whenever programmatic opportunities allow. This separation is better for everyone, we think: Leaving the nonprofit work to the nonprofit professionals, and the solar installation work in the hands of folks who know how to run a for-profit business and maximize the company's potential.

  2. Launch a majority Native-owned Renewable Energy company. We are proud to say that RREAL assisted Solar Educator, George Lemelin, and his family in launching Global Energy Link, LLC, which will focus on providing additional solar education and training opportunities.

  3. Break ground on a solar-powered, BIPOC-owned commercial greenhouse business. Conversations and planning have been underway for years, though sadly some previous plans dissolved as partners began to move in different directions. HOWEVER, we at RREAL are still committed to the idea of expanding the availability of sustainably grown food with solar powered greenhouses in rural communities. We continue to plan and prepare for new opportunities to work in this area.

  4. Complete an Agrivoltaics curriculum in conjunction with the planning and construction of solar greenhouses to be used at schools, summer camps, and more as we work to share education and inspiration for the ways we can pursue sustainability through various intertwining strategies. Greenhouses in pre-development and fundraising. Agrvoltaics Curriculum underway.


Solar for Humanity


  1. Complete solar projects on Habitat for Humanity homes with partner affiliates in Grand Rapids, the Brainerd Lakes Area, St. Cloud, Alexandria, Fergus Falls, and elsewhere in Central or Northern Minnesota as funding and opportunities allow. RREAL is currently developing relationships with more Habitat for Humanity Chapters to plan for future projects.


Organizational Sustainability Goals

  1. For 40% percent RREAL’s Board of Directors to be Black, Indigenous, or people of color, aiming to fully represent all communities in Greater Minnesota. This is an ongoing task and priority.

  2. For the entire Board of Directors to attend governance training and a virtual board fundraising series created for RREAL's leadership. This will occur in 2023.

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