Getting to and from a work site is often cited by job seekers as a major challenge for securing and maintaining a new job. Programs that provide flexible transportation can be a critical link between qualified candidates in under-represented communities and new sustainability-focused jobs spurred on by the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and other state and federal policies.
STEP-UP – short for Solar Training and Education Partnerships for Underserved Populations – partners with national organizations to bring solar installation training to low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities as part of community solar projects, which are hosted on commercial rooftops by national commercial real estate leaders. STEP-UP has trained nearly 2,500 residents in Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and New Mexico.
“We are thrilled to be making an impact with such an innovative solution to a key challenge in our nation’s clean energy economy,” said Celia Moreno, Social Impact Lead at Lyft. “Together with Edison Job Corps and Solar Landscape, we can introduce people to good jobs that serve nearby communities and fight climate change.”
The project was facilitated by Solar Landscape’s STEP-UP leadership, Kate Gold, who identified the need for reliable and flexible transportation at the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ Clean Energy Conference last year.
“This partnership is truly a bridge to brighter futures,” said Kate Gold, Director of Workforce at Solar Landscape. “As the demand for commercial rooftop solar continues to surge, so does the need for jobs in the sector. We’re grateful to Lyft and Edison Job Corps for innovating with us to creatively connect community members to jobs in clean energy and help kickstart new careers.”
Edison Job Corps will administer the program by providing the Lyft credits to its trainees and graduates.
“Our clean energy future can be inclusive and empowering, thanks to our work together,” said Tony Staynings, Business Community Liaison at Edison Job Corps in Edison, New Jersey. “Providing transportation to our students is an important complement to the training and recruitment programs we offer. Now, our students can join the clean energy workforce and be an active participant in fighting climate change.”
A Vehicle for Changing Lives
For one Edison Job Corps graduate, transportation to a new part-time job is the essential link toward a new career.
dison resident Zionjah Evans recently got a job at the Menlo Park Mall but lacked transportation options. For her de ella, the job represented a first step toward a new career after her training at Edison Job Corps. She estimates that paying for rides every day could cost nearly $500, quickly eating into her newfound earnings from her.
“I came to Job Corps with a purpose, my end goal is to get a job in my trade, get an apartment, and start my life journey,” says Evans, 21, who was born in St. Thomas and immigrated to New Jersey for career opportunities. “I'm really trying to make a better life for myself.”
Once they complete their training at Edison Job Corps, graduates of the STEP-UP partnership will follow in Evans' footsteps and use Lyft credits to access new family-sustaining jobs in solar installation.