ED's Corner: New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year, GRID family!

A new year means new opportunities, new challenges, and new goals. GRID Mid-Atlantic has big plans for 2023: We want to broaden and deepen our impact in the community. Before we get to some of those plans, I want to highlight some of what we accomplished in the year that just wrapped up.  

Your support was essential to our work in 2022. From the solar we installed for Mr. and Mrs. Handy last January to the Solar Works DC trainees that graduated in December, our goal has always been to extend the benefits of clean energy to everyone in our community. 

In 2022, we revived some key connections that were lost during the pandemic. Our comedy show fundraiser in February, held in partnership with Grassroots Comedy, was our first in-person community event since 2020. Solar Works DC resumed in-person learning midway through the year. Our staff returned to the office in October, bringing us closer to each other and the communities we serve.

Workforce Development in 2022

Our workforce development team completed five training cohorts through Solar Works DC—the most cohorts we’ve ever completed in a single year. Seventy-nine trainees graduated from the program and 32 of those received full employment before the year was out.

Robert Richards, who graduated from Solar Works DC in August, will start 2023 with opportunities beyond what he could imagine just a year ago. He began his reentry process last spring by visiting the DC Infrastructure Academy and looking for job training opportunities. After joining Solar Works DC and training for seven weeks, Robert was able to secure employment at a local solar company in the fall.

Jahlil Wormley’s life also changed immeasurably after he joined the Solar Works DC program. Jahlil reached out to us in early 2022 to share that he’d secured a full-time position at Tesla Energy in Maryland—less than a year after he was displaced and nearly lost his life to gun violence. Solar Works DC’s case manager helped Jahlil find a home and build a new foundation for his career and much more. “I was at my worst part in my life,” Jahlil said. “You don’t know how much that helped me out.”

Solar Installations in 2022

We installed solar for 22 District families in 2022 and look forward to doing much more in 2023. Our installations provided a vital experience for our workforce trainees and will help residents in historically underserved communities save more than $12,000 per year (more than $250,000 in total) on their electric bills. Altogether, the systems will reduce more than 1,300 tons of carbon emissions.

One of those clients was Aretha Frizzell, who received solar from GRID in October. Aretha moved into her Northeast DC home in 1962 with her husband, Tillman, who designed it. Aretha applied for solar in 2021 and met our income qualifications, but her 30-year old roof could not support a solar energy system. Last year, however, we received funding to provide home repairs to help qualified households become solar ready. We helped Aretha get a new roof and installed solar panels, which will help her save $800 per month in electricity costs.

Highlighting our Partnerships 

We’re grateful for our incredible corporate partners, including SolSystems and TD Bank, as well as our community partners Mi Casa Inc. and Habitat for Humanity. Our work would not be possible without our government partners at the Department of Energy and Environment and the Department of Employment Services. If you donated to GRID Mid-Atlantic over the last 12 months, I could not thank you enough. (If you haven’t, we look forward to your support in 2023!) 

Our Priorities for 2023

This year, we’re going to expand our impact in the community by… 

  • Opening new training programs focused directly at helping women and veterans enter the solar workforce. Women are vastly underrepresented in solar: they make up 47% of the entire U.S. workforce but only 30% of the country’s solar workforce. I’m thrilled to announce our plans for new training programs—which have long been in the works—this spring. 
  • Increasing our number of solar installations. In 2022 we brought the benefits of solar energy to 22 households in the District. This year, we’re aiming to double that. We’re also planning to install solar in Virginia through our renewed partnership with Habitat for Humanity. 
  • Providing more benefits for Solar Works DC trainees. Solar Works DC—already the only solar workforce training program in the country that pays participants to learn—recently increased trainees’ hourly wages to $16/hour. 
  • Building off the momentum of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA is the biggest investment to reverse climate change in human history, but it’s only the beginning. This year, we’ll be aiming to implement the act’s policies while expanding access to renewable energy and solar jobs. 

Please join our coalition of support around building a community where everyone has access to the benefits of clean energy. Together, we can make a healthier, more affordable, and more sustainable future!

Warmest Regards,

Elijah Perry 

Executive Director
GRID Mid-Atlantic