When Terrell Smith walks through his neighborhood in East Baltimore, he sees boarded-up windows, empty lots and trash-strewn alleys. But now, he also sees solar -- and not just solar panels, but people working in solar jobs.
Terrell is one of a cohort of young African-American men from Baltimore’s Civic Works job training program who have spent the last month learning how to install solar with GRID Alternatives, helping 10 families here go solar as part of a pilot program in partnership with Baltimore, a city that could greatly benefit from the economic opportunities solar can bring.
“It’s great for people in the neighborhood to come out and see solar on their rooftops, and see young people like me working,” he said. “It shows that the community is improving.”
For Terrell and countless other people in economically struggling communities, solar is not always an obvious career option. But with the solar industry adding high-quality, living-wage jobs at a rate of 20 percent a year, solar is a growing force for economic empowerment in the places that need it most.
Just as solar is a positive economic and social force in diverse communities, diversity is good for solar: it’s good for companies’ bottom lines, our industry’s long-term success, and for the country’s economy.
That’s why GRID Alternatives and SunEdison have partnered on a national initiative, Realizing an Inclusive Solar Economy (RISE), to increase diversity in the solar industry and connect people like Terrell who need good jobs with an industry that needs good people. It’s an issue the industry as a whole should care about a lot.