Homeboy Industries hosted a celebration at its downtown Los Angeles headquarters Tuesday for Homeboy’s Solar Panel Training program.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joined Homeboy Industries founder Father Greg Boyle at the celebration. With support from the Boeing Company, Bronson Knapp Foundation and Union Bank, and a recent investment of $100,000 from AT&T, the program will train more than 100 previously incarcerated or gang-affiliated individuals in solar panel installation during 2016.
“Formerly incarcerated men and women deserve a second chance to rebuild their lives, and a big part of that is making sure they have good job opportunities,” Garcetti said. “Homeboy Industries has changed thousands of lives by giving people the tools they need to reenter the workforce and provide for their families. This solar training program builds on that success by quickly linking people to paychecks, and helping to create a more sustainable Los Angeles.”
The program partners with the East Los Angeles Skills Center, and has trained more than 500 individuals in solar panel installation since 2008.
“We are thrilled to welcome AT&T to the Homeboy Solar family and to have the opportunity to thank The Boeing Company, Bronson Knapp Foundation and Union Bank for their ongoing commitment to our program. We are grateful to all of our partners, including Mayor Garcetti, for continued leadership in pushing for green approaches to reentry by investing in our program,” said Thomas J. Vozzo, CEO of Homeboy Industries. “By fostering our solar program, the men and women who come through our doors can simultaneously work to overcome their pasts and train in smarter and greener practices for future generations.”
Homeboy’s Solar Panel Training program has been a pathway to success for many people including David Andrade, who came to Homeboy in 2013 after serving a 10-year prison sentence. Andrade worked his way up to assistant program coordinator for the solar panel program, and he helps trainees find the confidence necessary to succeed.
“There was a point in my life when I thought I could never do good for society,” Andrade said. “But now, through my work in Homeboy’s Solar Panel Training Program, I feel lucky to give back and help others while investing in renewable energy. I’m really proud of how our program is now contributing to creating a safer community and a healthier planet.”
With 82 graduates in 2015, Homeboy’s program secured 109 job placements, as many graduates were placed in multiple positions at companies like Semper Solaris, Solar Service Center and Wegen Solar. Thirty-four graduates also passed the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners test, which leads to higher pay for solar installation jobs. The number constitutes a 63 percent passing rate for Homeboy’s participants, compared to a 40 percent passing rate nationwide.
Homeboy will expand its vocational training programs in 2016 in the construction and manufacturing industries. The organization also plans to further develop vocational opportunities in the culinary and business sectors.
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