Launch of Light a Village Program



August 16, 2017

The Global BrightLight Foundation (GBL) is excited to announce the launch of its new Light a Village (LAV) program! The goal of the Light a Village program is to provide solar energy to every family living in a rural village without access to electricity.

GBL worked closely with its local partner Amigos de la Aldea (ADLA) in Guatemala to develop the program. This inclusive approach to rural electrification directly addresses the largest barrier to expanding access to solar energy: affordability. There are over 1 billion people living without access to electricity worldwide and many people in rural villages lack the ability to purchase even a basic solar lantern. Light a Village will provide solar energy to these communities, one village at a time.

“The Light a Village model is a holistic approach to helping vulnerable communities take the first step out of energy poverty by displacing the use of candles, kerosene, and batteries,” said Ben Bunker, CEO of GBL. “We estimate that there are 12,000 villages in Guatemala and 16,000 villages in Peru with little or no access to electricity. Our goal is to reach 7,000 (or 25%) of them by 2025 with the Light a Village program.”

Contributions from generous donors like you will enable GBL and ADLA to lower the cost of solar systems to the point where they are truly affordable to every family in a village. The families will still be required to contribute at least 25% of the cost of the systems. This creates a sense of ownership, which in turn supports the long-term sustainability of the project.  



“Bringing solar lanterns to a rural community is not just about bringing light,” said Miguel Sagastume, founder of ADLA. “It represents a package of economic savings, health, safety, and environmental benefits. This little light brings true hope and big change.”

Once a project is fully funded, GBL and ADLA visit the village to install the systems and hold a Light Up Celebration with the community to turn on the solar lights. Donors receive a report for every project they fund that includes key impact metrics, testimonials, a map that shows the project location, and photos and a video from the Light Up Celebration.

Our first successful Light a Village project in Agua Dulce in Guatemala!

“Our new Light a Village donor report and individual village project pages will connect people to the impact they are making in the lives of people living in rural villages like never before,” said Bunker. “We want people to be inspired to share with their friends and family how A Little Power Makes a World of Difference.”

Visit the Light a Village page to learn more:

Our Commitment to Transparency

GBL Earns Guidestar Platinum for Nonprofit Transparency

July 27, 2017

The Global BrightLight Foundation (GBL) is pleased to announce that it has earned the Platinum award from Guidestar, the world’s leading evaluator of nonprofit transparency. There are four levels of recognition available to nonprofits from GuideStar: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Each level represents a progressively greater level of disclosure by the nonprofit. Nonprofits must submit information on their mission, organizational structure, financial performance, strategies, and impact metrics to GuideStar for consideration.

Only a small percentage of nonprofits receive Platinum status. The award reflects GBL’s commitment to transparency.

One of the requirements for the Platinum level is audited financial statements. GBL recently partnered with Wegner CPAs to complete an audit of its 2016 financials. The auditor found GBL’s financial disclosures to be neutral, consistent and clear. The audit also showed that GBL spent 78% of its funds in 2016 on program service related expenses.

One of the requirements for the Platinum level is audited financial statements. GBL recently partnered with Wegner CPAs to complete an audit of its 2016 financials. The auditor found GBL’s financial disclosures to be neutral, consistent and clear. The audit also showed that GBL spent 78% of its funds in 2016 on program service related expenses.

Global BrightLight Foundation’s GuideStar profile is available for review at:


Partnership with Slightly Stoopid

July 7, 2017

The Global BrightLight Foundation (GBL) has partnered with reggae music sensation Slightly Stoopid to provide solar energy to people living in Latin America who need it most. Slightly Stoopid  is auctioning off original artwork by Danielle Zirk from the band’s new music video “One Bright Day”:


“GBL is thrilled to partner with Slightly Stoopid to bring solar energy to people living without electricity in Latin America. The themes of light and hope in the song ‘One Bright Day’ reflect our vision of a world in which everyone has access to clean, sustainable energy,” said GBL CEO Ben Bunker.

The auction runs through August 1st. A gallery of the artwork available for bidding and links to press coverage are below.


