GRID IE Completes its Pilot Solar Construction Cohort Program

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June 24, 2019
Solar Construction Cohorts graduation group shot with family and staff

Nine solar construction trainees recently graduated from GRID Alternatives Inland Empire’s (GRID IE) Solar Construction Cohort Program. The 2019 Solar Construction Cohort graduates included: Mark Aguinaga, Noel Allen, Victor Barajas, Kevin Davis, Marcelino Duarte, Jonathan Gonzalez, Daniel Montero, Javier Salcido, and Stephanie Katrina Velasquez. Three of the graduates received a special recognition for their outstanding progress during their 12-week journey through the program. Cohort Choice was a recognition from the team of cohorts to a teammate who exemplified strong team cohesiveness and lead by example with good character. Cohort Kevin Davis received this award. Voted “Most Improved’ was handed out to Mark Aguinaga. Daniel Montero received the “GRID’s Choice” award. Daniel was described as someone who always showed up with a smile on his face and a great attitude every day.

This program evolved from GRID’s paid solar construction internship program, which started in 2014 and a partnership between the Workforce Connection Program through the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS), and College of the Desert. GRID Inland Empire developed a relationship with the County of Riverside and saw a great opportunity to introduce the county’s education and subsidized employment program to GRID’s Solar Construction internship and expand it, in conjunction with the county’s employment program. It proved to be an effective partnership! The goal of the Solar Construction Cohort Program is to connect these trainees with employment prospects after their internship. Additionally, the goal was also to incorporate an education component to extend the hands-on rooftop skills to the classroom. Longtime partner College of the Desert was a perfect fit to provide the educational element. The cohorts received one day of in-depth Solar System Theory and three days of technical hands-on training participating at solar installs. The program also provided these cohorts with valuable workforce training to support their soft skills such as; resume development, communication skills and what it means to turn a job into a career with these soft skills.

The Solar Construction Cohort Program was developed and managed by GRID IE’s Workforce and Volunteer Manager Cindy Corrales. “We had nine trainees and despite the rigorous curriculum and training, all nine graduated, which is certainly something to celebrate! A few highlights were that two out of the nine graduates secured jobs before the end of the program,” said Cindy. GRID IE hosted a mini-job fair on graduation day. Employers GRID, IBEW Local 440 and Horizon Solar Power interviewed these job candidates. As a result, all of the candidates the employers met were invited back for a second interview with Horizon Solar. Although the subsidized employment program is a longstanding program, the conjoined Solar Construction Cohort Program is new. Riverside has been very proud to share the successes of this program with surrounding counties.

"We are certainly open to seeing how we can expand this program to have a further reach and higher impact. This has been a growing opportunity for GRID Alternatives Inland Empire office to spend time and energy on people who are not looking for a hand out, but a hand up, to be able to better support their families and find a career that matters to them. I am proud to be a part of helping them on that journey. I look forward to continuing to advocate for our communities to make sure that we are well represented and see pathways to the solar industry,” said Cindy.

If you would like to support the important work that GRID is doing in providing hands-on job training and classroom education through the Solar Construction Cohort Program please call Cindy Corrales at 951.228.9381, or email ccorrales@gridalternatives.org.