Mark Ramirez was having difficulty finding regular work in the Central Valley, moving from job to job trying to make ends meet. Then he heard about GRID Alternatives in Fresno, a local non-profit organization that offers in-depth, hands-on training in solar panel installation and connects trainees with local solar employers.
Thanks to one of the scholarships funded by a $150,000 grant from a Kaiser Permanente fund at the East Bay Community Foundation, Ramirez recently completed GRID’s intensive 5-week program, graduating from its solar basics installation course. Armed with a range of new skills and a fresh resume, Ramirez quickly found a job in the solar industry.
“I want to find a great career and create a better life for myself,” Ramirez said. “This has really brightened up my mind and let me see what I can make of myself.”
Kaiser Permanente’s support of GRID Alternatives is part of a package of 4 grants recently given to Fresno area organizations totaling $500,000. The grants are designed to provide training to residents such as Ramirez and a pathway to quality jobs.
As part of a continued commitment to providing economic opportunities through access to quality jobs in our local communities, Kaiser Permanente is helping to train residents such as Ramirez and his classmates.
“One of the greatest barriers to health care is lack of steady employment,” said Phyllis Stark, chief operating officer and chief nurse executive at Kaiser Permanente Fresno. “GRID is literally putting critical job tools in the hands of its students and creating opportunities for them that may not have been there otherwise. We are proud to support GRID and its students in helping to put pathways to success, and good health, within reach.”
GRID Alternatives welcomes all students interested in learning about solar installation. Recent high school graduates, people looking to change careers, military veterans, or those seeking a second chance are welcome to the program with its opportunities to learn the practical skills needed to work in this booming industry.
A future of opportunity
Through GRID’s program students learn solar basics from the ground up, receiving extensive training in job site safety, electrical wiring, array layout, and more for both residential and commercial solar installation projects. Students also participate in nearly 100 hours of field installation projects to practice their skills. This most recent class installed solar panels for 21 residences in underserved areas of the Central Valley, including homes in Fresno, Madera, Bakersfield, and Oakdale.
“The industry wants to hire people who know how to do the work and know how to do it safely,” said Karina Gonzalez, co-executive director for GRID Alternatives. “Support from Kaiser Permanente is providing opportunities for individuals to learn critical job skills demanded by the industry and connecting them with employers in need of their talent.”
For Ramirez and his classmates, the journey continues toward a future of opportunity they may not have thought possible just a few short weeks ago.
“This support shows that someone believes in me and that I can be successful in something I want to do, and that means a lot,” Ramirez said. “Now I just gotta keep pushing and hopefully I can do something great.”