The District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) has initiated three green workforce development programs for District residents: the Green Zone Environmental Program, Solar Works DC, and River Corps. DOEE is preparing District residents for entry into the job market and creating a pipeline to employment, and is supplying employers with a qualified, trained workforce to do the jobs needed, specifically in the green industry.
Green Zone Environmental Program (GZEP):
GZEP is one of the nation’s largest summer green jobs training programs for youth and young adults. Every summer, DOEE partners with the Department of Employment Services (DOES), Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program to provide more than 300 youth and young adults, ages 14 to 24, with an opportunity to learn about energy and environmental issues, complete community-based environmental work projects such as rain gardens and storm drain markers, and prepare for careers. GZEP runs for six weeks and incorporates a traditional classroom model twice a week, community projects twice a week, and one day dedicated to our senior citizens. The program works with local not-for-profit organizations and educational institutions to execute specific projects. For example, participants have worked with the University of the District of Columbia to plant and maintain the East Capitol Urban Farm. Participants also have a chance to develop professional skills, prepare for jobs, and obtain meaningful certifications.
Solar Works DC:
In 2016, DOEE launched a pilot solar photovoltaic systems installation and job training program for District young adults, ages 18 to 24. Building on the success of the 2016 program, DOEE and DOES partnered to develop Solar Works DC, which accepted its first cohort in June 2017. Solar Works DC (SWDC) intends to train more than 200 District residents and install solar systems on up to 300 low-income single-family homes in the District over three years.
To implement the first year of Solar Works DC, DOEE and DOES awarded $950,000 to GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic through a competitive grant process. With this funding, GRID is operating a year-round program (summer, fall, and spring cohorts) to train District residents in solar installation. In addition to preparing residents to enter careers in solar and related industries, SWDC will increase solar capacity in the District and reduce energy costs for qualified low-income District homeowners by installing solar systems on their homes. Solar Works DC participants will attain certifications in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10-hour construction and safety training, CPR and first-aid, North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, and Installation Basics Training, which are all industry-recognized certifications and highly marketable to solar and industry employers.
In 2016 DOEE awarded a grant to the Latin American Youth Center to offer job training in green infrastructure and conservation to residents of the District of Columbia. The River Corps program provides field experience and classroom instruction, including job readiness training, certifications, and career development opportunities. Participants engage in photo-monitoring of District of Columbia streams, invasive species management, and inspection and maintenance of RiverSmart homes and other bio-retention and low-impact development sites. Participants also are exposed to diverse skill-building workshops and activities, including professional development, life skills, and job preparedness.
These activities are reinforced through education courses focused on stormwater management and environmental restoration related to watershed protection and the conservation of native ecosystems. Participants have an opportunity to gain industry-recognized certifications, including CPR and first aid, OSHA 10-hour construction and safety training and Pesticide Applicator.
Results to Date:
- Over the past three years, 959 District youth have participated in GZEP.
- Program participants have helped hundreds of senior citizens with their lawn maintenance and beautification needs throughout the District, conducted cleanups at illegal dumping sites, cleared approximately 13,000 square feet of bush honeysuckle on Kingman Island in order to create a new trail, and constructed new picnic areas to aid with education programming resources, and improve the experience for park visitors.
- GZEP was awarded the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program Visionary Program Award from DOES in 2016 for its innovative efforts to train young adults in the field of energy and the environment.
Solar Works DC:
- Fifteen program participants graduated in 2016, and eight qualified low-income households received solar panel installations through the solar pilot program.
- In 2016, 15 participants in the solar pilot program were trained in OSHA 10-hour construction and safety training and CPR. After the program ended, three participants were offered jobs by a reputable solar installer.
- The Solar Works DC launch event with Mayor Muriel Bowser was held in July 2017 at a home in Northeast DC where panels were recently installed.
- The current cohort comprised of 15 participants will graduate at the Ballou STAY Workforce Development Center in August 2017, and will receive case management support to obtain apprenticeships or part or full-time jobs in the solar and related industries.
- Seven participants successfully completed the River Corps program in the summer of 2017.
- Four of the seven participants have already moved on to jobs in the green industry (three are currently working for GZEP as Team Leaders, and one with the green infrastructure training at DC Water).