Fred Lucero, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller,
Sal Vaca at the Awards CeremonyRichmondBUILD Program Receives 2008 FBI’s Director’s Community Leadership Award
On December 10, 2008, Charlene Thornton, special agent in charge of the San Francisco office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, presented the 2008 Director’s Community Leadership Award to the RichmondBUILD Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Skills & Solar Installation Training Program.
The annual award recognizes individuals and organizations that take extraordinary steps in the area of drug and violence education and prevention.
The RichmondBUILD Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Skills & Solar Installation Training program is a public/private partnership developed as a violence reduction strategy for the city of Richmond, California. It aims to address violence in the city by providing both an innovative green jobs training program and a pathway out of crime and poverty for an at-risk population.
RichmondBUILD provides a comprehensive ten week training program that includes instruction in power tools, framing, electrical, plumbing, welding, and a strong green component that incorporates eco literacy, energy efficiency, and solar installation. As part of the training, students participate in two live solar installations for low income Richmond homeowners. This unique training opportunity delivers a triple benefit: participants experience an effective hands-on training in solar installation, homeowners receive a no-cost solar system that allows them to immediately save money on their energy bill, and our planet benefits from the reduction in carbon emissions. The total cost for the solar training component, the solar system, and installation is covered by the Housing Department of the City of Richmond.
RichmondBUILD emphasizes individual opportunity and community renewal. All program participants come from low income households, 95% are minorities, over 30% have a history with the justice system, and most read and write at or below an 8th grade level. Due to the program’s reputation for placing graduates in well-paying jobs, 75 to 100 residents compete for the 25 available seats in each class.
Since its inception in April 2007, a total of 150 participants have graduated from RichmondBUILD. The program has an impressive 90% job placement rate at an average starting wage of $18.33 an hour. The job retention rate is 85% for program graduates. Twenty five RichmondBUILD graduates have obtained green collar jobs with twenty two of those directly employed in the solar industry. Moreover, the City of Richmond’s overall crime rate is down 20% for the 2008 calendar year.
RichmondBUILD serves as a national model for an effective public/private partnership focused on green collar job training, and has been recognized by the Apollo Alliance and Green For All as a national “best practice” in their publication “Green-Collar Jobs in America’s Cities.”
RichmondBUILD’s innovative job training program is made possible by a robust partnership created by the City of Richmond’s Employment & Training Department, and includes various public and private partners. These partners include the City of Richmond’s Redevelopment Agency, Housing Authority, Housing Department, and Department of Public Works; along with community based organizations Solar Richmond, the Solar Living Institute, and Rising Sun Energy Center; West Contra Costa Adult Education, Carpenters Local 152, and a number of employers.