By Tiffany Ginyard, AFRO Managing Editor
Ten individuals from Baltimore City and surrounding counties recently graduated from Power52 Energy Institute poised for a life of sustained success and self-sufficiency. The institute is the centerpiece of Power52, a solar initiative that provides employment training for at-risk adults, returning citizens, and underserved individuals in preparation for careers in the solar industry as well as other green job opportunities.
Connected over collective interests to create solutions to social challenges in disadvantaged communities, Cherrie Brooks, a Baltimore-based solar developer; Rob Wallace, a real estate executive; and Ray Lewis an iconic NFL star designed a workforce program dedicated to creating community solutions using solar initiatives for a long-term community development strategy of breaking cycles of poverty, unemployment, under employment and incarceration in urban communities across the nation.
Former Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis (Courtesy Photo)
From their deeply rooted faith, the three shared a vision of strengthening individuals from the inside and the pride that comes when one builds his future with his own hands.
Power52 Energy Institute in Baltimore City offers an accredited eleven-week comprehensive training program which includes services to help ensure that the people are successful. Power 52 believes that, “much like the power itself, the future and opportunities of those it benefits should be sustainable too.”
Here, former Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis tells the AFRO shares how Power52 has impacted lives and why he’s aligned his life’s work with this initiative.
AFRO: How did you get started with this initiative?
Ray Lewis: Well I think it was a collective vision that we all came together on with very quickly after the unrest of Freddie grey in 2015 you know, after walking the streets and trying to find out what the real issue was stemming from, you know the quality of jobs we came to hone in on. Then we sat down a few times and really thought about it, worked on it and Me, Cherrie and Daniel came up with how we could use what Rob and his father have done for many years with this energy, and solar. So, we sat down and thought how do we make this work for the community, how do we truly add to the workforce element. And I think that’s how this just naturally happened and with me being a part of it was kind of a natural thing.
AFRO: How does Power52 Institute prepare individuals with tools for self-sufficiency?
Ray Lewis: True tools! like tools you can actually steal. Things you can look at when you go through our course, and one of the reason we have an 85 percent placement rate. The moment somebody leaves or graduates Power 52’s 11 to 16-week program, we are getting people jobs immediately. And keep in mind, these are people that have been told, “You can’t,” and “No, your record does not show this,” and “You got this history of this.” Everybody has made a mistake somewhere in life and that’s why the rebuilding of individuals and giving them their imagination back again is important.
Think about solar energy and climate change. Think about all of these different things that are starting to happen. When I tell you we are one of the very few black companies in solar. But that’s the way we are going; our planet is going solar regardless. We have to; the climate is dictating it and everything around us is dictating it. So we are saying as a company, “No we will not be last in this field.” “No we will be more engaged in this field and we will educate people so they can understand how not to just hold a job.”
AFRO: Why makes this initiative unique?
Ray Lewis: I’ve been a part of Baltimore a long time. From day one living in Baltimore, I asked, “why don’t we have anyone from the community working in our community? The reason I am going this route is to show the power of Power 52. Power 52 takes us in each and every community; and it does not hustle the community, it does not ponder something that cannot happen. We promise you a new life, we promise you a new path, but you have to do the work. That’s the beauty of it!