ED's Corner: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Dear GRID family,

I like to end the year by looking back at what we set out to do at the beginning. In 2023, we set out to accomplish four main goals:

1. Opening new training programs focused directly on helping women and veterans enter the solar workforce. We accomplished this by launching the NextGen Training Academy, which will be our hub for workforce development in 2024 and beyond. NextGen’s Women in Solar program and Troops to Solar program aim to welcome women and veterans into the solar workforce. The Solar Futures program will educate youths on opportunities that exist in solar. Finally, and most excitingly, Solar Energy Education (SEE) will become our flagship training program in 2024. More on that below. 

2. Increasing our number of solar installations. We accomplished this, doubling our installations from 22 in 2022 to 44 in 2023. 

3. Providing more benefits for Solar Works DC trainees. In our sixth year implementing the Solar Works DC program, trainees received in-person instruction from solar professional Sean White; had double the number of real-world solar installations; received a $16/hour training wage; and benefited from case management services provided by Lasting Change Life Coaching. As a result, 26 of the 54 trainees who participated in the program in 2023 found work in a clean energy career by the end of the year.

4. Building off the momentum of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). While IRA implementation began in 2023, many effects of the legislation have yet to bear fruit at the community level. GRID’s policy team works tirelessly to ensure that IRA benefits are equitable and reach historically underserved communities. 

I’m extremely proud of our progress last year as an organization, especially in the specific areas we highlighted as priorities. We accomplished all four of our primary goals, which is no small feat. 

Moving into 2024, we are hugely excited about the direction of the NextGen Training Academy. We launched NextGen in 2023 as a central hub for all of our workforce training efforts, with Solar Works DC as the academy’s flagship program.

We implemented the Department of Energy and Environment’s Solar Works DC program from its origin in 2016. Solar Works DC has been an unequivocal success, providing 384 individuals with hands-on solar installation experience and career soft skills training. 126 Solar Works DC graduates have gone on to work in clean energy careers. 

Next year, Solar Energy Education (SEE) will replace Solar Works DC as NextGen’s flagship program. SEE will build on our successes implementing Solar Works DC, specifically in the areas of soft skills development and case management support. (These services will be pillars of the SEE program.) 

SEE will take a broader approach to clean energy workforce training than we've taken before, providing trainees with skills to succeed in solar installation, sales, design, and administration. This invites more people to participate in the clean energy revolution and helps individuals develop a more diverse and well-rounded skill set. 

So where do we go from here? Our short-term focus is implementing SEE and launching NextGen’s various programs for DC, Maryland, and Virginia residents. We will also continue to install solar for Mid-Atlantic families that meet our income qualifications.

I see 2024 as an important and transformative year for our office. The changes on our horizon will help us connect and cater to more individuals than ever before. To say I’m excited about our future and everything we have before us is an understatement.

Thank you to our many supporters who have helped us in our mission to advance environmental justice through renewable energy. Your contributions are essential to our work, and we need you in this critical moment! You can support our work and our mission here.

Have a safe and blessed new year, 

Elijah Perry

Elijah Perry, Executive Director, GRID Mid-Atlantic