FRAMINGHAM – State and local officials and family members gathered Friday morning, March 3, at the South Middlesex Opportunity Council headquarters to honor the newest graduates of the Successful Women in Clean Energy Initiative, a partnership between SMOC and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC)
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) provided SMOC with a $147,000 grant to continue the Successful Women in Clean Energy Initiative, a first of its kind program that began in 2015. The graduates, ages 24 and older, are under/unemployed, displaced or veterans from seven communities in Metro West and Boston who were recruited from career centers and other SMOC programs.
One graduate is Fanta Stafford, a Framingham resident who was referred to the program from another SMOC program that assists homeless families. She has three children and works on a per diem basis as a certified nursing assistant. Fanta also started her own bakery, Beautiful Day Bakery, where she manages the budget, inventory and customers orders. As a graduate of the clean energy program, Fanta and her classmates will be given a six-month paid fellowship with a clean energy business selected by MassCEC.
Fanta envisions this as an opportunity to start a career in a growing field and to become self sufficient with a structured schedule to meet the needs of her family.
“All of today’s graduates deserve so much credit for overcoming whatever obstacles were in their path in order to focus on a bright future for themselves and their families,” said State Rep. Jack Lewis (D-Framingham). “It is fitting that these determined women will now take a step forward into a career that will help build a safe and sustainable economy for the future of Massachusetts and the country.”
In addition to Rep. Lewis, State Rep. Chris Walsh (D-Framingham) participated in today’s event along with Rep. Carmine Gentile (D-Sudbury) and State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton).
Five days a week beginning in January, program participants attended class at SMOC’s Green Jobs Academy in Worcester and the remaining four weeks at SMOC headquarters in Framingham, where they have learned about energy conservation and efficiency with a focus on solar energy, in addition to customer service, employment and computer skills.
“The idea is to equip these women with the skills they need to be successfully employed in an innovative and growing sector of the economy,” according to Gwenn O’Keefe, director of SMOC’s Skills Training/Green Jobs Academy.
“As our state relies less on dirty fossil fuels and invests more in renewable energy, demand for jobs in the clean energy sector will continue to grow,” said Sen. Eldridge. “I applaud SMOC and MassCEC for preparing young women for these 21 st century jobs while promoting gender diversity in the renewable energy sector.”
During the six months of training, graduates learned business development strategies, marketing and clean energy sales. Throughout the program and continuing through their paid fellowships, SMOC provided participants with all phases of job training, interview coaching and mentoring, while ensuring that graduates stayed connected to the healthcare and social services they required to remain in the program. The ultimate goal, according to O’Keefe, is for program graduates to successfully transition to full-time employment.
“The Commonwealth’s clean energy industry is only as strong as its workforce, and in partnering with the South Middlesex Opportunity Council on this initiative we have helped these women empower themselves and develop the skills necessary to build careers in this vibrant and growing sector,” said MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike. “I congratulate all of the graduates and their families on this achievement and am honored to be able to celebrate with them today.”
Today’s graduates include: Tonya Goosebury of Ashland; Christine Murray, Julie Olivares, Mei-Lin Po, Fanta Stafford and Shanae Yarrell of Framingham; Flor Monroe of Marlborough; Fatima Tom of Mattapan; Toni Hammond of Maynard; and Monthyna Genece of Watertown. (Two graduates asked to withhold their names from publication)