Press Coverage:

OC Weekly (07/18/2017): “Slightly Stoopid Continue Jamming Along to the Sounds of Summer”
NBC 7 San Diego (07/08/2017): “Slightly Stoopid Auction Off Music Video Art”
Grateful Web (07/07/2017): “Slightly Stoopid release animated video”

Paulina Keilhauer

Since the mid-1990’s, Paulina Keilhauer has been involved in several benevolent causes in Guatemala and abroad from providing indigenous women weavers access to foreign markets to helping migrants become financially independent through the Qualitas of Life Foundation.  Currently, Paulina is President of the Fundación para Niños Quemados de Guatemala (Guatemala Burnt Children Foundation) which focuses on prevention of pediatric burns and raises funds to support the pediatric burn units at national hospitals.  Paulina also sits on the Board of the Ixchel Museum whose aim is to preserve the culture and tradition of Mayan textiles.  Paulina is an interior designer and resides with her family in Guatemala City.

Light a Village with Goldroom

May 7, 2017

Global BrightLight Foundation has partnered with LA-based DJ Goldroom to provide solar lanterns to every family in a rural village in Guatemala. Donors who contribute $25 or more will have a chance to win a VIP experience with Goldroom on his High Seas Boat Tour. Goldroom will also make a custom mix for one lucky donor.

You can learn more by visiting the fundraiser page at:


Launch of Illuminate Guatemala

On April 19th, 2017, Global BrightLight Foundation (GBL) in alliance with Amigos de la Aldea (ADLA) launched Illuminate Guatemala, a joint initiative to provide affordable and practical solar energy systems to the 3+ million Guatemalans currently living without access to electricity. GBL and ADLA plan to reach 250,000 households with solar energy by 2025.

GBL and ADLA held an event in Guatemala City to announce the launch of Illuminate Guatemala. In attendance were representatives from Guatemala’s leading print and online news publications and TV and radio stations. Attendees had the opportunity to view the virtual reality (VR) film ‘Amor de Abuela’, which is the first VR film shot entirely in Guatemala.

GBL’s CEO Ben Bunker commented, “In Guatemala, there are over three million people who do not have access to electricity or for whom electricity is simply too expensive. Our goal is to provide them with a practical, economic, and reliable solution. We are honored to work alongside our partner Amigos de la Aldea in this endeavor. We envision a future where thousands of communities are more prosperous, healthier, and more connected than ever before.”

Alongside Ben at the event was Miguel Sagastume, Director of Business Development for Greenlight Planet for Latin America. Greenlight Planet manufacturers the Sun King brand of solar lanterns and home systems that GBL has been distributing since it was founded in 2011. Miguel commented, “We are delighted to bring Sun King solar systems to communities in Guatemala. Our primary goal at Greenlight Planet is to end energy poverty through our broad portfolio of innovative products. We offer systems that everyone can afford.”

A short animated video about Illuminate Guatemala is below.

A Story of Love & Light

I first met Maria Ilse Lopez Quej last August in her modest home in Tampo Village in Northern Guatemala. She was sitting before a loom weaving a bright, beautiful huipil – a traditional Mayan blouse. She told me that each huipil takes three months to complete, a testament to the focus and passion that she dedicates to her work. Each huipil is more than a piece of clothing, it’s an intricate work of art.

Maria Ilse Lopez Quej

In addition to being a skilled weaver, Ilse is a community leader in her village. She told me about the issues facing her community, including that most families still lacked access to any form of electricity. During our conversation, she was surrounded by her extended family including her grandson Anderson and his friend Areli.

Anderson and Areli live only a few hundred feet from each other but their lives could not be more different. Anderson’s family had access to solar energy while Areli’s family still relied on candles. Ilse described how their family’s solar system was improving Anderson’s life and giving him the chance to grow up with light, unlike her own childhood which was filled with darkness. After hearing her story, I felt compelled to share it with the world.

Anderson Bin Botzoc

I’m honored to share Ilse’s story with you now through our virtual reality film ‘Amor de Abuela’ (‘A Grandmother’s Love’). The film was created with the support of Facebook and Oculus as part of their VR for Good program and screened at the Sundance and SXSW Film Festivals. It will also appear at the Festival de Cannes as part of the NextVR exhibit in May. As a virtual reality film, you’ll be able to travel to Guatemala without leaving your home. You’ll hear Ilse’s story of love and light just as I did, from her voice, in her home, and from her perspective.

You can watch ‘Amor de Abuela’ on your desktop computer on YouTube or Facebook using the latest version of the Chrome web browser or on your mobile phone using the YouTube or Facebook app. I encourage you to watch “Amor de Abuela” using a VR headset if you can to get the full experience. A link with instructions on how to do this is below.

Watch the Film!

Have a VR headset? Click here for instructions on how to watch the film.

