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Solar Richmond, a Pioneer in Green-Collar Jobs

June 2009


SolarRichmondLogoDear Tom,

This summer, in addition to teaching solar to our 8th cohort of Richmond residents, we're focusing on scaling-up our job-creation efforts in the solar industry. We're reaching out to community building owners and promoting solar to them. Churches, schools and NGO's inhabit larger buildings that use more energy and thus require a larger solar system, ultimately providing more installation time on the roof for our graduates. It's a big undertaking but we're confident that we can do it. Currently we're working to secure the financing for these installs, and promoting the idea to more community groups and churches.

It's a win-win, because not only do our graduates gain more work experience, but the selected non-profit locks-in its energy costs for the next 25 years, a goal worthy in and of itself. So if you know of a neighborhood church, school or other community building that may be ready to go solar, pass them our way. Also, mark your calendar and join us on Friday July 31st at our next live solar install day, 9-11am. 

We hope this note finds you well...happy summer!

~ The Solar Richmond Team


Digital Storytelling,

Building Leaders & Spokesman in Richmond


This spring Solar Richmond's Executive Director, Michele McGeoy, received a leadership award and grant from a law firm in San Francisco, recognizing her for her work in the Richmond community. McGeoy has invested these funds back into creating more leaders in Richmond, facilitating personal exploration and allowing them to tell their personal stories.

This digital storytelling project was a unique opportunity for 11 of our solar training program graduates to partake in a 3-day intensive writing, sound and visual production workshop in Berkeley. Each participant created a 3-minute personal video, a powerful project that emphasized writing skills, photography techniques and computer training. Our goal was to help graduates use these media tools to share and value stories from their lives in ways that promotes artistic expression, health, justice and self-empowerment. We hosted a screening for their friends and family shortly thereafter; it was a powerful and emotional 2 hours for all.

We knew how powerful their voices are and now we're able to share these stories with the world, maybe even Obama soon enough!




Hector Vasquez, SunPower
Transitional Solar Employment: a Savior in Hard Economic Times

More and more each day, Solar Richmond believes that temp-to-perm transitional employment is a key element in any successful green-collar jobs program like ours in Richmond.

That's why we've been working to find temporary work opportunities for our graduates, in addition to permanent positions. A recent SolarRichmondBUILD graduate Hector Vasquez, 39, a native of El Salvador, had been unemployed for five months after working eight years as a driver at DHL Express out of Oakland.

After going through our training program, he was started working with Silverwood Energy Inc. in late May as a temp, helping to install a 640kw solar system on a large retail company's building in Livermore. "The workday starts at 7 and ends at 3:30, it's hard work," he says "since it's hot up on the roof," but he's making prevailing wages and happy to have this opportunity. Silverwood, a San Diego-based solar installer, has said that they've enjoyed working with him and would hire him on permanently if they create a Northern California crew.




3/27 installSolar Richmond Donor & Champion
Marilyn Langlois, a Community Advocate in the City of Richmond's Mayoral Office, is a loyal SR supporter and here's why:

"I love Solar Richmond, because it is so supportive of real people, their relationships with each other and their relationship with the earth.  The digital stories created by SolarRichmondBUILD graduates show the depth and power of this amazing program. 

I grew up and went to school in El Cerrito and returned to West Contra Costa, settling in Richmond, in 2002.  In January, 2008, I started working for Mayor Gayle McLaughlin as a community advocate. In Richmond it's fun going green: walking, bicycling, and growing vegetables with friends and neighbors.  I ditched my dryer years ago and rely instead on the original solar appliance: the clothesline!"





3/27 installNEW
RichmondBUILD Instructor is Green-Certified


Andre Vernon, RichmondBUILD's new construction trainer for their 7-month piece of our joint training program, is a certified New Home Rater and has his Green Building Certificate from Berkeley's renowned Build It Green program.

Before coming to RichmondBUILD, Vernon worked at the City of Berkeley for 10 years in the maintenance department. With our next cohort he will incorporate a basic but all-important green building concept called "optimal framing," which cuts down on the amount of wood needed and provides more shading.

Vernon's teaching style is much like his attitude in general, easygoing but precise. "I don't believe in the drill sergeant style of teaching because that's not how it's going to be on the job-site. A typical job site will treat you with dignity, and so that's how I like to teach."
A general contractor who since 1992 has owned his own company called Final Cut, Vernon does new construction, restoration and design consultation and hopes to hire on program graduates himself on an as-needed basis at Final Cut.


Solar Richmond would like to acknowledge:


The Firedoll Foundation for its generous grant to fund this work!

NEW transitional solar employers of our graduates: SunEdison, SunWaterSolar, Silverwood Energy Inc.


In this Newsletter


SolarRichmondBUILD Graduates

Green Employmnet

Solar Richmond Donor

Staff Profile



3/27 install

Donate to Solar Richmond and make an investment in the environment, the local economy and our struggling Richmond community all in one.

 Monthly donations are especially welcome!


Links & More

Our next live solar install day is Friday July 31st, 9-11am. Mark your calendar and invite colleagues, neighbors and friends to this inspiring event where you see green-collar job training in action!

Solar Richmond featured as Best Practice green-collar job training program in U.S. Conference of Mayors' Newsletter

RSF Social Finance visits Solar Richmond


Get Involved


Ask your friends, family and colleagues if they are thinking of going solar and refer them to us: getsolar@solarrichmond.org or they can sign-up online 


Markell Parker, 20, a program graduate and Sun Light & Power employee, installs solar at Crescent Park, an affordable housing right here in Richmond !


Solar Richmond

web: www.SolarRichmond.org
email: info@solarricmond.org
phone: +1 (510) 621-1719
fax: +1 (510) 439-2720




Solar Richmond | 360 South 27th St | Richmond | CA | 94804