Energy Efficiency Program at Corps a Stepping Stone to New Opportunities for Taos Woman

The following story showcases one of The Corps Network's 2015 Award Winners. Jasmine Romero will be recognized as a 2015 Corpsmember of the Year at The Corps Network National Conference in February. More stories for our 2015 Award Winners can be found here.

Jasmine Romero was born and raised on the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. As a teenager, she moved with her mom to Albuquerque, where she graduated from high school and earned good grades. Next, she advanced to college where for about a year-and-a-half she worked toward a degree in engineering. But what came next would challenge Jasmine.

Starting with a heart attack suffered by her father back home on the Taos, Pueblo, a series of consequential events began to negatively impact Jasmine. Eventually she and her mom were forced to live out of their car. Jasmine turned to alcohol to cope with her problems, and soon it became yet another problem for her to overcome.

A little over a year later, Jasmine enrolled in Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. She had sought out counseling for alcohol abuse and heard about the program from her counselor. Jasmine says that, “At first I was hesitant about applying till I read their mission statement. The mission statement is what got me. One key phrase, ‘A stepping-stone to new opportunities,’ this simple statement meant that I had a chance to start over.”

During her term, Jasmine learned the basic skills to weatherize homes to make them more energy efficient. She obtained certifications from Santa Fe Community College in retrofit installer, lead safe practices, OSHA 10, and also First Aid and CPR. She enjoyed the work so much that she applied to return for a second season as an Assistant Crew Supervisor for the Corps’ energy efficiency program. The hard work and attention to detail that Jasmine provides when working make her well-respected among the Corps’ staff and her peers. One staff member remarked that “I know that I can leave Jazz with a task list at any point during the day and come back knowing the crew has been productive.”

Many of the homeowners who have received weatherization services from Rocky Mountain Youth Corps are thankful, including a memorably appreciative elderly woman. Jasmine recalls that “she was unsure at first, having a bunch of kids in her house, but she watched us work as a team and could see the quality work we were doing and was crying out of gratitude by the time we left.”

Jasmine is currently still serving in her second AmeriCorps term with the Corps. She hopes to continue advancing in the energy efficiency field and utilize the AmeriCorps Education Awards she has earned. The staff at the Corps think that, with additional certifications, she could very well become the first woman to serve as an official energy auditor / inspector in New Mexico—a compliment to how far Jasmine has come in developing her work skills. But she views things a little bit differently.

“I can go through and name all my certificates that I received. I can go through the trainings they have provided me and the education award that they have also presented to me. But this is not the important bits and pieces they have taught me. They have taught me how to manage myself as a person to make sure I have my priorities straight. They have taught me so much about life that I had no idea about. I have become 10 times a better person than I was before. They have taught me different types of communications, different types of personalities, and how to connect the dots between these two major characteristics of a person. I have learned how to better control my emotions whether it be at work or at home. They have helped mold me into the person I have always wanted to be.”

Boiler Plate: 
Meet Jasmine Romero, a 2015 Corpsmember of the Year.

2015 Project of the Year: California Conservation Corps' Energy Corps

Energy Corps
California Conservation Corps

In November 2012, California voters passed the Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39), establishing a fund to support projects throughout the state that improve energy efficiency and expand clean energy generation in schools. One such project is California Conservation Corps’ Energy Corps: a program launched in the fall of 2013 to help California schools conduct energy surveys and reduce energy consumption, while also providing Corpsmembers the opportunity to gain technical training in the energy field. 

The Energy Corps model is based on the idea that much of the energy work typically performed by engineers and energy analysts can, and should, be performed by entry-level employees. The goal is to open up new positions for young adults within the rapidly expanding energy efficiency industry. Energy Corps provides Corpsmembers with the skills and knowledge to complete these entry-level tasks and pursue advanced training. To date, nearly 250 California Conservation Corps (CCC) Energy Corps members have completed an 80-hour training in the fundamentals of energy use and energy efficiency; nearly 60 have completed an 80-hour course in basic lighting; 84 completed OSHA 10-hour training; and 76 finished the 12.5 hour Energy University online course.

