The Ritz Herald
Girl draws by light of her new solar lamp. © Heart of America

A Unique Mix Of Partners Collaborate With The Navajo Nation During COVID-19 Pandemic

Multi-pronged response effort focuses on critical learning & safety supplies

Published on May 10, 2020

Studies indicate that acute stress may remind us of our common humanity and that understanding our shared vulnerability can inspire kindness, connection, and a desire to support each other. This desire to support others is the driving force behind a new and growing mix of partners brought together by humanitarian and Navajo Nation tribal member Mylo Fowler. Partners include Heart of America, Swinerton Renewable Energy, Real Salt Lake Foundation (RSL), JinkoSolar Inc., Angel Flight West, and others.

As one of the top three hot spots per-capita for COVID-19 cases in the country, the Navajo Nation is faced with myriad challenges – including education, as school closures have pushed learning from the classroom to the home, where electricity and school supplies are sparse. These partners are banding together to support Navajo Nation families at this difficult time.

Multi-pronged response

Critical supplies

Heart of America, Swinerton Renewable Energy, Real Salt Lake Foundation, and Goal Zero are providing a learning-from-home kit that will provide a lifeline to more than 1,400 students and their families. Each kit will include solar lanterns, books, school supplies, art materials, and STEM learning kits – all of which are designed to make distance learning possible.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

The world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels, JinkoSolar Inc., has joined the effort to provide 50,000 masks to students, families, and area medical facilities. Pilots of Angel Flight West – Utah Wing began delivering the PPE via aircraft on April 27 and will continue to support the next phases of resource distribution through the summer.

Additional supporting partners include Construction Innovations, Blymyer Engineers, Goal Zero, Shugar Magic Foundation, Strategic Energy Innovations, Elite Team Offices, and SunGrow.

Solar batteries & tech devices

Beyond the distribution of these learning-from-home kits, as an extension of the “Light the Res” pilot partnership between Real Salt Lake Foundation, Goal Zero and Heart of America, there is a significant effort underway to donate technology tools, in the form of 1:1 devices, WiFi hotspots, and Goal Zero home solar batteries, that can power a small home for several days. The partners plan to continue this work into 2021 with the additional support of Swinerton Renewable Energy as a fourth contributing partner.

Kit assembly event: April 30, 2020

In partnership with the San Juan School District, Fowler will work alongside 20 volunteers from Real Salt Lake Foundation, the Utah Division of Indian Affairs, and Utah medical students to assemble kits for Navajo students at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, UT on Thursday, April 30. More than 1,400 students on the reservation, pre-k through grade 12, will receive a grade-level learning-from-home kit with books, STEM materials, a solar lantern, art supplies and a coronavirus packet with information, hand sanitizer and two or more masks.

Beginning May 1, Real Salt Lake Foundation and Fowler will transport the home-schooling kits to the school district on the reservation where they will be given to students using existing infrastructure for school lunch distribution. The first phase will reach students of eight area schools on the Navajo Reservation and subsequent phases will serve Navajo Nation schools in Arizona and New Mexico as well as members of the Hopi Reservation within the Navajo Reservation. Angel Flight West will continue to support this effort by delivering kits into remote areas of the reservation.

Collaborative impact

“This unique collaboration has expanded our ongoing work with Mylo Fowler, RSL, and Goal Zero to light the reservation. This effort will support distance learning for schoolchildren while providing PPE, solar lighting, and technology devices that will benefit multiple generations of Navajo Nation residents.” – Jill Heath, President and CEO, Heart of America Foundation

“Now is the time to work together in support of those uniquely impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Distance learning poses specific challenges to Navajo communities, where many live without access to the grid or reliable internet. Our partners have shown tremendous generosity in their support of this program, which will provide students with resources they need to continue learning and to stay connected through this isolating time.”  – Jennifer Hershman, Swinerton Renewable Energy

“Character is made clear during these unprecedented times as unlikely partners step together to respond to the needs on the ground from the Navajo people. Working with Heart of America’s resources and expertise in guided project execution has been critical in this new and changing environment.” – Mary VanMinde, Real Salt Lake Foundation

Visit to learn more about this collaboration and how to get involved.

Executive Editor