Obama Administration announces investment in SolarCorps

White House and other government officials gathered at a GRID install in East Baltimore’s C.A.R.E. Community to announce a series of commitments around solar in low-income communities, including a major new investment in our SolarCorps Program through the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Under the program, 40 AmeriCorps members will gain hands-on training and skills to access jobs in the booming solar industry each year through service at GRID Alternatives’ affiliates and offices throughout the country. 

At the end of the first program year, the AmeriCorps members will be responsible for helping retrofit 1,500 low-income homes with solar power and help 200 economically disadvantaged individuals gain jobs in the solar industry, while successfully securing green jobs for themselves at the end of their years of service. In addition, the AmeriCorps members will leverage an additional 4,000 volunteers who will be engaged in installing solar for low-income families. 

“Over the past decade, AmeriCorps members serving with GRID Alternatives have successfully harnessed the power of national service and volunteering to bring solar energy to thousands of low-income families,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.  “Today we are excited to launch a major expansion of our partnership through AmeriCorps. This is a win all around: low-income families save on utility bills, young people gain skills for solar jobs, and our nation becomes more energy independent.”   

SunEdison has already committed to provide matching funds for the program through the RISE Initiative, a $5 million workforce diversity partnership we announced earlier this year.

“SunEdison is proud to sponsor the work that GRID Alternatives is doing to train people for a career in solar,” stated Ahmad Chatila, SunEdison chief executive officer. “Solar is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S., and expects to add more than 36,000 jobs by November 2015 according to the national Solar Jobs Census. All Americans should have the opportunity to work in a high-quality job that pays living wages, and SunEdison is partnering with GRID Alternatives to do something about it.”

CNCS has supported GRID through AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA since 2006, and nearly 140 people have received training through the SolarCorps program. This new investment marks a major national expansion of the program across our service territory. The AmeriCorps grant, totaling $521,084 for the first year, is expected to be renewed for two additional years, contingent on funding, making a three-year total of more than $1.56 million to support 120 AmeriCorps members.  In addition to grant funding, CNCS is making $687,600 in education scholarships available for SolarCorps AmeriCorps members who complete their service to help pay for college or pay back student loans.

“Many of our SolarCorps members come from the very communities we are serving with our Solar Affordable Housing Program,” said Tim Sears, co-founder of GRID Alternatives. “SolarCorps provides them an opportunity to not only launch careers in a growing industry, but also make a real difference on the ground for families that need the energy cost savings and job training opportunities the most.”

Read the official White House fact sheet here