The Electric Monkeys: Cool Electric Cars for Everyone (CECE)

A non-profit organization to advance the learning and maker-spirit for DIY electric vehicle conversions.

Photo of Allie B.
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Website or social media url(s) (optional): The site is registered and hosted with content under development as the project progresses. The expected go-live is at the end of Summer, 2020.

Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

The problem is that we should not wait for the future adoption of more efficient cars to measure impact. We have to consider the “now” and near future. The impact we can have from new sales of electric cars needs to be matched with the high volume of aging cars and the limited means low-income earners will have for replacement. We need to promote an affordable and practical solution to address the millions of vehicles on the road today.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Our goal is to create an educational on-line resource to explain everything you need to know for converting a vehicle from a combustion engine to electric. We will use a 1972 VW bus as our example and provide detailed write-ups, photos, and videos of the process from beginning to end. We will develop all the educational resources to make it possible for virtually anyone to complete their own electric vehicle conversion. We hope our site will become a virtual club for projects around the world and a resource for all skill levels to ask questions and share knowledge. Our plan to solve the problem is to promote, enable, and directly contribute to the electric conversion of vehicles at our school, community, and beyond. Our site will be hosted at We will launch the site by September 2020.

3. Using STEM as a force of good: Please specify how are you using STEM to solve for an environmental challenge you are passionate about.

Although STEM provides the invention and innovation for solving environmental challenges, the full effect is only possible when people commit to change. This change can be very difficult to influence when it affects our daily lives and routines. Our use of transportation is among the most significant lifestyle routines with little room for compromise. Our project is about influencing people to make changes for the future. We are asking them to make a change that can benefit them and contribute to environmental sustainability.

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

We are committed to clean energy and the environment and 'dreamed up' this project to show our passion. We are certainly not experts on EV conversions but that's the point - if we can do it, anyone can. We know we can learn what we need. We know how hard we are willing to work. Here are some of our favorite inspirational stories: Race the Sun, loosely based on the true story of the Konawaena High School Solar Car Team Spare Parts (Book, Documentary, Movie) The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Book, Movie)

5. Video (Keep it simple, a video made on a hand-held phone is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

We have our first donor vehicle! This enabled us to complete the research and project planning to layout our approach and schedule. We’ve worked hard to develop the learning materials and step-by-step instructions to complete the installation. We have the specifications and costing for all parts and components. Our next step is to complete our first build this summer to produce all the supporting video content to complete the learning materials.

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Our project is not a technical innovation. It is intended to inspire a social movement that will have an environmental impact by bringing clean energy technology to application that can benefit anyone. Our goal is to break the boundaries of cost and complexity. To motivate students, car enthusiasts, and DIYers to take on a project.

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made?

How do we plan on making a difference? This is our vision for inspiring change. As the only vintage VW van in the area, it will attract attention. It travels daily to school. It’s parked at the grocery store where we work. It’s a team bus for an away game. It’s a fan bus for our home games. Everywhere it goes it leaves an impression. But the attention is not only for its famous styling and hippie surf culture. Then they see the motor is exposed by a panel of plexiglass. It’s electric! Who’s next?

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Phase 1: We have big plans for the next three months. Using the summer months when we have the most time to take on the toughest part of the project, we will complete the conversion of our 1971 VW Camper Bus. After this phase, we reach two key milestones: launching our website and forum; a fully functional electric vehicle for daily commuting Phase 2: Following the bus conversion, we will be completing the same for a classic pickup truck, resulting in two conversions to show proof of the possibilities. Our milestones will be: enhancing the website content; seed investment for our high school program to take on additional conversions. By the end of this year, we hope to have a thriving local and on-line community.

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

It’s not hard to appeal to teenagers when it comes to cars, especially if they are “cool”. But asking anyone to take responsibility for environmental sustainability is a difficult challenge. It’s often inconvenient. It’s often costly. It often requires a sacrifice. Our approach is to combine the appeal of cool cars with the benefit of an environmentally sustainable solution. In order to do this, we have to prove it. We have to do it. We have to show others that they can do it too.

11. Please share ideas of how you can partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

We hope our web site serves as a network for school clubs, youth groups, and other organizations. A community forum will enable us all to share stories, tips, and ask questions. We hope to sponsor conversion challenges, e.g. Rust Bucket Challenge; Farm Truck Revival; EV Jamboree. Lastly, we hope the success of the community motivates industry sponsors and experts to get involved.

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

Our initial strategy is to initiate a “Parking Lot to Planet” grassroots movement. We start local, we build one. We build another. This inspires more and more. A few becomes many. We hope our local impact becomes an example for others nationally and internationally. Following this approach the “buy-in” is earned and proven.

13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Ashoka page or contact

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 20%

Probably - 60%

Maybe - 20%

Probably not - 0%

No - 0%

2. CONNECTION to Environmental Sustainability

5 - Absolutely! It is totally clear that the solution is contributing directly to environmental sustainability and/or addressing climate change - 40%

4 — Yes, it establishes a connection to environment/ climate change but could be stronger - 40%

3 — Somewhat, the entry speaks to this environmental sustainability, but the direct impact is not well established - 20%

2 — Not really, the connection to environment/ climate is very weak - 0%

1 — No. The entry does not have a reference the solution’s impact on environment and/or climate change - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

3. Is this entry CREATIVE?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 60%

4 - Yes, I think so - 40%

3 - Maybe - 0%

2 - Probably not. - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Does this entry demonstrate a COMMITMENT to changemaking?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 100%

4 - Yes, I think so - 33.3%

3 - Maybe - 33.3%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Does this entry value CHANGEMAKING through collaboration with other stakeholders in its approach?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 20%

4 - Yes, I think so - 20%

3 - Maybe - 60%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

6. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 0%

4- Yes, I think so - 33.3%

3- Maybe - 66.7%

2- Probably not - 0%

1- No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: What are the strengths of this project?

CONNECTION: You have a great understanding and personal connection to the problem - 66.7%

CREATIVITY: You have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions to aid environmental sustainability/combat climate change - 66.7%

COMMITMENT: You have a thoughtful plan for growing your business, and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 100%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: You value thinking around how to activate other changemakers and empower them to care about your cause. You also have a clearly defined plan on how to collaborate across multiple stakeholders - 33.3%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 0%

VIABLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 33.3%

Other option - 0%

8. FEEDBACK: What are some areas for improvement for this project?

CONNECTION: Why you care about the environment/ climate was unclear – It would be great to elaborate on what this solution means to you, personally and how it affects you and/or your community. - 0%

CREATIVITY: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 0%

COMMITMENT: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 0%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming. How will they care about environment/climate if they currently do not? Think about how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 33.3%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 100%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 66.7%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 0%

Other option - 0%

Attachments (1)


Overview of project strategy and impact.


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Photo of parul sharma

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