Thanks to our generous donors, Areli’s family now has a solar system. I encourage you to share this beautiful story with your friends and family so we can change more lives.

Shine on,

Ben Bunker | CEO, Global BrightLight Foundation

P.S. You can also help spread the love by making a donation. Give from the heart now.

Instructions for Accessing Virtual Reality (VR)

Immersing yourself in virtual reality has never been easier and can be done by pairing any modern smartphone with a wide range of inexpensive headsets. Please follow the directions below for instructions on how to view Global BrightLight Foundation’s VR experiences:

  1. Remove any external cases on your phone so that it fits more snugly into the headset.
  2. Install the YouTube app on your mobile phone (if not already installed).
  3. On our homepage click on the headset icon:
  4. Choose from one of the three VR films tagged “360 VIDEO!”

    NOTE: Using a high speed wifi connection is highly recommended. Headphones are also recommended for the most immersive experience.
  5. Once you’ve started playing the video, turn your phone sideways and hit the button on the bottom right to enter VR mode.
  6. Insert the phone into the headset and enjoy! If necessary, additional instructions are included from the headset manufacturer.

Global BrightLight Foundation Premieres Virtual Reality Film at Sundance

VR film will be screened at Sundance as part of the Oculus from Facebook 360 for Good program.

Washington, DC (January 12, 2017) — On Sunday January 22, the Global BrightLight Foundation (GBL) will premiere a new virtual reality film as part of the Oculus from Facebook 360 for Good Bootcamp for Filmmakers and Nonprofits (“360 for Good”).

The 360 for Good program is part of Oculus’ larger VR for Good program and brings together ten filmmakers and ten nonprofits to tell impactful stories through virtual reality. As part of this program, GBL worked with filmmaker Jessie Hughes to create a new virtual reality short film showcasing GBL’s efforts to tackle energy poverty in Latin America. GBL has already produced three short virtual reality films that highlight the need for affordable and practical solar energy solutions.

“We are honored and excited to be a part of Oculus’ VR for Good program,” said Benjamin Bunker, CEO of the Global BrightLight Foundation.

“This is an incredible opportunity for us to show how solar energy is changing lives. The video was filmed in a small community near the town of Tac Tic, Alta Verapaz in the northern highlands of Guatemala. Many people in this community do not have access to electricity and those that do are subject to constant blackouts. This makes it almost impossible to perform every day activities after dark like studying, cooking, or spending time with family. With virtual reality technology, viewers will be able to truly experience how solar energy transforms the lives of families living without electricity,” said Bunker.

Founded in 2011, GBL has worked in nine different countries and deployed over 74,000 lamps, impacting the lives of 359,000 people. GBL is currently focusing its efforts in Guatemala and Peru, working in alliance with local not-for-profit Amigos de la Aldea.

Energy poverty (lack of access to electricity) is an issue facing more than 1 billion people. These people, who often live in rural farming communities, rely on expensive and sometimes dangerous energy sources to access power. They light their homes with candles, kerosene, or batteries – all low-quality fuels that are expensive, dangerous, and polluting. To charge a cell phone, their only form of communication beyond their village, they must also travel many hours, or even days, and pay someone for electricity.

Solar lanterns and solar home systems provide clean, high-quality lighting and cell phone charging capabilities at an affordable price. These products significantly increase the quality of life for families living in rural areas and provide economic, health, educational, and time-saving benefits. Solar energy is also good for the environment because it does not produce emissions that contribute to global climate change.

Said Bunker, “My hope is that this new film brings the need for practical and affordable solar energy solutions to the forefront and captures the impact that we are having on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the globe, one light at a time. We truly believe that a little bit of power makes a world of difference.”

Media Contact: 


John Stowell

Retired Vice President, Duke Energy

John Stowell is a retired executive from Duke Energy where he served in a number of executive positions, including leading the company’s government affairs, energy and environmental policy and international policy groups. The early work researching and designing the Global BrightLight Foundation was centered in his group, led by Global BrightLight’s current CEO, Ben Bunker.

Prior to the Duke Energy-Cinergy merger, John launched one of the electric industry’s first sustainability programs and, in its first year, Cinergy achieved listing on the Dow Jones World Sustainability Index.

In addition to serving on the board of directors for Global BrightLight, he is the communications director for SonLight Power, an Ohio-based charitable organization that installs fixed solar in the developing world. He also works as a free-lance writer for Cincinnati Magazine.