Reactivate Launches Workforce Training Program to Build Equity in Solar Training
Training the Future of Renewable Energy
CHICAGO, March 1, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Reactivate is thrilled to partner with GRID Alternatives (GRID), Solar Energy International (SEI), Jobs for the Future (JFF) and local partners Elevate and Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County (CEDA) on the implementation of a nationwide equitable workforce training program, Building Equity in Solar Training™. B.E.S.T. is a national program that will provide skills-based training and certifications needed for a successful career in the solar, energy storage and EV charging sectors by responding to industry demands.
The renewables industry is forecasted to grow to over one million jobs by 2030. B.E.S.T. is deliberately crafted to address that need with a focus on equity and job training for individuals from communities that have historically been underrepresented in industries that are advancing the country's transition to solar and other types of renewable energy. B.E.S.T. directly supports this critical work by providing resources to individuals and communities and working with employers to ensure job placement in the industry post-training, thus helping to make the renewable energy workforce more reflective of U.S. demographics. B.E.S.T.'s goal is to create more than jobs, but also to launch sustainable careers with family sustaining wages.
"Utopia Hill and the Reactivate team spearheaded and sourced several organizations to put this project together that will start in Chicago and spread to other cities across the country," said Adewale OgunBadejo, Vice President of Workforce Development at GRID Alternatives. "We're very excited to partner with an organization like Reactivate on the developer side that shares a similar vision with GRID in terms of making investments in traditionally underserved communities."
B.E.S.T. is an outcomes-based workforce training program that places great importance on quality and a commitment to an equity-driven model. This process includes working with local partners such as Elevate to ensure that individuals from underserved or disadvantaged populations or communities have the support they need to enroll, complete training, enter a career with family sustaining wages, and overcome any barriers they may face. This support includes paid training, tutoring, transportation assistance, childcare assistance, and case management among other services. Trainees to the program include women, members of the BIPOC community, justice-involved individuals, and individuals from energy transition communities.
The curriculum was designed and created in partnership with experienced solar curriculum facilitators GRID, SEI, and JFF a nationally recognized workforce training and curriculum facilitator. B.E.S.T. uses a mix of well-tested industry trainings developed to provide multiple certifications such as the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Installer Certification, OSHA 30, First Aid/CPR, as well as operator training, general building trades training, and customized content tailored both to occupational demand and to the needs of the target populations (e.g., those whose primary language is Spanish). There is also an emphasis in the curriculum on essential skills such as leadership development, problem-solving, teamwork, and a high work ethic. The program utilizes a mix of classroom training and hands-on training approaches, which Reactivate views as critical to ensuring trainees are ready to enter the solar workforce upon graduation from the program.
"SEI is very excited to be part of this program. We were honored to have been invited to share our 30+ years of providing industry leading solar training and curriculum development in support of this initiative," said Chris Turek, Vice President of Business Development for Solar Energy International. "As the clean energy economy grows, it is critical that we ensure a diverse and equitable workforce shape the future of the solar industry. The partners that have been brought together by Utopia Hill and Reactivate are a dream team of subject matter experts around workforce development with a deep history in serving traditionally underserved communities. SEI is committed to growing the talent pipeline to employers and the B.E.S.T. model of programming is shaping up to be a transformative example for the industry."
Reactivate, in collaboration with JFF, GRID, and SEI, as well as local implementation partners Elevate and CEDA of Cook County, are currently running the B.E.S.T. program in the Chicagoland area. The first cohort of individuals entered a sixteen-week program in February 2023 with an expected graduation in June 2023. A new hands-on training lab sponsored by Reactivate was built at the CEDA facility where trainees can apply their skills in an environment optimized for practical learning. During the program trainees will have the opportunity to meet with several employers including those working on Reactivate's portfolio of community solar projects in the Chicagoland area.
"We all understand the importance of a transition to renewable energy to meet our climate goals. Those goals can only be accomplished if we provide opportunities and equitable training to everyone, especially those who have historically been underrepresented in this sector," said Utopia Hill, CEO of Reactivate. "The teams at CEDA, Elevate, GRID, SEI, and JFF are all aligned with Reactivate on this mission and are determined to ensure the long-term success of our trainees. This program is the direct avenue to achieve Reactivate's goal of facilitating workforce training for 2,500 underserved workers by 2030, and we look forward to expanding this program in new markets across the US."
Reactivate, a JV powered by Lafayette Square and Invenergy, is a renewable energy company that 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 primary focus areas are community solar, small-scale utility, and next generation projects. Reactivate seeks to create 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 American workforce and education 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.