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East Bay Green Job Corps Graduates Gear Up For Careers in Clean Energy

The East Bay Green Corridor Partnership established the East Bay Green Job Corps (EBGJC) with the help of American Reinvestment & Recovery Act grants to train low-income youth to enter the clean energy workforce.  Graduates of the program are now taking their new skills into industries related to renewable energy, energy efficiency, advanced transportation and fuels, natural resource conservation and pollution prevention.

The EBGJC is a partnership between the Peralta Community College District, the Oakland-based Workforce Collaborative, Rising Sun Energy Center in Berkeley, the Oakland Private Industry Council, Solar Richmond, Richmond Works, Oakland’s Cypress Mandela Training Center, the Oakland Green Job Corps, and the City of Berkeley. Since last year, the EBGJC has enrolled 145 young adults in an 8-week Bridge Program and direct training. 

The EBGJC Bridge Program offers participants a path to further training, specialized education, or employment in clean energy sectors.  The program includes college-level basic math and English classes, an understanding of sustainability principles, entry-level training in energy efficiency, and job skills.  Between February 2010 and March 2011, the Corps hosted six Bridge Program cohort groups in Richmond, Berkeley, and Oakland and enrolled a total of 100 students.

Of these participants, 59 were successfully matched with training, education, or employment.  In addition, approximately 45 young adults were enrolled in direct training through the Cypress Mandela Training Center and Laney College.  These students learned advanced resource-efficient construction and/or energy auditing and are currently enrolled in classes or pursuing job opportunities.

Cohort participants are encouraged to pursue a wide spectrum of post-graduation opportunities.  Ten of the August 2010 cohort’s graduates enrolled in college after completing the program.  Some enrolled in solar energy training through the City of Richmond and Solar Richmond, while others are now members of the United States Job Corps or California Conservation Corps.  These students worked extensively with case management staff to determine which steps best suited their individual skills and career goals, and all remain in touch with EBGJC staff as they continue on their journeys.   

Julion Nelson is one graduate of the EBGJC program.  “My experience with East Bay Green Jobs Corps was intense, educational, fun and rewarding,” Nelson said recently.  “It was intense because of the team-building exercises which allowed participants to step outside of their comfort zones …. People from all walks of life came together for one of the biggest causes, if not the biggest: the welfare of our planet.”  

Nelson said he is now conscious of environmental issues such as global warming and the domino effect they have on the planet.  He has enjoyed learning how to build communication skills and educate the public about ‘going green.’  After completing the EBGJC program, Nelson was hired to work at the Rising Sun Energy Center’s California Youth Energy Services (CYES) program as an Energy Specialist.  As part of CYES, he now provides free energy and water conservation retrofit services and education to Berkeley residents.

“[It is] rewarding to know that I did something that was bigger than myself,” he said. “EBGJC was a wonderful program and for me - a person in transition - it was a step in the right direction.”


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