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Project Name: Bright Solar Futures
Funding Opportunity: Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2018 Funding Program (SETO FY2018)
SETO Subprogram: Soft Costs
Location: Philadelphia, PA
DOE Award Amount: $1.25 million
Awardee Cost Share: $46,500
Planned Timeline: 2019-2022

-- Award and cost share amounts are subject to change pending negotiations --

This project will expand efforts in Philadelphia to develop a new, replicable workforce training program for high school and underemployed youth to enter the region’s solar industry. The curriculum will include solar installation, construction safety, an introduction to solar sales and design, energy retrofitting, and other job-readiness training. Successful program graduates will be placed in internships with local employers and receive ongoing program support to increase the likelihood of job retention.

High school students practice installing solar panels on a mock roof
High school students practice installing solar panels on a mock roof as part of the Philadelphia Energy Authority's training program. Photo by Solar States.

APPROACH

The Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA) is partnering with the School District of Philadelphia, solar and clean energy companies, and education specialists to establish the nation’s first solar energy program of study for high school students. A program of study is a three-year vocational program designed to prepare students for postsecondary school or careers. PEA will work with the School District of Philadelphia to develop a three-year curriculum to train students for solar energy careers. The project team will create a list of competencies needed for graduation, which will require approval from a local solar industry occupational advisory committee. PEA will also offer intensive solar energy training and internships to more than 100 students and develop a sustainable funding model to train underemployed youth for solar jobs.

INNOVATION

The Bright Solar Futures curriculum will be developed in partnership with Philadelphia-area solar industry professionals to ensure students graduate with the necessary job skills for solar employment. The occupational advisory council will enable ongoing feedback between the solar industry and the solar program of study to ensure industry needs are met. After the award period, the program will be self-sustaining through Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education funds, available to school districts across Pennsylvania.

Young trainees in the Philadelphia Energy Authority solar training program flip the switch on the 150th Solarize Philly installation.
Young trainees in the Philadelphia Energy Authority solar training program flip the switch on the 150th Solarize Philly installation. Photo by Jared Piper, Philadelphia City Council.