Grant by major local philanthropic fund kick-starts paid internship program for Second Chances

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March 27, 2018

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Two people put their arms around each other in front of an outdoor GRID Alternatives banner
Activist Susan Burton and GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles Board Member Alicia Schwarz celebrate a commitment to GRID Alternatives providing solar jobs and second chances.

The JIB Fund recently awarded more than $100,000 to supplement GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles' launch at the beginning of 2018 of our Solar Jobs and Second Chances initiative. JIB Fund has an excellent track record for impact investing that benefits communities throughout Los Angeles, including A Window Between Worlds, WomenShelter of Long Beach, Rainbow Services, and Center for the Pacific Asian Family. We're honored to have our work with returning citizens added to the impact the Fund has accomplished.

Thanks to this new financial support as well as the outpouring of generosity from our staff-led fundraising appeal at the end of 2017, GLA can offer a dozen paid internships in 2018. Each trainee will earn a living wage rate during the time it takes them to complete the sixteen-week Installation Basics Training (IBT) course, as well as additional education, experience, and exposure to solar careers. Included in the internships will be site visits and surveys, warehouse and operations management, electrical wiring and conduit bending workshops, as well as the development of soft skills including job readiness and employment placement.

Upon completion of training with GLA for four months (approximately twenty-four hours a week for twelve weeks), each participant will have acquired the technical installation and safety skills, hands-on experience, and work preparedness to enable them to viably compete for employment – or pursue more extensive certification-based solar training. Solar Jobs and Second Chances represents an innovative approach to better meet the unique and specific challenges that marginalized individuals face (in this case, returning citizens). Today, nearly nine million people throughout the United States face the challenge of re-entering their communities following incarceration. Many will face stigma, restrictive hiring policies, and illegal or quasi-legal practices, to say nothing of covert and overt marginalization that further perpetuate cycles of poverty, inequality and despair.

Adewale OgunBadejo, Workforce Development Manager, said, "We are confident in the impact and success of this GRID Alternatives work. The great tragedy is that most men and women leaving incarceration and coming back into the world have even less opportunity and reason for hope than when they entered the prison system, thanks to the stigma and barriers of the conviction or felony they now have." (Lack of gainful employment can drastically multiply the rate at which recidivism occurs.) "Earning livable wages during the time it takes to train with us and get skills that prepare you to gain employment in solar is a key factor during this transitional period," Adewale continued. "It ensures that our interns can focus and increase their confidence in themselves as they each day realize that a better future is possible."

The launch of this program is the culmination of GLA’s years of work advancing employment opportunities available to L.A.'s formerly-incarcerated population. In partnership with Liberty Hill and Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office of Reentry, we hosted a convening in September that facilitated a conversation about how to better serve trainees like these. We always knew that it would take help from across our network of supporters when we began to do impactful work to uplift members of L.A.'s formerly-incarcerated community and empower them with solar jobs. Thank you to JIB Fund for investing in these individuals throughout 2018.