On July 15, the recently-opened Sustainability Hub – a new Chicago job training center jointly developed by Power52’s Ecademy and 548 Enterprise – graduated its first class of trainees from its clean energy job training program. The Sustainability Hub is co-funded by Summit Ridge Energy, the nation’s leading commercial solar company and a market leader in community solar. More information about the Hub launch can be found here.
“We are so gratified to see the first Sustainability Hub class graduate and take the next step toward clean energy careers,” said Steve Raeder, Summit Ridge Energy Founder and CEO. “We saw an opportunity to invest in a program that was creating life-long family-sustaining jobs, right in the Chicago area. This is unique – a model we think can be expanded to other cities.”
Located on the West Side of Chicago, the Sustainability Hub provides trainees with skills needed to establish a career in the expanding solar industry in Illinois. Participants graduate with solar technician certification and the skills to design, construct, operate and maintain solar energy projects. In addition, the program offers training in life skills such as conflict resolution and financial literacy. The goal is to train 10,000+ Illinois residents by the year 2033, with a focus on veterans, returning citizens and high school-educated residents from underserved communities.
Following graduation from the 11-week curriculum, graduates will be able to participate in on-the-job training at solar projects throughout Illinois – including more than 100 rooftop projects located in inner-city Chicago.
Power52’s Ecademy prepares individuals for a career in the Renewable Energy Industry and 548 Enterprise helps minority- and women-owned companies to level the playing field.
“Our goal is to use the Sustainability Hub to make sure that specifically low-to-middle income and black and brown communities are not left out of clean energy,” said Rob Wallace, President and CEO of Ecademy. “One of the most important things you have in creating wealth is economic empowerment and you create that through creating careers.”
“The Sustainability Hub is important to our students because we take it above and beyond just your normal workforce development,” said Travis Smith, Executive Program Director for 548 Enterprise.
Sustainability Hub student Kewana Johnson elaborated, “It’s a beautiful thing to know that people are willing to help you and work with you as much as you are willing to help them.” Kewana graduated from the program and is now a Rebates & Interconnection Representative.
Marques Jones, also a Sustainability Hub student remarked, “I didn’t have a straight path for where I wanted to go before solar. There was nothing that I could see myself starting a career in.” Marques, also a graduate of the program, is now employed as a Solar Installer.
Hub student Infiniti Starks commented, “These jobs weren’t available to me before because I didn’t have the technical skills, hands-on training or experience. My goal here is to rebuild my foundation for my career and for my future.” Infiniti graduated from the program and is now an Assistant Construction Superintendent.
Starks continued, “I have visions to really change the future. I’m the generation that is supposed to be stepping up right now. Now, my future is really bright – no pun intended.”
For more information about the Sustainability Hub and to take part in the real-life stories of Kewana Johnson, Marques Jones, and Infiniti Starks, watch their stories unfold:
Join us in creating more solar jobs in your community. Contact us at [email protected].
A special thanks to our partner 548 Foundation.