The cleantech job boom left some communities behind. Erika Symmonds makes sure the solar economy benefits everyone.

The cleantech job boom left some communities behind.

Grist 50

Erika Symmonds makes sure the solar economy benefits everyone.

The solar industry is doing better than ever, creating well-paying jobs across the country — but those jobs aren’t evenly distributed. Oakland-based nonprofit GRID alternatives offers job training for low-income communities and people of color to help make that cleantech boom more accessible.

Erika Symmonds is at the helm of those job-training programs. She oversees existing projects and makes sure new ones reach a more diverse workforce. “Who are the people in our community who can most benefit and are most interested in this opportunity,” she asks, “and how can we make that connection?”

Raised by a single mom in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, Symmonds grew up focused on getting a good education. “What I had was pretty unique: the option of leaving the neighborhood,” she realized upon graduating from Wellesley. Plenty of people she knew back home didn’t have the same opportunity.

Her work at GRID is already making a difference: More than three quarters of program participants are people of color.

Follow Erika Symmonds

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Photo of Erika Symmonds: Samantha Tranfa, GRID Alternatives

  • Editors
    Andrew Simon, Amelia Urry
    Designers
    Mignon Khargie, Amelia Bates
    Engineer
    Nathan Letsinger
    Project Manager
    Matt Grisafi
    Social Media
    Cody Permenter
    Video Producer
    Daniel Penner
    Executive Editor
    Scott Dodd
  • Writers
    Clayton Aldern Ted Alvarez Eve Andrews Vishakha Darbha Sabrina Imbler Nathanael Johnson Samantha Larson Katie Mast Amy McDermott Emma Foehringer Merchant Caroline Saunders Darby Minow Smith Katharine Wroth Kate Yoder

Meet All The Fixers

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