RichmondBUILD Academy - City of Richmond, California

RichmondBUILD is a public-private partnership initiative launched by the City of Richmond, California to train individuals on developing the necessary talent and skill to join careers in the renewable energy or construction industries. RichmondBUILD has focused its efforts on recruiting participants from low-income households throughout the community. Since its launch in 2007, a majority of graduates of the workforce training program have been minorities (90%), and it includes a large percentage of individuals who have a history with the justice system (30%). Since the program began in 2007, over 800 residents have been trained in the construction and renewable sectors. Over a period of sixteen weeks, participants are taught sector-specific skills in carpentry, waste removal, or green-collar positions. The goals of the program are twofold: to reduce violence in the Richmond community, and to create career opportunities that have the potential for upward advancement for underserved members of the area.

Upon acceptance, students are required to complete an apprenticeship in carpentry. After this “track” has been completed, participants can choose from several electives, including but not limited to:

  • Extended carpentry
  • Hazardous waste removal
  • Solar energy
  • Energy efficiency
  • Electrical wiring and theory 
  • Scaffolding
  • Eco literacy 
  • Roofing

As part of the solar program, students are required to assist in the installation of at least two solar installations, which include panel and energy storage installation. The recipients of solar energy systems are primarily low-income, and are financed by a low-interest loan. This allows homeowners to immediately start reducing their energy bills, and allows RichmondBUILD students to get real-world experience installing solar panels and systems. “This unique training opportunity delivers a triple benefit: participants experience effective, real-world training in solar installation, homeowners receive a solar system financed by a low-interest loan that immediately reduces their energy bills, and the planet benefits from a reduction in carbon emissions.”

The job retention rate for those who have completed the program is 85%. Of that group, the average starting salary starts at over $18.00 – well above minimum wage federally and in California.


Publication Date: 2007

Related Organizations:

  • City of Richmond, California

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  • Case study
  • Education/training materials
  • Funding program

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