Disadvantaged Youth Mentored While Learning Skills for Green Jobs
March 2018 - Green Technical Education & Employment (Green Tech) was established in 2008 to provide career technical education with an emphasis on environmental protection to youth and young adults from disadvantaged communities. Since its inception, Green Tech has reached more than 400 students in various career training and STEM activities including solar training, agri-business, pre-apprentice construction and computer programming.
Many Green Tech students experience traumatic life experiences prior to entering Green Tech programming. Here’s a real-life example of how Green Tech provides more than just training and opportunities for inclusion amid a home life filled with economic challenges, criminal and gang activity, and dysfunctional families with few supportive and positive role models.
In 2015, two friends joined the Green Tech program together. From the beginning, behavior and attitude issues surfaced from showing up late to scheduled classroom training, disruptive conversations taking place during teaching presentations and in some instances, not showing up at all for program participation. Executive Director Simeon Gant continued to talk with these two young men about being a responsible dependable program participant in showing up on-time for each training day scheduled and being respectful to trainers and other participants in the program by not talking while presentations were being given and working cooperatively in a team environment. However, after repeated violations of program policies and rules, the disruptive behavior began to negatively impact program training days and the two friends were both expelled from the Green Tech program.
A year went by and one of the friends requested admittance back into the program. He showed promise and a renewed commitment to be a productive program participant. His choice to return was not easy; and in the face of being lured into fast money through criminal activity and influenced to engage in illegal substance abuse, he remembered the long talks with Simeon Gant of personal conduct, self-respect and good judgment when faced with hard decisions. The safe space and positive reinforcement he experienced at Green Tech lead him to graduate from high school and become a responsible adult, leading his family and to this day continues to be a conscientious program participant. He now serves as a positive role model for new students entering the Green Tech program.
The other friend has not been so lucky. His journey led him down a path all too common among boys and men of color in struggling communities with few support mechanisms. His decisions led to criminal activity resulting in an eight-year prison sentence. He had the same opportunity to return to Green Tech to gain workforce skills, on-the-job experience and program employment.
Green Tech continues to provide supportive workforce development to more than 30 youth per year within its Teaching Urban Farming, Forestry and Aquaponics (TUFFA) program, computer coding program, Green Tech Tours, Solar Technology, Energy Auditing, pre-apprentice construction and general workforce training every week throughout the city of Sacramento.
For more information and to learn how to support Green Tech please visit: http://www.greentechedu.org/