Power52 solar training

Power52 Brings Energy Sector Job Training to Urban Communities

July 21, 2017
Power52 exists to strengthen communities and inspire people to achieve their potential, through hands-on job training in the energy sector. Read more about this program and its founders.

The Renewable Energy Sector's demand for new, career-minded recruits continues to be of primary concern for employers across the United States.

In response to this need, contractors, manufacturers, vocational schools and other learning institutions have launched wide-ranging informational campaigns designed to explain the value of careers in the solar industry. 

And there’s one Baltimore, Md.-based organization that’s working in a special way to help grow those career opportunities for youth in urban communities, who have been more affected than others by the hard knocks of life, at a very young age. It’s called the Power52 Foundation, which is funded in part by Power52 Energy Solutions.

Power 52 Foundation exists to strengthen communities and inspire people to achieve their potential through hands-on job training in the energy sector. Power52’s long-term community development strategy is designed to break the cycles of poverty, unemployment, under employment and incarceration in our Urban Communities across the nation, while simultaneously advancing communities’ resilience through a sustainable strategy.

Power52 finds locations in the city and trains its community members to construct solar farms that will provide access to clean energy, classroom instruction, on the job training, and long term employment opportunities.

Power52’s Energy Professional Training program is accredited by The National Center for Construction, Education & Research (NCCER). Each cohort is sixteen weeks with 320 hours of training which includes 225 hours of classroom instruction, OSHA 10, 75 lab hours, 20 hours of job readiness, and four weeks of on-the-job training.

Their standardized curriculum covers the basic concepts of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems and their components. It also explains how PV systems are sized, designed, and installed. Power52 Energy Solutions have been instrumental in overseeing that the training curriculum is aligned to meet workforce needs and the needs of their employment partners, as well as facilitating the transition from training to employment by overseeing the four weeks of paid, supervised job training. 

Students successfully completing the required instructional and lab hours of the course and passing all module exams will sit for the North American Board of Certified Energy Professionals (NABCEP) Entry Level Associates Exam administered by Power52. Once all requirements have been met, students will receive NCCER Credentials, Power52 Certificate, OSHA-10 Certificate, and Entry on the NABCEP Associate Credential directory. 

Power52, Energy Solutions and Power52 Foundation were founded by Rob D. Wallace, Cherie Brooks, and Ray Lewis of Baltimore Ravens fame.

Rob Wallace is an electrical and energy engineer, project manager and business consultant, with more than a decade of experience in program management, renewable energy systems design and development, systems implementation, training and technology management. His company is Power52 Energy Solutions, which offers intelligent strategies and full implementation services for development of clean energy solutions, managing energy consumption, and smart grid infrastructure build-out.

Cherie Brooks’ career history includes developing STEM centers for local schools to introduce youth to renewable and clean technologies. She is also very experienced in establishing and managing telecommunications sites for Verizon and AT&T.

Under Cherie’s guidance, Power52 foundation has launched its first training facility in Baltimore City, Maryland, which is an authorized NABCEP provider and accredited by the National Center for Construction Education and Research.

Ray Lewis leverages his fame as an NFL great and Super Bowl champion to bring attention and visibility to the program throughout the community.

We spoke with Cherie Brooks recently, about the history mission and future of Power52.

How was Power52 Started?
Cherie Brooks: Rob Wallace has been in the solar industry for over a decade.  He’s a co-founder of a solar company — BITHenergy — and I felt that we could take what he was doing and offer it to low-income individuals through the non-profit Power52 Foundation.

Renewable energy is great for the environment, and we're tapping into all that we can to help people benefit from it.

I suggested to Rob that we could host “solar summits,” where we would educate CEOs of companies, and trustees of different churches, to show how they could benefit from solar power. We would be helping them benefit and be blessed from what we had to offer. We did a few of those and they were very successful.

But after the Baltimore riots in 2015, we said, ‘Enough is enough.’  I told Rob that these people in urban areas need to have something they can utilize, some credentials and education that will help them live prosperous lives.

Our hearts poured out for everything that had been going on across the nation, and looked for something we could do right away.

Then I thought about Ray Lewis, who I had known from my work in radio. I knew Ray was passionate about rebuilding our community, and felt that he and Rob were so similar that once we started talking I felt it would be something powerful.

What is the current status of Power52’s community outreach?
Cherie Brooks: Right now, we are in our pilot program, partnered with the Living Classrooms Foundation.  The Living Classrooms Foundation strengthens communities and inspires young people to achieve their potential through hands-on education and job training, using urban, natural, and maritime resources as "living classrooms."

The Power52 training center is located at the Under Armour House, an expanded community center with tutoring, a job center and a neighborhood kitchen. Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank funded it in partnership with Living Classrooms. The renovated building opened in November, 2016.

