Solar Helps Save the Hood


Homeboy Industries offers courses in solar installation to former LA gang members, helping them get on the path to success in a new career. The nonprofit also has plans to go solar with the help of Everybody Solar, another nonprofit based in San Francisco.


“It takes the hood to save the hood” states a large plain black billboard with white letters, near the corner of Van Ness and Market in San Francisco. The quote comes from Rudy Corpuz Jr. — an ex-felon turned community activist — and his work with United Playaz in San Francisco. In his May 2013 presentation at UC Davis, Corpuz emphasizes that saving the hood requires love and understanding of the kids in the hood. The solution starts with good education.

Change scenes to an LA hood, where Homeboy Industries has been educating and helping high-risk, formerly gang-involved men and women change their lives since 1988. It is the largest gang intervention and rehabilitation program in the U.S., providing counseling, tattoo removal, and vocational education.

This vocational education at Homeboy Industries offers a variety of courses, including College Readiness, Anger Management and Parenting, Financial Literacy, and now … a Solar Panel Training and Installation Certification Program. This program was made possible by a generous donation of solar panels from SunEdison.

Homeboy Industries founder Father Gregory Boyle says, “When we select potential career tracks for our clients we need to be confident that they’ll be able to earn a living for years to come so they won’t try to return to a gang for survival. We included solar in our job training program because it’s one of the fastest growing segments in the U.S. economy. We really appreciate the donation from SunEdison as it enables the men and women we serve to train on the same equipment they’ll be working with in the field; putting them on the path to success in their new career.”

In fact, Homeboy Industries has plans to not only train solar installers but to go solar themselves, with the help of Everybody Solar, a San Francisco nonprofit.

The job opportunities for the newly certified solar installers look sunny, as President Obama pushes to increase solar energy production.

Homeboy Industries’ installers will be well-positioned to find work across the country. On the west coast, California and Arizona showed the highest quantity of solar jobs in 2013. On the east coast, installers may have good chances to find work in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York, which ranked third, fourth, and fifth, respectively for solar jobs in 2013.

Emerson wrote, “Every industrious man, in every lawful calling, is a useful man.”

Now, thanks to Homeboy Industries and Sun Edison, young men and women from the hood can be lawfully industrious, and put their valuable skills to use in the community.