Solar Gives Second Chances: Guest Post by Jose Ramos


April 03, 2017


Jose Ramos poses in a photo with some of the GRID community members; Jose attributes his employment success in solar to GRID
Jose Ramos (far left), who found work in solar, celebrates with (from left) David Andrade and Emerson Rivera on the GRID staff and Levi Ortega.

This year, we'll be dedicating our resources to provide additional training and workforce development services to individuals who have formerly been incarcerated. GRID Alternatives supports equity and second chances for all. We see the solar industry as a vehicle to open up opportunity for everyone, and in that spirit, we'll be highlighting success stories from returning citizens. Please support our efforts!

My name is Jose Ramos. I grew up in South L.A. during the height of the crack epidemic in the 80's. I also grew up in a gang infested neighborhood which set my future in motion. I eventually joined the gang at the age of twelve. I experienced a lot of things that a kid at that age should not have to experience. I quickly became addicted to the lifestyle, along with the abuse of drugs and alcohol.

At age thirteen, I caught my first criminal charge and was sentenced to serve time at California Youth Authority. When I got out, I was "the man." False respect and the wrong type of pride filled my life, and that pretty much was my life for the next thirteen years—until I caught my biggest charge. In 2000, I got sentenced to 17 years in prison and did not get released from prison until 2016. Upon my release, I saw that my homeboy from the neighborhood was doing real well, and working at Homeboy Industries. He told me about the solar program that they were sponsoring at the East Los Angeles Skills Center.

After some thinking of what to do with my life, after spending 15 years behind bars, I took my homeboy's advice and joined the solar program through Homeboy Industries. I surprised myself, not only by completing the program, but by finishing with straight A's and then passing the NABCEP Associate's exam. During my whole time at school, and afterwards, I discovered and volunteered with GRID Alternatives. It was because of my training at Homeboy Industries and GRID Alternatives that I fell in love with the solar industry. Because of all the experience that I acquired with GRID, I landed a good job with the company I currently work for. And that's pretty much a summary of my time after my release.

In March, Jose's powerful story was featured by NextCity. Read more.