St. Croix Foundation Solar-Supported Community Center Project Translates into Full-Time Employment for Local Youth


St. Croix, U.S.V.I. — St. Croix Foundation is pleased to announce the completion of the first phase of its Pilot Solar-Supported Community Center Project and Workforce Development Initiative, which is solarizing several carefully selected community centers on St. Croix. The project was officially launched in June 2019 and is serving as a holistic model through which local youth are helping the Foundation build a skilled local workforce of solar installers. Funded in partnership with the VI Department of Labor, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, GlobalGiving and a number of other national philanthropic entities, 4 community centers are scheduled to be solarized including The Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the Virgin Islands and Flambouyant Gardens Senior Independent Living Center.

During this first phase of the Project, 9 students aged 18-28, successfully completed a 6-month National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) course, receiving intense classroom instruction in NCCER Core Curriculum, Electrical Levels 1-4, and Solar PV Installation. Students received a stipend during the program in addition to uniforms and toolkits that they were allowed to keep upon completion of the program. At the conclusion of the classroom component of the program, students received on-the-job training installing Solar Photovoltaic Systems by completing the installation of a full solar system on the roof of the Caribbean Center for the Boys and Girls of the Virgin Islands (CCBGVI). In the event of future disasters, all selected solar-powered community centers have committed to serve as neighborhood hubs for individuals and families in walking proximity. CCBGVI, followed by Flambouyant Gardens and two more strategically located centers, will enable residents in the neighborhood to store medication that requires refrigeration, charge electronic devices, and use an internet connection to communicate with family.

Community centers will also have the capacity to serve as localized distribution sites from which aid and relief items can be stored and disseminated in the future. Equally important, this Initiative is nurturing a culture of resilience by empowering nonprofits to achieve a reduction in utility costs, the savings from which can be reinvested in direct services that benefit the communities and vulnerable populations they serve.

According to St. Croix Foundation President, Deanna James, “This program is a perfect representation of how the Foundation is activating its recovery agenda and its commitment to holistic Community Development. By leveraging a cross-sector of public, private, and civic partnerships, the Foundation is able to marshal resources and sector competencies for multi-layered benefits. The ripple impacts of this initiative are far-reaching, touching on every priority that the Foundation has established since the hurricanes, from energy independence and nonprofit capacity building to workforce development and community self-sufficiency.” “The Initiative also demonstrates the power of our Territory’s Civil Society to drive sustained progress and resilience, “James continued.

The Foundation is most excited to report that this pilot Initiative has also proven that demand exists in the Virgin Islands for a local, skilled workforce in green energy: five students have already been hired by a local solar company, ProSolar, and are thriving. Committed to students’ long-term success and employability, the Foundation dedicated targeted resources to expanding the program to incorporate soft skills and workplace readiness training. ProSolar has also committed to serving as a critical strategic partner of the Foundation’s in support of students’ success. Through ongoing coaching and mentoring, they will be tracking students to ensure the final outcome is not just employment for participants but the launch of real careers and, over time, entrepreneurial ventures in the future.

The Foundation is deeply grateful for all of its community partners for their support and collaboration in making this project a reality including the Department of Labor, Commissioner Gary Molloy and his Team on the Workforce Development Board, Sustainable System and Design International, Lions Den, and course instructors Ian Caesar, Kevin Dubois, and George Christian.

The Foundation wishes to invite other local solar installation companies to support this project by offering long-term employment opportunities to qualified participants is to build a skilled solar workforce for a burgeoning demand occupation. For more information, please feel free to contact the Foundation at 340-773-9898 or visit their website for more information about the Initiative or to support this and other St. Croix Foundation initiatives.

Established in 1990, the Foundation has served as a conduit for over 42 million dollars in funding for community-based projects throughout the Virgin Islands. With an incomparable track record of successful community development initiatives and national recognition for its work in education reform and small business development, the Foundation has also received international acknowledgment for its community revitalization initiatives and, today, continues directing its focus on energy independence, workforce development, education, youth and families, and of course, the broad-based support of nonprofits, including fiscal sponsorship, grantmaking, and the Nonprofit Consortium.