It’s been a big year for Batrina Wallace. It started when she visited the Department of Employment Services and learned about the Solar Works DC program. Being interested in the tiny house movement and off-grid living, she decided to look further into the program.
Before she knew it, Batrina was sitting in a classroom studying the names of tools used to install solar. As a self-described “girly-girl” with no construction experience, she couldn’t help wondering whether she’d made the right decision. But soon she was practicing on a mock roof, and not long after that she was on top of a ladder, climbing onto a rooftop for her first real install.
“I never thought I’d be doing construction, and I am, and I love it,” she said, “and I’m excited to come everyday to see what I’m gonna do.”
Batrina found that she loved the learning process. She also enjoyed helping other trainees, and it quickly became apparent that she was a natural leader in the classroom. After graduating from Solar Works DC, she joined the GRID Mid-Atlantic team as a Workforce Training Supervisor, which put her in charge of training participants in the very same program she’d just completed. And she’s been leading ever since.
Batrina is one of many Solar Works DC graduates who’ve gone on to work in solar, and she represents what is so important about the program: it’s more than reducing electric bills and carbon emissions, it’s about providing opportunities in places where opportunity is scarce. The District of Columbia has an employment rate nearly double that of neighboring Virginia, and individuals living in underserved areas of D.C. face more barriers to employment than other residents. That’s why it’s imperative to create avenues to good-paying solar jobs in these areas if we’re going to include everyone in the transition to clean energy, regardless of their race, gender, or socioeconomic background.
On December 7th, Batrina spoke at the graduation of the Fall 2018 cohort. She recalled her own time in the program, “I remember saying, ‘I don’t want [Solar Works DC] to end’...so that’s why I’m here. I do it as a labor of love for my city and for the people of the city like myself.”
Batrina’s year started as a struggle. Now she’s thriving and making real impacts in her community.
With your support, we can make even bigger impacts moving forward. We can reduce more emissions, save families more money on electric bills, and train more residents for careers in the fast-growing solar industry. Any sized contribution helps.
If you’re in a position to give, then please consider donating to GRID Mid-Atlantic’s workforce efforts in underserved communities. Or, as Batrina put it in her closing remarks, “don’t forget to open the door for someone else.”