With Green Energy Jobs Rising, Companies Out of Massachusetts Are Determined To Provide Employment To Underserved, Black and Brown Communities
Climate change – including questions about whether it exists and what to do about it – dominates weather reports, business and political news. It is also driving equally critical conversations about equity, education and jobs.
Clean energy — a high growth sector of the U.S. economy — rose 3.9% in 2022, compared to a 3.1% increase in overall jobs throughout the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Because clean energy jobs are projected to continue growing, deliberate action is essential to ensure that people of all races and economic strata are poised to capitalize on the opportunity.
As a result of climate change, ethnic minorities are among a handful of vulnerable groups that consistently face “disproportionate challenges in terms of extreme events, health effects, food, water, and livelihood security, migration and forced displacement, loss of cultural identity and other risks.” Flint, Michigan, is just one relevant instance.
Organizations like Browning the Green Space (BGS) in Massachusetts — one of the nation’s leading clean energy states — are leading the way through partnerships with green energy companies of all sizes and segments in the industry, helping companies recruit, train and empower underserved populations.
“A green wave or, better yet, tsunami of quality job opportunities is upon us and presents an opportunity for us to change the face of the clean energy and climate industry as we know it,” said Kerry Bowie, executive director and president of Browning the Green Space. “We are working with cross-sector leaders to create opportunities, and break down barriers for Black and Brown job seekers to thrive in the growing green economy.”
Founded in 2020, BGS has worked with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to pair 42 college interns of diverse backgrounds with paid job opportunities in the state’s green economy. The company is also working with a New York based organization called BlocPower, to connect formerly incarcerated citizens with entry-level jobs in the high performance building sector.
Massachusetts is home to other efforts designed to grow the green economy and the workforce that will power it. For example, in June, the Massachusetts Community Climate Bank was established with $50 million in seed funding dedicated to leveraging federal and private sector funds to accelerate the development of affordable, decarbonized housing developments. The first of its kind, the Bank will be the state’s “financial engine for moving forward on our climate goals, relieving the pressure of high housing costs, and creating good jobs and healthier communities,” according to Governor Maura Healey.
Additionally, the newly launched Climate Beacon Project is holding its first climate conference in Boston this month.
Sonali Anderson interned with BGS during the summer of 2022, and graduated from Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Science degree in business and environmental studies. Following her internship experience with BGS, Anderson secured full-time employment with the largest climate tech startup incubator in North America, Greentown Labs. In this role, she leads a transformative 12-month program tailored to the needs of BIPOC founders called ACCEL, a program developed in partnership between BGS and Greentown Labs.
“There are not many organizations out there that are tackling issues of environmental justice at the same time as economic justice and social justice,” said Anderson. “Working at BGS exposed me to many possible avenues for applying my passion for diversity, equity and inclusion within the clean energy and climate economy.”
While green companies in Massachusetts are looking to give equal opportunities to underserved communities statewide, the recent Supreme Court ruling on Affirmative Action may exacerbate the challenges facing working adults and students like Anderson who have an interest, affinity and the need for work in this burgeoning industry. The ruling further complicates the already difficult task of specifically uplifting underserved populations, which are more often Black and hispanic.