Environmental and social justice fellows unite for first ever Summit

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June 19, 2019
Environmental and social justice fellows from around the Bay Area pose with UC Berkeley students at Fellowship Summit in Oakland, California.

On one of the first warm, sunny days of Spring 2019, students from UC Berkeley celebrated the completion of a week of service-learning through GRID Alternatives’ Solar Spring Break program. GRID Bay Area’s very own Matt Kroll even set up an eye-catching solar DJ set and set the mood with some funky tunes. But this wasn’t just a dance party, this was a celebration with a purpose! Joining the students, fellows from all around the Bay Area gathered together for GRID’s first ever Fellowship Summit.

The Fellowship Summit was created by SolarCorps Fellow, Gwen Chang, as an opportunity for peer-to-peer networking among environmental and social justice fellows throughout California's Bay Area. Gwen reflected, “As a college student, I had no idea that fellowships existed and knowing what your options are is the first step. Becoming a SolarCorps Fellow has been the most defining experience in my career thus far and has given me the opportunity to become a part of a community that is so caring and driven to make a positive impact on the world. I wanted to make sure that all of the Bay Area fellows had an opportunity to connect and it was a good way to give the Spring Break students exposure to different pathways.”   

The summit provided the Solar Spring Break students a chance to learn about what fellowships are and to gain exposure to the breadth of work that fellows can be involved in. Additionally, the fellows were able to network amongst each other to share experiences and create a stronger bond of environmental and social justice stewards in the Bay Area.

As fellows began to trickle in and mingle, the ice slowly cracked and attendees quickly found common ground. It was clear that the attendees were motivated to do good for the earth and for our communities. It was also clear that folks were hungry to connect with their peers and build these networks with other like-minded individuals. The event was kicked off with some casual networking and Daisy Meyer, GRID Bay Area’s Workforce Development Manager, led folks through a quick tour of GRID Bay Area’s warehouse and training roof spaces. Afterwards, the Fellows gathered in a circle, shared a bit about themselves, their fellowship programs, and the best piece of advice they received as a young professional searching for a job. The event closed out with a fun and funky solar-bration filled with sun-powered music and beverages!

The gathering created a space for everyone to learn about the different opportunities in environmental and social justice work in the Bay Area, including GRID’s SolarCorps Fellowship Program. It filled the unique desire that all the fellows had to build a community, share experiences, projects, find new opportunities to collaborate, and to feel like others were on a similar journey. Ultimately, the event facilitated a fun and relaxed environment to build a community of fellows and introduce UC Berkeley Solar Spring Break students to post-graduation pathways.

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Special thanks to Gwen Chang for her contributions to GRID Bay Area during her SolarCorps year of service!

The SolarCorps Fellowship Program is part of the AmeriCorps network of programs.  SolarCorps is made possible with funding support from AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA.  AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for volunteering, service, and civic engagement. CNCS engages millions of Americans in citizen service through its AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs and leads the nation’s volunteer and service efforts. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.