Baker-Polito Administration Announces $3.6M in Funding to Equity Workforce Training and Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises in Climate-Critical Fields

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Kathryn Niforos
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BOSTON – In recognition of Climate Week in Massachusetts, the Baker-Polito Administration today announced $3.6 million in Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises Support Implementation and Planning Grants and Equity Workforce Training Grants to support 25 organizations committed to expanding access to career and business opportunities in climate-critical fields. A robust, well-trained, and inclusive workforce is vital to achieving and sustaining the Commonwealth’s climate goals, including Net Zero in 2050. The awards, provided through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), will not only address the need to grow Massachusetts’ clean energy workforce, but they will also prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts across the full spectrum of economic opportunity, which will yield both an increasingly diverse bench of highly trained new workers and a wider array of thriving minority and women-owned business enterprises to help lead climate-critical work.

“It is critical that we foster a vibrant, clean energy sector that will enable the Commonwealth to confront the many challenges associated with climate change and secure a clean energy future that will greatly benefit the state for many generations to come,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These grants will further support our ongoing efforts to strengthen the industry, which includes creating opportunities that provide a clear entry into a variety of clean energy fields to ensure a diverse and talented workforce is developed.”

“Equitable growth of the clean energy industry not only ensures the sector’s sustainability but also provides important benefits of generating a strong workforce within the sector, providing economic benefits within our communities and regions throughout the state,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Our Administration is proud to partner with these incredible organizations to expand access within clean energy as we work together to mitigate the impacts of climate change.”

Equity Workforce Training Grants have been awarded to 16 organizations for designing programs to prepare members of environmental justice (EJ) communities and fossil fuel workers for clean energy careers. Each $50,000 grant will reduce barriers faced by underserved individuals as grantees conduct research, develop partnerships, and design the frameworks to create new job training pipelines to high-quality career pathways. Additionally, Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises Support Implementation and Planning Grants were awarded to nine Massachusetts community-based organizations to advance efforts to assist over 199 Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE). MWBE support grants will facilitate the exploration, development, and implementation of innovative training opportunities for Massachusetts-based MWBE companies. The grants of up to $1 million each will support MWBE entry, creation, and expansion into fields critical to meeting net-zero goals. Funding for both programs was provided by MassCEC’s Workforce Equity programming, which was created following the enactment of the 2021 Climate Roadmap Act.

“It is crucial that Massachusetts continues to develop a qualified, well-trained, and diverse workforce within the clean energy sector that is able to both expand the industry and directly contribute to its continued success,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “The Baker-Polito Administration actively seeks partnerships so that we can work together to achieve our shared clean energy and decarbonization goals, and these Equity Workforce Training and Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises Support Implementation and Planning Grants are an important contribution to that effort.”

The nine MWBE support organizations are receiving $2.8 million to develop statewide programming, as well as location-specific support in communities. Similarly, the 16 Equity Workforce Planning grant awards will support statewide training and more targeted locations throughout the Commonwealth, including specific EJ communities. The scope of work across the 25 grantees underscores the extensive work required for the equitable pursuit of Massachusetts’ climate goals. MWBE grantees’ work covers a wide span of services from universal needs like clean energy business mentoring and overcoming historic barriers to accessing capital to more sector-specific strategies ranging from training minority and women contractors to establish their own businesses in the high-performance building sector to facilitating access to opportunities in electric vehicle infrastructure expansion. The equity workforce planning grantees will focus on developing holistic workforce programs that provide technical training paired with placement opportunities and extensive support services.

“The Baker-Polito Administration is proud to announce these Equity Workforce Training and MWBE grants, which supports focused, targeted programming to the communities they serve,” said Massachusetts Clean Energy Center CEO Jennifer Daloisio. “These grants reflect MassCEC’s commitment to both growing the clean energy economy and increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sector. Importantly, these awardees have created exceptional plans and we can’t wait to see their programs thrive.”

