On Prince's birthday, you can remember him for his solar energy startups

His musical legacy is not the only one Prince left

If he was still alive, Prince would be marking his 59th birthday Wednesday.

And while his long-lasting impact on the music world has been well documented, there's another part of the superstar's legacy that we're still learning about. A lot of solar energy startup companies in Silicon Valley owe their existence to Prince's philanthropy.

A piece published by Bloomberg Tuesday looks at a business incubator in Oakland that was started with money donated by Prince. Powerhouse began matching solar energy entrepreneurs with investors in 2013. Since then, their website says, they've hosted 43 solar startups that have generated $52 million in revenue.

He kept his donations a secret

It was Prince's friend Van Jones who described a 2011 conversation in which Prince asked how he could put his money to good use. Jones tells Bloomberg he and his wife suggested trying to cover Oakland with solar panels.

Jones is the founder of Green For All and was once a green jobs adviser to President Barack Obama.

Most people were unaware of the Purple One's penchant for green philanthropy until Jones talked about it on CNN after Prince's death last year.

"He did not want it be known publicly, and he did not want us to say it. But I'm gonna say it because the world needs to know that it wasn't just the music," Jones said.

He told USA Today it was also Prince who insisted on launching the #YesWeCode campaign, which works to give kids from low-income families the skills to get a tech job.

According to Jones, it was his commitment to humility – one of the tenants of the Jehovah's Witness faith – that kept Prince from talking publicly about the causes he supported. But he says Prince sometimes arranged concerts in Oakland as "cover" for a visit to see how the projects he was funding there were doing.

Because he was secretive about his giving, no one knows how much Prince contributed to causes like solar energy. Based on anecdotes, the website Good puts it at $25 million.

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