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Homeboy Industries Turns Ex-Cons into Solar Installers

Homeboy Industries sees a colorful future for ex-cons in the Los Angeles area. Not in gang or prison colors, but in green collars. The LA-based nonprofit is training former gang members to install solar panels. In a partnership with the East Los Angeles Skills Center, Homeboy redirects ex-cons into a 100-hour class that introduces them to solar electrical theory, PV safety, basic load analysis, system sizing, components, hardware and other lessons in the design, construction and installation of solar power systems.

Homeboy is two decades old. Created by Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest, Homeboy helps ex-convicts find gainful employment after release, many of whom have worked in a bakery owned by the nonprofit. It was there, according to a Homeboy press release, that a customer approached Father Boyle about preparing the often young ex-cons for the cutting-edge green economy.

Furthermore, finding job placement for convicts is extraordinarily difficult in a recession. Yet the solar industry remains in short supply of qualified installers, which provides the students with better prospects for getting a job and supplies the local solar industry with much-needed manpower. Several former Homeboy students are already working and earning about $15 per hour with the prospect of more than $30 per hour down the road for experienced installers.

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