Energy Corps members learn to work in teams to complete “whole building” Energy Opportunity Surveys, which evaluate the interior and exterior of a structure to identify current energy usage. Corpsmembers then visit schools, inspecting each building’s lighting, windows, heating, and ventilation and air-conditioning systems. The data the Corpsmembers collect about each school’s energy consumption is analyzed by energy industry experts who quantify potential energy saving opportunities and provide recommendations for how schools can implement energy and cost-saving measures.

In Energy Corps’ first year, Corpsmembers from 12 Crews in 11 locations conducted Energy Opportunity Surveys of 900 schools. They evaluated 7,400 structures and 36 million square feet of building space. The data from these surveys has allowed analysts to recommend actions schools can take to save more than 50 million kWh annually and millions of dollars. Not to mention, many of the schools where Energy Corps works are in low-income communities. Without the services provided by Energy Corps, these schools would likely not be able to hire an outside firm to conduct an energy survey, which is required in order to receive state funding to pursue energy efficiency projects.

In addition to conducting surveys, Energy Corps members also have the skills to install basic energy efficiency retrofits at the schools, including lighting and control upgrades. Corpsmembers also complement their training by providing presentations about energy conservation to students at the schools where they serve.

Through Energy Corps, the CCC is tackling some of America’s Greatest Challenges – including youth unemployment and climate change – by creating public service work and youth training opportunities in the energy sector. 

California Governor Jerry Brown Filmed for California Conservation Corps Video

Photo by Christian Schneider.

Story provided by the California Conservation Corps

California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. was filmed this week talking about the California Conservation Corps' Energy Corps, which has done hundreds of energy audits for California schools. The work is funded through the state's Proposition 39 initiative. The Governor's remarks, which also included reflections about today's CCC along with the program he created in 1976, will be included in videos for the Corps. Sacramento corpsmember Nick Mathews, shown with the Governor, is a member of one of the CCC energy crews.

A recent video made by the California Conservation Corps depicted "A day in the life of a Corpsmember" and featured footage and audio of Governor Brown talking about the value of the Corps. 

Boiler Plate: 
California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. was filmed this week talking about the California Conservation Corps' Energy Corps, which has done hundreds of energy audits for California schools.

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin pays a visit to Civic Works


Press Release from the Office of Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.)

August 29, 2014
For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Sue Walitsky 202-224-4524/Tim Zink 410-962-4436

Cardin Meets Students, Employers at Civic Works’ Baltimore Center for Green Careers

“The green technology sector is one of the most overlooked growth areas of our economy. Opportunities are everywhere.”

BALTIMORE, Md. – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate committees on Finance and Environment and Public Works, today toured the educational facilities and met with current students and graduates of Civic Works’ Baltimore Center for Green Careers. The center is helping to build an inclusive and equitable green economy by providing job training in brownfields remediation, home energy efficiency retrofitting and green space beautification, among other programs.

Senator Cardin participated in demonstrations of the hands-on training laboratory for energy retrofit installers, attended a career fair for recent graduates of Civic Works’ brownfields remediation training and participated in a roundtable discussion with graduates, staff and supporters of the program.    

“Green jobs are helping our communities and, at Civic Works, providing a fresh start for those willing to work for it. More than 400 people have graduated from these programs since 2003 and the program maintains an average job placement rate of 85 percent,” said Senator Cardin. “That’s incredibly successful, especially considering that 9 of 10 graduates had a history of involvement in the criminal justice system. What’s more, by gaining skills in brownfields remediation and improving residential energy efficiency, the types of jobs done by the program’s graduates enhance the environment for all Marylanders.”

The Baltimore Center for Green Careers has a unique model that combines workforce development, social enterprise and demand generation. It is one of Civic Works’ key program areas; others include community improvement, workforce development, and education.

Civic Works builds partnerships between AmeriCorps members and the community. AmeriCorps members tutor and mentor students, create community parks and gardens, help homeowners conserve energy, grow food for low-income residents, rehabilitate abandoned houses, involve families in Baltimore City schools, make homes safer for older adults, and recruit volunteers. Civic Works also trains Baltimore residents for employment in the healthcare and green job industries.

“The program’s success shows what the power of partnerships can do for our communities,” Senator Cardin said. “It also proves that we can build greener communities and strengthen our economy at the same time.”