SolarCorps fellows build skills, embark on new careers


November 02, 2017


Manuel (right), with GRID Central Valley Executive Director Tom Esqueda.

Manuel Lopez never thought that he would have the opportunity to reinvent himself. He was shy, reluctant to speak up or stand in the spotlight. And when he began his journey as a SolarCorps Fellow in August 2016, he still remembers how uncertain he felt about his skills.

He found himself under the instruction of seasoned GRID Solar Installation Supervisor, Oscar Mendez, who took Manuel under his wing. Day in and day out they worked together installing solar for low-income families across the Central Valley region, Manuel slowly building his confidence and construction skills. Before long, he was leading installations of his own, teaching his newly-mastered skills to volunteers and job trainees. When his SolarCorps term was complete in September 2017, he was officially hired by GRID Central Valley--his first full-time, permanent job.

From coast to coast, SolarCorps Fellows like Manuel have made a name for themselves, spending a year at GRID learning and growing before launching their careers in clean energy, workforce development, nonprofits and other industries. They’re also responsible for helping retrofit over 1500 low-income homes with solar power and helping hundreds of economically disadvantaged individuals gain employment in the solar industry.

Tracy (left), with SolarCorps fellows Rachel Norwood and Nicole Villanueva.
“At the end of the day, we’re making a big difference for homeowners and their families and it makes all the hard work worth it,” Tracy Ruiz remarked about her experience serving as a SolarCorps Outreach Fellow in the Inland Empire. “Every project has different needs, and it’s really fulfilling to know that we can help all kinds of people afford a better life.”

Congratulations and heartfelt thanks to all of the SolarCorps fellows who completed their terms this year.

We’d also like to thank the Corporation for National and Community Service for its long-term support of our SolarCorps program, and PG&E for sponsoring eight of our graduating fellows across Northern California!