Supporting learning and education is one of the main pillars of how we make an impact at Invenergy. From attending local elementary school career fairs, to donating over $900,000 to educational causes in 2022, we have a holistic approach to supporting students where we develop, work, and operate. The Polsky Foundation, founded by Michael Polsky, Invenergy’s founder and CEO, also views education as imperative to its mission. The Polsky Foundation has a long history of supporting youth programs that foster the development of science, technology, and entrepreneurship skills. In light of this common mission, Invenergy and the Polsky Foundation will invest over $1.75 million to the University of Chicago to create two unique summer programs in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for high school students focused on innovation and climate and energy topics.
Over the next five years, students with a passion for sustainability and the energy industry will be selected to engage in one of two programs facilitated by UChicago and MIT. The first of these programs, the Young Innovators Program (YIP), partners with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to inspire and prepare high school students to pursue careers in innovation and entrepreneurship through experiential learning, mentorship, and connection with a peer support network. The second of these programs is the Young Innovators Climate and Energy Summer program (YICES), where high school students focus on tackling climate and energy topics and learn from Invenergy experts in the industry.
“It is vital that young people today develop the ability to think innovatively as entrepreneurs. In my nearly forty years as a serial entrepreneur, a commitment to relentless innovation has always been a guiding principle for my companies as we continue to lead the clean energy transition," says Michael Polsky, Invenergy's founder and CEO. "The Young Innovators Program is a fantastic learning ground that equips students with the skills necessary to meet tomorrow’s most consequential challenges.”
During the first iteration of these programs in July 2023, 61 Invenergy/Polsky Scholars traveled from 17 different states to spend a week at the University of Chicago’s campus. Invenergy/Polsky Scholars had the opportunity to experience fun things in the city like Second City Comedy Club and the Chicago Architecture Boat Tour. Students in YIP had the opportunity to learn about innovation and entrepreneurship from professors in UChicago’s Booth School of business and had the opportunity to participate in a virtual fireside chat with Michael Polsky. Students in the YICES program attended courses covering everything from environmental policy to social sector innovation. Invenergy Scholars from both programs met with representatives from MIT and UChicago to learn more about the college admissions process.
Students from both programs visited the Invenergy headquarters located the Chicago Loop to hear from our employees who are experts in the industry. Throughout the program, students attending YIP met with mentors from Invenergy to brainstorm innovative solutions to climate related issues and at the culmination of the program, a final pitch showcase was held to present each team’s recommendation. During the YIP program, students heard from a panel of Invenergy employees from across the organization, including the development, origination, and engineering teams, as well as a representative from Reactivate. The panel discussed a wide range of topics in response to student questions, such as project siting, environmental permitting, project financing, and offtake agreements.
“I truly had the best days of my summer interacting with like-minded people and learning all about climate, energy, and sustainability," says Ani Apresyan, one of the program's participants. "The lectures were all amazing, and I’m even planning to use my notes from the past week to improve the non-profit I work at right now."
With the success of this year’s iteration of YIP and YICES, we look forward to providing more opportunities for students to problem solve against climate-related issues and envision their own future careers in the clean energy industry.
To learn more about the YIP and YICES, check out the University of Chicago feature on the programs below.