Special to the Gazette
PowerCorpsBOS joined A Better City and Roxbury Community College (RCC) for an orientation event to receive an overview of the newest PowerCorps building operations career pathway, skills to support the transition to energy efficiency and carbon reduction in Boston buildings. This program is a partnership between PowerCorpsBOS, Roxbury Community College’s Center for Smart BuildingTechnology and A Better City (ABC). Program participants will study at RCC’s Center for Smart Building Technology and receive in-service learning opportunities within large buildings coordinated by A Better City.
“Creating career pathways through skills and job training is essential to growing our green workforce, especially as we work to transition more buildings to renewable, efficient energy,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I’m grateful to our partners for working with us and the students participating for their commitment to helping lay the foundation for a clean, green future.”
PowerCorpsBos works to train residents for green jobs after program completion, while focusing on career pathways into jobs that work to mitigate climate change to protect the environment. The first PowerCorps cohort graduated in December. All of the 21 program graduates either have a new green job or are enrolled in additional training. An ‘earn and learn’ program, PowerCorpsBos pays members to participate in hands-on training and provides them with career readiness support, and connections to employers in the green industry. PowerCorpsBOS is a partnership that is led by the Worker Empowerment Cabinet and the Environment Department, in collaboration with Community Safety, Office of Youth Employment and Opportunity, and Boston Centers for Youth & Families. The goals of PowerCorpsBOS are to promote workforce development for young people in growing industries while supporting environmental stewardship.
“The core mission of PowerCorpsBos is to create pathways to earn a livable wage while also helping to care for the environment,” said Davo Jefferson, Executive Director of PowerCorpsBos. “We are grateful to partner with RCC and ABC to ensure PowerCorps graduates are able to move directly into careers in the green building industry.”
“In Boston, 70 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions come from the building sector,” said Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space. “By creating a building operations career pathway through PowerCorps, these graduates are preparing for high quality careers which will support our carbon neutrality goals.”
“Congratulations to PowerCorpsBOS for creating this innovative partnership with Roxbury Community College and A Better City,” said Trinh Nguyen, Chief of Worker Empowerment. “Expanding opportunities for sustainable jobs at living wages is part of the City and Worker Empowerment’s mission and we look forward to facilitating this new pathway.”
The building operations pathway is training for jobs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in large buildings by teaching participants skills to maintain building operations at peak efficiency. The curriculum is being offered by RCC’s Center for Smart Building Technology in their state of the art lab and includes topics ranging from conducting energy audits to maintaining electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems. Participants will learn on the job with the goal of transitioning to an employee at the end of the six month training program.
A Better City has supported this partnership by working with member businesses and institutions to establish in-service learning opportunities in Boston-based large buildings. Participating organizations include the City of Boston, Beacon Capital Partners and their building operator partner, NEWMARK, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, C&W Services, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, JLL, and MassGeneral Hospital. A Better City’s work has been made possible by support from the Linde Family Foundation and the Barr Foundation.
The inaugural PowerCorps cohort were trained in urban forestry. The 21 graduates assisted 87 acres of public land, removed 284 bags of invasive material, worked with 18 service project partners, planted 61 trees, underwent 16 hours of tree climbing training, earned three college credits from UMass Mount Ida in Arboriculture, talked to 68 employees in private to public industry, worked with four different City departments, pruned 32 trees, attended International Society of Arboriculture New England chapter conference, participated in 12 hours of mock interviews, and completed 16 hours of financial literacy courses. Graduates worked with Boston Housing Authority and UMass Mount Ida Campus to learn skills like tree protection, including pruning, felling, limbing, and bucking.
The City of Boston’s green jobs program is inspired by the Philadelphia PowerCorpsPHL model that builds opportunities for young people by tackling pressing environmental challenges and developing the skills required to secure meaningful work. The priority of PowerCorpsBOS is to create equitable and inclusive workforce pipelines into green jobs for historically marginalized young people. Priority populations include returning citizens, court-involved residents, youth who have experienced homelessness or housing instability, and young people who have been in foster care. In Boston, the program is designed with “earn and learn” practices to ensure that members enter and succeed in career green job pathways. Members go through specifically tailored phases, in a field of their choosing, that embed service and equity, as well as direct connections to job openings. The program also offers connections to continuing education opportunities, including through the City’s Tuition Free Community College program. Not only current PowerCorps members, but also their families and alumni who are Boston residents, are eligible for TFCC.
“This partnership is not only a wonderful opportunity but essential to diversify the industry and create economic self-sufficiency for our community members,” said RCC Interim President Jackie Jenkins-Scott. “RCC is proud to offer both workforce and degree programs in Smart Building Technology, ensuring Boston residents are leaders in this growing field.”
“Public private partnerships are a vital strategy for building a green and growing city for everyone,” said Yve Torrie, Director of Climate, Energy & Resilience at A Better City. “This PowerCorpsBOS partnership is poised to enhance our City’s economic health and competitiveness, while promoting equitable growth for the in-demand jobs of today and tomorrow. We are immensely grateful to the City of Boston for their vision, to RCC for their curriculum expertise, and to the participating A Better City member companies and institutions for stepping up to provide real-world training and employment opportunities.”
“We are thrilled to support the City of Boston’s program to build and train a workforce that will run the energy efficient buildings of the future,” said Jim Tierney, JLL New England Market Director and A Better City Board Chair. “A Better City member companies are providing state-of-the-art buildings as a training opportunity for hands-on experience in building operations. These buildings showcase the latest in technology and sustainability preparing trainees for the jobs of the future.”