Reactivate Celebrates Graduation of Inaugural B.E.S.T. Cohort: Empowering 12 Individuals from the Chicagoland Area in Solar Workforce Training
CHICAGO, June 14, 2023 --Reactivate, a mission-driven renewable energy company, celebrated the graduation of its first cohort from the Building Equity in Solar Training™ (B.E.S.T.) program on Friday, June 9th. This significant milestone signifies the successful completion of a sixteen-week hands-on training program for 12 individuals from the Chicagoland area, with a 100% completion rate. The program has equipped graduates with the necessary skills and certifications for a career in solar energy installation and the general building trades. The graduation ceremony brought together partners, community leaders, and industry professionals to acknowledge the graduates 'achievements and highlight the program's commitment to equity and job placement.
“This was once-in-a-lifetime occurrence for me, as I never imagined an opportunity like this would come my way. It took me 39 years, but I found my calling with solar," expressed Lance G., a graduate of the B.E.S.T. program. "This program has brought me so much joy and helped me find something I can be passionate about. It's not just a job; it's a career I want to share with others. Today, we hold various certifications that make us more marketable than ever, and I know I’m prepared for whatever life has in store for me next."
B.E.S.T. stands out by integrating standardized skills training, certifications, equity commitments, and support services to revolutionize the renewable energy sector. Reactivate launched the program in February 2023 in partnership with GRID Alternatives, Solar Energy International, Jobs for the Future, and local partners Elevate and Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County (CEDA). B.E.S.T. offers comprehensive training in solar energy installation and the building trades, encompassing various skills such as solar photovoltaic system installation, OSHA 30certification, hands-on experience, NABCEP preparation and exam, powered industrial vehicle training, as well as essential skills development in leadership, teamwork, financial literacy, and workplace etiquette.
Addressing the audience, Shuron W., graduate of the B.E.S.T. program expressed gratitude, saying, "You have given us an incredible opportunity that we did not take lightly. Your passion for solar has given us a whole new perspective, and we now understand that solar is the future. Regardless of the path each of us chooses in the solar industry - whether it's becoming pro-installers, researchers, electricians, instructors, inspectors, or sales consultants - we are now equipped and prepared for the present and future that revolves around solar." She emphasized the significance of the achievement and extended appreciation to all those who played a role in shaping their journey.
B.E.S.T. provides wraparound support services to ensure the success of its participants. The program offers paid training with materials provided, assistance with transportation and childcare, dedicated tutoring and counseling, bilingual support (English/Spanish), and guidance with job placement and transitioning to apprenticeships. The program’s commitment to equity extends to individuals without a high school degree and justice individuals, as they are also offered enrollment options in the program. B.E.S.T. provides access to free computers and Wi-Fi hotspots, ensuring that all participants have the necessary resources to thrive.
The graduation ceremony also featured teachers testimonials by Steve Marchese, Director of Training and Development at CEDA, and James McKinney, Technical Instructor at CEDA, who praised the dedication and commitment of the graduates. The keynote was delivered by Utopia Hill, CEO of Reactivate, emphasizing the importance of addressing environmental justice, inclusivity, and the future of renewable energy careers. Hill highlighted the ecological crisis and the opportunity it presents to create a more equitable and sustainable world by embracing principles of environmental justice, inclusivity, and empowering marginalized communities. The keynote called for unity and action IN transitioning to renewable energy as a beacon of hope for mitigating the climate crisis and fostering economic growth.
“Graduates, this is your call to action. Its about recognizing the impacts of pollution, climate change and environmental degradation disproportionately affect marginalized communities,” said, Utopia Hill. “Let us be the driver of change and let your actions be the embodiment of hope. Inclusive environmentalism recognizes the interconnectedness of social justice and environmental issues and acknowledges that a just transition to a sustainable future must also be must also be a just transition for all.”
“Jobs for the Future is working to ensure that people from communities that have disproportionately felt the negative effects of the carbon-based economy will have access to employment and wealth-building opportunities in the green economy," said Brianne McDonough, Director of Career and Learning Pathways. "Designed for equity B.E.S.T. aligns opportunities to high-demand pathways in the green jobs sectors in solar installation, EV charging and energy. The strength of this program demonstrates the need to expand the program nationally to create an accelerated pathway for learners and workers to gain skills in clean energy.”
Reactivate is actively collaborating with its partners to secure additional funding sources and aims to scale the B.E.S.T. program nationwide. The goal is to offer year-round cohorts that will empower thousands of individuals across the country with the skills and opportunities for prosperous careers in the renewable energy industry. To get involved or donate, visit our website and submit an inquiry form. https://www.reactivate.com/get-in-touch
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Reactivate, a mission-driven renewable energy company, founded by Invenergy and Lafayette Square, develops, owns, and operates renewable energy projects to improve the lives of people in low-to-moderate income and energy transition communities across the country. Reactivate’s primarily focus areas are community solar, small-scale utility, and next generation projects. Reactivate creates positive social and environmental impact in underserved communities by delivering renewable energy, environmental benefits, job opportunities, energy cost savings and opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses. Learn more about Reactivate by visiting www.reactivate.com.
About GRID Alternatives
Renewable energy can drive economic growth and environmental benefits in communities most impacted by underemployment, pollution and climate change. GRID Alternatives is a leader in helping economic and environmental justice communities get clean, affordable renewable energy, transportation, and jobs. Internationally, our energy access work is lighting up off-grid communities in Nepal, Nicaragua, Mexico, and with Tribal Nations and communities. GRID envisions a rapid, equitable transition to a world powered by renewable energy that benefits everyone. For more information, visit www.gridalternatives.org.
About Solar Energy International
Solar Energy International (SEI) empowers students, alumni, and partners to expand a diverse, inclusive, well-trained and educated solar electricity workforce. Our aim is to promote sustainable economic growth, mitigate climate change, and support energy independence. For more information, visit https://www.solarenergy.org.
About Jobs for the Future
Jobs for the Future (JFF) drives transformation of the U.S. education and workforce systems to achieve equitable economic advancement for all. As part of this mission, JFF strives to serve those most impacted by future climate change – including creating opportunities for upskilling and creating pipelines to diversify the climate workforce. For more information visit www.jff.org .
Elevate is a nonprofit organization that works nationally and is headquartered in Chicago. Elevate designs and implements programs to ensure that everyone has clean and affordable heat, power, and water in their homes and communities —no matter who they are or where they live. For more information, visit www.Elevatenp.org.
About Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County
The Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, Inc. (CEDA) is one of the largest private, nonprofit Community Action Agencies in the country, serving residents throughout Cook County, Illinois. CEDA seeks to empower individuals, families, and communities facing poverty to secure a better quality of life. For more information, please visit www.cedaorg.net.