On July 27th, we will have a graduation of our first class, and they will begin installing solar power for three of the Living Classroom Community Centers, which we will call ‘resiliency hubs.’ These hubs are solar powered, with battery backup storage so that it can be powered off the grid for 72 hours. This will allow the community center and surrounding individuals living in the community to have a place to come to in the event of power outages or other emergencies. It will also offer first responders for fire, police, snow removal, the food bank, and Red Cross.

We have an upcoming community event on Thursday August 3rd, where we will  educate the community about the resiliency hubs and what community solar energy is all about, and how to get involved. We will tell the community about the training program that is right in their neighborhood and how it can help them make a great wage and enhance their future.

We will also do two big events over the summer. We partnered with Chief Melvin Russell of the Baltimore City Police Department and “Somebody Cares” Baltimore, where we put on a big event called the “Day of Hope.” So we offer one event geared towards East Baltimore and one for West Baltimore. There are many things going on at the “Day of Hope.” There are many different service providers, and we also recruit during that time as well.

Looking ahead, we would like to have an event in Howard County, and also in Washington, DC, Florida, New York, and New Jersey.

NFL great Ray Lewis — who will be a keynote speaker at Contractor Leadership LIVE in Cleveland on September 14 — is actively helping promote and grow the Foundation.

Cherie Brooks: Yes, Ray helps create the partnerships and helps to open the doors. For example, we normally might need a year and a half to get a meeting with a potential partner, but with Ray onboard, it’s as early as next week! If Ray Lewis talks, people want to be part of it. It’s the same mission, and the same people behind the mission, but he encourages them to listen.

Ray is genuinely passionate about what we’re doing, and making sure that he can do what he needs to do to make sure we’re successful, that we are changing lives. He’s fully invested, and we’re all passionate about bringing about change.

More About Power52’s Leaders

Rob (Daniel) Wallace is a founder of Power52 Inc. and is a member of the Power52 Foundation Advisory board. As an electrical and energy engineer, project manager and business consultant, Wallace has over 11 years experience in program management, renewable energy systems design and development, systems implementation, training and technology management.  Mr. Wallace also has worked in the power market, focusing on frequency response, energy arbitrage and battery storage.

Cherie Brooks is a founder and a principal in Power52 Inc. Under Cherie’s guidance, Power52 foundation has launched its first training facility in Baltimore City, Maryland, which is in the candidate phase of the NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) accreditation process.  Cherie has obtained her Master Trainer credentials from NCCER as well.  Future training programs are being developed in the Ivory Coast (Cote D'Ivoire), Lakeland Florida, and Hawaii Islands.  

Prior to Power52, Cherie served as the executive director of Prosperity Pail Ministry works.  Under Cherie’s leadership, Prosperity Pail worked to provide STEM centers for local schools to introduce youth to renewable and clean technologies. Before launching into the 501C3 world, Cherie worked in the wireless industry with direct negotiation of contracts, project management, and site acquisition services for fortune 500 companies, including Verizon and AT&T.  She has sited and managed over 100 telecom sites and negotiated and oversaw each site through leasing to construction milestones.

Cherie managed subcontractors/site acquisition specialists on all project phases (leasing, zoning, compliance, A&E, and Regulatory) on AT&T’s LTE Project as well as Verizon's New Site /Raw Land Builds. In 2003, Cherie received her Maryland real estate license. Since being licensed, she has been recognized with several club level awards for outstanding sales achievements. Cherie’s greatest strengths are her creativity, drive and leadership. She thrives on challenges, particularly those that expand the company’s reach.

Ray Lewis is a Principal in Power52 Inc. and serves as Co-Chair on the Power52 Foundation board.  Ray Lewis was born in Bartow, Florida, in 1975. The oldest of five children, Lewis became a football star at Kathleen High School and was recruited to play at the University of Miami. In 1996, Lewis was a first-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens. He led the team to a Super Bowl victory in 2000, and was named Defensive Player of the Year that same season. In 2013, Lewis led the Ravens to another Super Bowl victory. He retired in 2013.

Power52 will have an exhibit at Contractor Leadership LIVE, to be held in Cleveland, Oh, Sept. 12-14, a new event that brings together the resources you need to transform your HVAC, plumbing or electrical business.

Power52 co-founder Ray Lewis will be the keynote speaker at the event’s closing session. His message will be “Prepare for Greatness.”

Register online at ContractorLeadershipLIve.com.

About the Author

Terry McIver | Content Director - CB

A career publishing professional, Terence 'Terry' McIver has served three diverse industry publications in varying degrees of responsibility since 1987, and worked in marketing communications for a major U.S. corporation.He joined the staff of Contracting Business magazine in April 2005.

As director of content for Contracting Business, he produces daily content and feature articles for CB's 38,000 print subscribers and many more Internet visitors. He has written hundreds, if not two or three, pieces of news, features and contractor profile articles for CB's audience of quality HVACR contractors. He can also be found covering HVACR industry events or visiting with manufacturers and contractors. He also has significant experience in trade show planning.