Navajo Solar Lights

Bringing solar powered lighting to at-risk populations on the Navajo Reservation.


The Navajo Solar Light Project is a program that brings solar powered lighting to at-risk populations on the Navajo Reservation, including elders over 70 years old. The project was initiated by the Rotary Club of Durango Daybreak by Joe Williams.

The Navajo Nation, bigger than the state of West Virginia, sprawls across Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. It is a harsh but beautiful land.

Over 15,000 Navajo homes don’t have access to electricity. Nearly a third have no running water, and more than half lack kitchen and toilet facilities.

A solar panel the size of a baking sheet mounts onto a roof with a pole. A wire runs from the panel into the house where up to three rechargeable lights hang from hooks on the ceiling. To turn on the lights, the resident need only touch a button. The light can be detached and used as a flashlight for going outside at night. The kit includes a charging outlet for cell phones which enhances the resident’s safety and contact with family. Each solar light kit costs about $300.

The impact of the COVID pandemic on Navajo children has been significant. Children have been out of school and many lack reliable internet for access to online education.

Chinle Plants Hope (CPH) is a project that can take the Navajo Solar Lights Project to a new level, offer significant assistance to the Navajo people and meet the challenges of Covid. It is a community-based program that is also being supported by the Durango Daybreak (CO) and Glenwood Springs (AZ) Rotary Clubs.

This project will expand the reading and learning opportunities for both the children and the community of Chinle, Arizona.

Now, and for the past 9 years, Rotarians led by the Rotary Club of Durango Daybreak have teamed with the Navajo Nation to bring solar lights to remote, off-the-grid homes on the country’s largest Native American reservation. Volunteers from all over the United States have not only pitched-in to make solar light a reality to Navajo residents but have had the opportunity to sample regional food and learn about a vastly different culture. Among the Rotary Clubs that have supported this project are:

  • The Rotary eClub of the State of Jefferson
  • Durango High Noon Rotary Club (CO)
  • The Rotary Club of Eugene Airport (OR)
  • Boise Rotary Club (ID)
  • Denver Rotary Club (CO)
  • Rotary Club of the Caldwells (NJ)
  • Rotary Club of Five Points (SC)

In addition, an important part of the project has been to involve local Interact Clubs and Youth Exchange students.