SolarCorps Fellowships jumpstart solar careers

On a sunny Saturday in October, 20-year-old Kaly Moore was on a rooftop in Atascadero, California leading a group of PG&E employee volunteers to install a solar electric system for a family in need. The first in her family to graduate high school, Kaly is taking her solar career by storm through GRID Alternatives’ SolarCorps program, an AmeriCorps-style program that provides year-long fellowships in everything from construction to fundraising at GRID.

She is among six SolarCorps construction fellows in GRID’s California offices who were sponsored by PG&E this year as part of the company’s support for our workforce development initiatives, and so for her, leading the PG&E volunteers was coming full circle. “All the PG&E volunteers were so great,” said Kaly. “It was really satisfying to be able to pass on to them some of what I’ve learned here at GRID.”

This year’s class of SolarCorps—27 in all—includes fellows in our Tribal and International programs, as well as volunteerism, workforce development, outreach, development and construction departments around the country. The program is funded by both AmeriCorps and donors like PG&E who are excited about solar job training.

For Kaly, it was a chance to do something she really cared about while helping support her family. The daughter of a recently divorced mother who struggled with unemployment, she started working at age 15. After graduating from high school, she jumped at the opportunity to “learn by doing” with GRID Alternatives. She completed more than 50 solar installations for families struggling with many of the same issues as her own during her first year as a SolarCorps fellow with GRID Alternatives’ North Valley office.  There, she gained experience in all stages of the solar installation process, building her technical knowledge and leadership skills to the point where she was training groups of students from GRID’s community college partners.  This fall, she was hired for a second year of service in the Central Coast, where she is training new SolarCorps members and leading installations on her own.

"When I was looking for a job, of course I wanted to be a part of something where my beliefs and values aligned," said Kaly, "but more than anything to find a job that would keep my mom and me off the streets. I ended up entering something so much more than I could have imagined."

The PG&E employee volunteers were excited for the chance to work with a PG&E-sponsored fellow and see their company’s philanthropy in action so many levels. “It was great getting to meet Kaly and work with her today up on the roof, see her teaching volunteers who had never done this before how to install the solar panels,” said Heather Tarango, who works in operations at PG&E’s Diablo Canyon facility.

Carolyn Berry, a manager in energy procurement for the company, agreed. “It’s amazing how all these parts of the community come together to do theses amazing things for individuals in need. It says a lot for PG&E.”

Learn more about GRID’s SolarCorps program here