About us

Collaboration for Community-Driven Development

Our vision

Grow self-sufficient economies using appropriate technologies that improve the quality of life.


Our mission

We collaborate with local communities to design technologies and programs to alleviate poverty.

Our principles

Collaboration inspires creative new solutions and multiplies our impact. In the communities we serve, volunteers work hand-in-hand with local citizens, growing an international alliance for green solutions.

A simple solar light means children studying, women weaving (earning money), and community leaders who can more easily meet to make plans.

Great ideas come from anywhere, not just those with fancy engineering degrees. We welcome anyone with heart and hustle to join us.

Our collaborative believes the best tech has the power to inspire while also being wildly affordable and environmentally sustainable.

Participation inspires ownership, creating real, lasting change. Today’s struggling villager can become tomorrow’s empowered small business owner.

When women are empowered with economic opportunity,  whole communities can break out of poverty. Many of our projects are specifically tailored to engage and support women.

Our donors know exactly who is benefiting from our work via project documentation, signatures and photos from the field.


Our Approach

Since 2008, ATC has worked with engineering professionals and university students to design appropriate solutions to common development challenges.

Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our office is set in the midst of the tool library at Maker Works where we work with volunteer engineers to build and test new appropriate technologies.

Our community network in Guatemala provides an ideal test site for developing world contexts. We collaborate with community members to design, build and test new technologies and programs to suit their daily realities.

We share our designs open-source from our Design Library to empower grassroots organizations with appropriate, affordable solutions to development problems. Our designs have been downloaded 7,500 times with responses from communities in Papua New Guinea, India and 41 other countries.

In 2011, ATC began exploring solar power and wind power solutions to address Energy Poverty in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. Over the course of the following 6 years, Mayan Power and Light was born of community requests for solar power and high demand for job opportunities for the new generation of educated women.

ATC designed the Mayan Power and Light (MPL) program in direct partnership with local organizations and community representatives who informed our programs based on their experiences on the ground and participant feedback. Pilot projects naturally led us to design the innovative MPL program as it is today.

our partners

Our partners: corporate, funding, university and implementing partners from around the world

Corporate Partners

Because Success Is More than the Bottom Line 

Zingerman’s is a world-renowned community of food businesses located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Zingerman’s has supported ATC since 2010.

Business Connect is the water filter distributor for our Mayan Power and Light program.  Their mission is to provide citizens living in the Global South with affordable and easy access to clean water through the creation of a sustainable, local business model.

Doña Dora is a Guatemala-based social business that supplies all the clean cookstoves distributed through our Mayan Power and Light Program.

Academic Partners

Engaging Universities to Harness the Ingenuity and Energy of Youth

University of Michigan partnered with ATC in 2015 to design and test solar food dehydrators that are in use by cooperatives in Guatemala, in 2013 to design a bike-powered shredder for recycled plastics and in 2010 to design mobile medical examination tables for Project Mesa in Nicaragua.

Michigan State University, from 2008-2009 we designed and built a solar vaccine refrigerator.  This senior design project was used in India and is estimated to have saved over a million lives.  This design received the Edison Prize in 2009.  
With two groups of students from University of James Madison, we installed solar power on an un-electrified school in 2017 and a community center in 2018.

University of Mount Union installed solar power on a school and built a low cost house out of bamboo and other natural materials.  
SUNY Oneata, Department of Limnology worked with us to assess an aquaculture project and at a permaculture community on the Lake Atitlan watershed. 

Rutgers University Engineers Without Borders  worked with ATC from 2012- 2014 to design and build a water supply system for Nueva Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan, a village of 4,500 people. 

School of the Art Institute of Chicago helped design solar LED lights in 2012.

Implementing Partners

Working Hand-in-Hand to Pool Resources

Asociación para la Educación e Investigación para el Desarrollo Integral Sostenible, from 2014 - 2020 AEIDS  has served as our principal partners for operations in Guatemala. Dedicated to research and education for sustainable development, AEIDS served as a platform to test our technologies and programs in Guatemala. Our cooperation with AEIDS led to formalizing the Mayan Power and Light program as an independent non profit organization. 

Soluciones Energéticas Apropiadas (SEA) Since 2013, SEA is Mayan power and light’s first solar business and lead partner to educate the public and install solar power in rural communities. 

Finca La Florida A permaculture farming cooperative near Colomba, Quetzaltenango where over 45 families produce natural food in the region, yet remain in precarious economic conditions. 2016 Solar Center at their community building carried over to 40 households obtaining solar power at home.  

Cooperativa Kuxya A permaculture cooperative near San Lucas Toliman, Solola, is run by 22 young mayan farmers. They have a permaculture demonstration center featuring appropriate technologies - including our solar dehydrators. 

Ecologic Development Fund empowers rural indigenous people to restore and protect tropical ecosystems in Central America and Mexico.

Entremundos supports organizations addressing poverty and human rights, transforming them into multiplying agents for sustainable development.

Comite Campesino del Altiplano  organizes campesinos as agents of development, promoting human rights and socially responsible business.

The Black Caucus Foundation of Detroit MI and The Boys and Girls Clubs of Highland Park MI hosted ATC for solar energy and circuit classes as part of ATC’s emerging Detroit Solar program.


Lasting Relationships with Passionate Supporters

IEEE Foundation supports programs that improve access to technology, enhance technological literacy, and support technical education. 

Rotary International provided the crucial financial support for ATC to launch the Mayan Power and Light Essential Technology and Social Ventures program in Guatemala.

The Blossom Fund supports economic justice for women, among other focus areas.  They provide operating expense support for the Mayan Power and Light programs.

The Anne and Charles Lindbergh Foundation supports organizations that balance technology and the environment. They helped launch the ATC Solar LED Light Initiative in 2008.

The Clif Bar Family Foundation supports projects that protect Earth's beauty and bounty. They funded ATC solar education classes for students at the University of Michigan and CECAP in Guatemala.

Our history


We have a long time commitment to John and this organization and to John's family who has so strongly supported him in this work. Also and very importantly the justice focus of this work along with the very creative use of technology and linking it all to oppressed people in the third world as well as here in the U.S./Detroit. One can't find many giving opportunities as "right-on" as this one.