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I95 Business – The POWER Behind Power52

By June 14, 2019January 13th, 2021No Comments

I know that we can save underserved communities in Baltimore,” Ray Lewis empathetically declares. With all the negative stories in the press coming out of Baltimore, these may seem like strong words and a challenging goal, but for anyone who has watched and listened to Ray Lewis over the years, one would be foolish to doubt that he will deliver. While people are more familiar with Lewis as the two-time Super Bowl champion and 12-time Pro Bowler for the Baltimore Ravens, he is also a co-founder of Power52, Inc., and vice president of Power52 Energy Solutions. Pairing together Power52 Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, with Power52 Energy Solutions, a for-profit corporation, the mission is to train and employ disadvantaged individuals within the clean energy sector and improve access to clean energy to historically underserved communities in Baltimore and across the nation. Power52 Foundation is led by co-founder and CEO Cherie Brooks, a Baltimore City native who is passionate about transforming the lives of at-risk adults, returning citizens and at-risk individuals in the nation’s historically underserved communities. Brooks wears many hats – leader, fundraiser, educator and sometimes cheerleader – and helps chart a better course for the lives of the men and women who come though the workforce development program she oversees. “Power52 Energy Institute is the first Clean Energy Private Career School approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission,” says Brooks, of the workforce training program. She notes that it is also accredited by The National Center for Construction, Education & Research (NCCER). Each cohort is 11 weeks and includes classroom instruction, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certification, CPR training, lab hours and job readiness training. The standardized curriculum covers the basic concepts of Solar Photovoltaic systems and their components. Each Power52 Energy Institute graduate earns a Power52 Certificate of Completion, NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners), NCCER and OSHA-10 credentials, enabling them to immediately enter the clean energy workforce. Jobs after graduation start as high as $19 to $20 an hour. “Even if they decide solar is not for them, they can walk onto any construction site and be prepared to be hired. NCCER has a large footprint in the construction industry, so having that NCCER certification opens doors,” says Brooks. “We’ve also had individuals graduate and go into sales and graphic design because they understand the technical aspect of solar.” Power52 Energy Solutions is actively involved in ensuring that the curriculum is aligned to meet workforce needs. Rob Wallace, co-founder and president of Power52 Energy Solutions, who has more than 11 years’ experience in program management, renewable energy systems design and development, systems implementation, training and technology management, says that one of the first elements of the program is to change how the participants view themselves. “The street way of living has to change. We must reinvent the individual in three ways: spiritual in that your past does not dictate your future; physical through nutrition and health lessons; and technical with the skills to work in the solar industry,” says Wallace. “These individuals have been told they are not smart and will not be successful. We have to tear them down to the foundation and then rebuild them.” Wallace says that one of the key components is mentorship. “I had a mentor in construction – George Brown, who built over 150 churches.