Soul City Solar Awards $40,000 to Hinds County Nonprofits in Inaugural Round of Community Grants

The company planning a new solar farm between Bolton and Raymond is partnering with several local organizations to ensure that the project’s benefits are felt broadly throughout Hinds County.

Soul City Solar is awarding $40,000 in funding through its Community Grant Program to support eight local nonprofit organizations. The program is designed to support groups working in Hinds County to build healthy communities, support economic development, foster environmental sustainability, and promote education.  These grants are the first round of funding distributed through the program and represent the beginning of a long-term commitment to the region. The developer of the project, Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy, has awarded over $4 million in community grant funds to nonprofit organizations across the country.

“The Soul City Solar team has enjoyed engaging with the area’s nonprofit leadership and learning how we can best support community needs,” said Chris Hawk, development manager with Apex Clean Energy. “We are thrilled that we can provide this initial boost of support for the good work already happening at the local level in Hinds County. This is the first step in our commitment to being an active community member and we look forward to continuing this involvement for many years to come.”

The eight organizations receiving funding from the program include:

  • Central Hinds Academy
  • Hinds County Community College Foundation
  • Hinds County Livestock Association
  • Jackson Leadership Foundation
  • Jackson State University
  • Midtown Partners
  • Raymond Fire Department
  • Riverside Collective

A $5,000 grant award to Central Hinds Academy will provide supplies for the elementary school science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) lab and the high school biology lab.

“The grant from Apex will help both our high school and elementary science programs purchase items that will give our students hands-on experiences to enrich their classroom environment and more fully engage them in the learning process,” said Central Hinds Academy STEM teacher Mary Vickers. “We are excited by this partnership and look forward to future learning experiences at their Soul City Solar project!”

Additional funding to help educate and train the next generation of workers for clean energy and other STEM careers will come through the new Soul City Solar Scholarship. This partnership with the Hinds Community College Foundation will support local students interested in pursuing electrical, engineering, mechanical, and other STEM-related fields. Matthew Jones, Executive Director of the Hinds Community College Foundation, explained the significance of the new scholarship program.

"With Mississippi's workforce experiencing record levels of growth and new ventures like Soul City Solar coming to the state, we're excited to partner with Apex Clean Energy to create new pathways for students in a career or technical track at Hinds Community College! The new Soul City Solar Scholarship Fund will assist the selected students on their journey to joining Mississippi's workforce of the future," said Jones.    

Up to three $2,000 scholarships will be awarded to qualified students attending Hinds Community College this fall through a $6,000 Soul City Solar community grant. Interested students can learn more at

To support local agricultural education, the Hinds County Livestock Association has received a $7,500 community grant to support extension service events and 4-H programing.

“We are truly appreciative to the entire Soul City Solar team for supporting agricultural education through this grant to the Hinds County Livestock Association,” said extension agent Lurlinda Soignier. “These funds will help support animal science projects and competitions for Hinds County students as they showcase their knowledge and skills at events throughout the year.”

Jackson Leadership Foundation was awarded $1,500 to support their Hope Exchange workforce development program.

"Hope Exchange Ministry's workforce development arm helps people get on a pathway toward living-wage employment. We want people to use and develop the gifts they were born with to better support themselves and their families. In addition, we want them to experience healing in the foundational relationships that will stabilize their progress. We are thrilled to partner with Apex in this way and excited to see how these grant funds will provide a needed boost to our work," said Hope Exchange program director Levi Gill.

A $10,000 award to Jackson State University (JSU) will be used to support programs at the university’s Blackburn Learning Garden. The garden is an extension of a collaboration between the College of Education and Human Development, Blackburn Middle School, and the West Jackson Community.

“JSU strives to be a good neighbor and our partnership with Blackburn Middle School is extremely important to us. The JSU/Blackburn Learning Garden began over seven years ago and together we were able to transform two vacant lots into a beautiful learning garden,” said JSU Director of Community Engagement Heather Denne. “With the investment from Apex Clean Energy through the Soul City Solar grant we are going to be able to offer more programs and educational activities, support ongoing maintenance, and continue holding annual events like the upcoming Student-Led Farmer's Market on May 17. We are thankful for this investment in JSU and the entire West Jackson community.”

Upgrades to a community learning garden by Midtown Partners will be supported by a $2,000 grant from the Grant Program, helping to sustainably improve irrigation and reduce overall water use.

“We are truly appreciative of this support from Apex,” said Jina Daniels, Creative Economy Coordinator with Midtown Partners. “The Community Grant will enable us to install a rainwater harvesting system in our learning garden to serve as a platform for environmental education and stewardship as part of an overarching Farm to Community Initiative aimed at building food sovereignty and community resiliency by farming underutilized urban land in the Midtown community.”

A $5,000 grant from the program will support important security improvements at the Raymond fire station by upgrading to keyless entry. Assistant Fire Chief Andrew Arthur described what the grant will mean for the department.

“We would like to thank Apex Clean Energy and the Soul City Solar project for partnering with the Raymond Volunteer Fire Department. The funds will be used to install an access control system to strengthen the physical security at the fire station,” said Arthur.

A $3,000 grant to Riverside Collective will help to fund the installation of an energy efficient heat pump for their new community coffeehouse in Jackson.

“Riverside Collective's student entrepreneurship program and upcoming worker-owned coffeehouse aspire to build an ethical economy in harmony with our environment. With the support of Soul City Solar, we can install a heat pump and launch a community garden at our South Jackson location. Riverside is excited to be a part of a just energy transition that uplifts our neighborhood,” said co-founder Vilas Annavarapu.

Soul City Solar will continue accepting community grant applications on a rolling basis and will open additional funding cycles in the future. The project, which represents a capital investment of over $700 million, will also support the Hinds County economy through new construction jobs and local contractor spending; by generating a new source of income for area farmers and landowners; and through more than $150 million of new property tax revenue that will be generated by the project, making it one of Hinds County’s largest taxpayers.

To learn more about the project, or apply for a future grant, visit