SunEdison, Inc. and the SunEdison Foundation have announced a $5 million contribution to their philanthropic partnership with GRID Alternatives, the nation's largest non-profit solar installer. Together, the organizations are launching a two-year initiative called RISE to connect the industry's growing demand for skilled workers with communities that need jobs, and to build a more inclusive solar workforce. Building on the successful 2014 SunEdison and GRID Alternatives partnership to bring more women into the solar industry, the RISE initiative will provide underserved communities with solar job training and job placement through GRID Alternatives' workforce development program. The$5 million contribution is both financial and in the form of solar panels.
"This partnership is making solar more accessible for everyone in America. For lower income families, that means lower electricity bills, more money for necessities, and the opportunity to receive valuable job training," said Ahmad Chatila, President and Chief Executive Officer of SunEdison. "I'm very proud that with this contribution, SunEdison is truly helping the people who need it most."
The RISE initiative will provide hands-on training and real-world solar installation experience to over 4,000 people across the country. In addition, the initiative will connect job trainees with solar companies looking for skilled workers. As part of the initiative, GRID Alternatives will provide 40 individuals with one-year paid fellowships in GRID Alternatives' offices around the country through its SolarCorps program, and SunEdison employees will donate over 2,000 hours of their time installing solar systems for low-income families and supporting job-readiness for trainees.
"The solar industry is adding jobs at a rate of more than 20% year over year," said Erica Mackie, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of GRID Alternatives. "This is an incredible opportunity to connect an industry that needs good people with people that need good jobs, and that's just what this partnership is doing."
"The RISE workforce diversity initiative will help put climate policies to work for all Californians, by engaging those communities who need the most help with pollution, energy bills, and job opportunities,"California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) said. "GRID Alternatives and SunEdison's partnership is a model for California – their job training program gives women and members of underserved communities the skills they need to secure jobs in the solar industry."
"I have no doubt that the RISE initiative's hands-on training and recruitment program will ensure that there will always be a ready reservoir of local talent as the industry continues to expand," stated New York State Assembly member Marcos Crespo (D-Bronx). "And with the explosive growth in demand for solar in New York we'll need these people. New York's supportive policy environment for solar development and job creation is starting to pay dividends, with the Empire State now ranked 4th nationally in solar jobs. It is particularly encouraging to see that this robust job growth cuts across all income strata, including helping to expand the pool of minorities in the workforce."
SunEdison and GRID Alternatives are also working with the White House this week to help President Obama meet his goal of installing 100 megawatts of solar capacity on federally assisted housing in a way that provides job training opportunities to the residents of those communities.