The Solar Pioneer Bootcamp initiative focused on increasing access to affordable clean energy and free home repairs, while up-skilling Brownsville youth in preparation for future employment within the solar industry.

On Saturday, 25 youth trainees, recruited from the local Brownsville community, attended the inaugural Solar Pioneer Bootcamp at Three Cats Café. The one-day skills lab, an initiative launched in partnership with Rebuilding Together NYC, Nehemiah Economic Development Inc. and NYC Solar Partnership, aimed to prepare the young applicants for paid community outreach positions to educate neighborhood residents on the Solarize Brownsville Campaign.

“We sincerely believe that the key to a more prosperous future for the community of Brownsville is investing in the education and empowerment of its young people,” said Mary Tobin, director of Brownsville Partnership, which spearheaded the recruitment effort of the local applicants. “The Solar Pioneers program is poised to usher in a new era of youth workforce and career development that includes a pathway to collegiate opportunities and solar careers for the youth of Brownsville.”

Saturday’s joint initiative served the dual purpose of increasing awareness and access to affordable clean energy and free home repairs, while up-skilling local residents in preparation for future employment.

The eight-hour-long boot camp educated participants on the importance, benefits and practical elements of solar power, prepared them for possible interactions with homeowners and taught them how to assess homes for damage. The new initiative offers fixed-term paid weekend jobs aimed primarily at students, with the goal that these jobs will lead to more permanent positions within the solar industry.

“NED’s Solar Pioneers Bootcamp was extremely successful in showing that there is a new narrative that is being forged within Brownsville. When you can gather 25 young individuals from one of the worst neighborhoods in the city on an early Saturday to participate and compete in an intense academic boot camp –  to increase solar awareness and communal synergy while getting paid – that speaks volumes,” said Mawuli K. Hormeku, executive director of Nehemiah Economic Development, Inc.

The Solarize Brownsville campaign is part of the citywide Solarize NYC program, which is designed to increase adoption of solar in communities that have historically lacked access to clean energy. In 2006, Sustainable CUNY of the City University of New York formed the NYC Solar Partnership with the NYC’s Office of Sustainability and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to develop and implement comprehensive plans for large-scale distributed solar generation in NYC.

“The Solarize NYC program in Brownsville is unique because it is helping to generate good local jobs while promoting affordable, sustainable energy in an underserved community and increasing access to free critical home repairs,” said Rebuilding Together NYC Executive Director Kimberly George. “Saturday’s job training boot camp was step one; next, we look forward to working with Brownsville residents to help strengthen their economy and make their neighborhood a greener place to live.”

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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