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Climate Tech Startup Creates Hundreds of Jobs for Youth in Brownsville

BlocPower was given a $37 million investment by the City to create 1,500 jobs for youth in neighbords affected by violence
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BlocPower has created 1,500 jobs for youth in NYC.

Young people from Brownsville, South Jamaica, East and Central Harlem and the Bronx will have the chance to work for climate tech startup BlocPower as part of a new program being run in partnership with the City.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that the city had created a new $37 million violence intervention employment program that will connect young people at risk of involvement in gun violence with good-paying green jobs at Brooklyn-based climate technology startup BlocPower.

The precision employment program focuses on communities experiencing 50% or more of shootings citywide, with explicit interest in those most vulnerable in these neighborhoods, the City said.

The BlocPower team. Photo: BlocPower / Supplied

The first wave of hiring will include over 200 residents from neighborhoods facing disproportionate levels of gun violence, and local community organizations will be tasked with referring at-risk teens in Brownsville, Brooklyn; Mott Haven in the Bronx; and South Jamaica, Queens. Those teens will receive hard and soft skills training to prepare them for employment before getting matched with placements at various job sites. The jobs will all pay $20 an hour or more.

The hybrid training curriculum includes OSHA training, classes on business communication and technical skills, conflict resolution strategies, de-escalation techniques and access to culturally competent, trauma-based counseling and other wrap-around services.  Once training is completed, participants will be certified on various green energy technologies and eligible for in-demand, good-paying jobs, such as those with BlocPower.

Since its founding in 2014, the company has retrofitted more than 1,100 buildings in under-served communities in New York City, with projects underway in 26 cities. Recently, it became one of 15 companies nationwide awarded a spot in Apple's Impact Accelerator program for businesses on the cutting edge of green technology and clean energy.

CEO of BlocPower Donnel Baird. Photo: Supplied / BlocPower

Donnel Baird, CEO and co-founder of BlocPower, said his company "stands ready to help at-risk New York City young people break the cycle of gun violence" by introducing them to a career in clean energy that will improve their lives and the lives of millions of other people.

 "This project addresses social, economic and environmental injustices that impact low-income neighborhoods, and people of color, and aligns with what BlocPower is trying to accomplish — improving the health and well-being of New Yorkers and creating opportunities to bring economic prosperity back to the communities that need it most." 

The targeted green jobs program is the latest effort by the City to address the recent increase in gun violence, while investing in the long-term success of both communities and residents, the City said.

"A recovery for all of us does not exist unless each and every New Yorker feels safe," de Blasion said.

"By providing training and employment opportunities to those at risk of gun violence, we can stop violence before it happens and invest in safer communities."