Chemical modification of (semi)conducting surfaces with soft-material coatings containing electrocatalysts provides a strategy for developing integrated constructs that capture, convert, and store solar energy as fuels. However, a lack of effective strategies for interfacing electrocatalysts with solid-state materials, and an incomplete understanding of performance limiting factors, inhibit further development. In this work, chemical modification of a nanostructured transparent conductive oxide, and the III-V semiconductor, gallium phosphide, is achieved by applying a thin-film polymer coating containing appropriate functional groups to direct, template, and assemble molecular cobalt catalysts for activating fuel-forming reactions. The heterogeneous-homogeneous conducting assemblies enable comparisons of the structural and electrochemical properties of these materials with their homogeneous electrocatalytic counterparts. For these hybrid constructs, rational design of the local soft-material environment yields a nearly one-volt span in the redox chemistry of the cobalt metal centers. Further, assessment of the interplay between light absorption, charge transfer, and catalytic activity in studies involving molecular-catalyst-modified semiconductors affords models to describe the rates of photoelectrosynthetic fuel production as a function of the steady-state concentration of catalysts present in their activated form. These models provide a conceptual framework for extracting kinetic and thermodynamic benchmarking parameters. Finally, investigation of molecular ‘proton wires’ inspired by the Tyrosine Z-Histidine 190 redox pair in Photosystem II, provides insight into fundamental principles governing proton-coupled electron transfer, a process essential to all fuel-forming reactions relevant to solar fuel generation.