Last week, GRID Alternatives and SunPower announced their latest partnership — the Solar Futures program. The program is geared at high school students, a group that GRID Alternatives has worked with many times before.The Solar Futures program will provide both classroom and hands-on training to high school juniors and seniors. SunPower has donated 1 MW of high-efficiency solar panels and inverters to the program. This is enough to power about 300 homes.
“Real change starts with our youth which is why SunPower invests in solar and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education initiatives at schools around the world, helping students experience the technology first-hand and learn about diverse career paths available to them in the growing renewable energy sector,” said Tom Werner, SunPower president and CEO. “We look forward to working with GRID Alternatives on the Solar Futures program, building on our combined expertise bringing solar from rooftops to classrooms.”
Since 2010, GRID Alternatives has been working with high school students in California. This new program will help to expand their program nationally, with a continued focus on the Inland Empire region of California, where these programs began.
“The Inland Empire of California has been hit hard by the recession and there aren’t many opportunities for our youth. We created the Solar Futures program to provide high school students real-world experience and exposure to various career paths in the fast-growing solar industry, including sales, design, and installation. Through hands-on outreach and solar installations for low-income families, the youth give back to their own communities while gaining valuable technical and soft skills to help propel their careers or future education. GRID Alternatives has already worked with over 100 students in three high schools in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, and we are excited to expand our partnerships with other area high schools thanks to SunPower’s support,” said Bambi Tran, GRID Alternatives Inland Empire Regional Director.
The students are the real winners here. Laura Gallardo, coordinator of the CORE Academy at Arroyo Valley High School in San Bernardino, which participated in GRID’s program this year, said, “A lot of the students are looking forward to putting the newfound knowledge and skills to use when they graduate, and now have the experience on their resumes while looking for jobs or applying for college,”
In their 10-year history, GRID Alternatives has installed over 12 MW of solar for over 4000 low-income families. Nearly 950 of those families have gone solar through their partnership with SunPower. The next 10 years are certain to have more great things in store for everyone’s solar future.