Organizations receiving MWBE Support Implementation and Planning Grants are:

  • Emerald Cities Collaborative (ECC): $1,000,000 to support 45 MWBEs. ECC will recruit MWBE contractors in the Pioneer Valley, train on decarbonization work, connect to pipelines of work, provide networking opportunities, and facilitate connections to working and equity capital.
  • Browning the Green Space (BGS): $508,500 to support 50 MWBEs. BGS will create more MWBEs by expanding the Accelerating Contractors of Color in Energy for Sustainable Success (ACCESS) program. ACCESS is an 8-week contractor boot camp for aspiring energy efficiency and renewable energy business owners that provides curated consulting, coaching, connections, mentorship, and access to capital.
  • Greentown Labs: Up to $500,000 to support 18 MWBEs. Greentown Labs will operate the accelerator program, Advancing Climatetech and Clean Energy Leaders (ACCEL) to accelerate high-growth, tech innovation–based MWBE startups towards investment, partnerships, and customers.
  • Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council (GNEMSDC): Up to $500,000 to support 75 MWBEs. GNEMSDC will help MWBEs become aware of opportunities to obtain contracts in climate critical areas, build their financial and intellectual capital and provide MWBE certifications, leveraging grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
  • Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA): $50,000 to support 20 MWBEs. BECMA will expand its electric vehicle (EV) kickstarter program to areas outside of Boston. This effort helps MWBEs identify business opportunities in EV space as resellers, owner-operators, installers, and maintenance providers. Businesses interested in the expansion are awarded $5k grants from BECMA and access to MassDevelopment for loan financing.
  • Center for Women and Enterprise: $50,000 to determine the educational, professional development, and back-office services necessary for early MWBEs to thrive in the climate-critical building sector.
  • The Compost Collaborative: $50,000 to explore expanding Compost Collaborative employee ownership to spin-off business model targeting BIPOC/female returning citizens as a template for other women returning from prison. The Compost Collaborative will also explore connecting with other state programs to allow more women ex-offenders to use and participate in this business model.
  • Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA): $50,000 to explore how to provide MWBEs with access to the NESEA Green Building community and its resources and connections. In particular, NESEA will define how MWBE participation in NESEA's peer business groups might become part of other implementation grants to other grantees or other models for NESEA to support MWBEs.
  • SRGE, the Construction Incubator: $50,000 to support the expansion of larger BIPOC construction, electrical, and mechanical contractors through the Construction Incubator program for EV charging station installation, high-performing mechanical systems, and energy retrofit building projects.

Organizations receiving Equity Workforce Training Grants are:

  • All In Energy: $50,000 to develop career pathways for multilingual individuals from EJ Neighborhoods to become energy auditors. The pathways will involve placement in customer-facing roles at Mass Save programs to give participants the resources and time needed to train to become energy auditors.
  • Automotive Careers Development Center (ACDC): $50,000 to expand existing hybrid and EV training programs to recruit and train individuals working in the fossil fuel industry from EJ Neighborhoods across the state to work in and service those communities.
  • Browning the Green Space (BGS): $50,000 to explore pathways for formerly incarcerated citizens in Boston to receive training and support needed to enter the high-performance building retrofits sector. BGS will explore partnerships and solutions that reduce the barriers faced by those with CORI issues.
  • Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation (CSNDC): $50,000 to develop career pathways with employer partners for formerly incarcerated citizens to enter the high-performance building retrofits sector. CSNDC will adapt prior experience working with those with CORI issues to this plan.
  • Greenfield Community College: $50,000 to develop a co-op model with employer partners throughout Franklin and Hampshire Counties to train workers in fossil fuel industries and individuals in EJ Neighborhoods to transition to clean energy job alternatives in the high-performance retrofits sector.
  • GreenRoots Chelsea: $50,000 to explore training a wide range of people of color, workers in the fossil fuel industry, and youth from Chelsea and East Boston to enter the clean energy sector locally in careers related to solar energy and microgrids.
  • Groundwork Lawrence: $50,000 to develop a customized multi-year training program to train residents of Lawrence and other Merrimack Valley EJ Neighborhoods to enter careers in the high-performance retrofits sector.
  • Industry Training, Inc.: $50,000 to develop and deploy a Massachusetts Green Buildings Accelerator Plan that can be deployed across EJ Neighborhoods statewide, providing residents with career navigation to better understand career pathways, access foundational training, and enter curated workforce and educational pathways.
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC): $50,000 to explore upskilling LISC’s existing weatherization training program to provide participants from EJ Neighborhoods with the skills needed to become home energy specialists, heat pump technicians, or electricians. LISC will also examine replication strategies to bring the program to Lawrence, New Bedford/Fall River, and Worcester.
  • Massachusetts Climate Action Network (MCAN): $50,000 to research solidifying the components of long-term pipelines that enable black and indigenous people of color (BIPOC) to gain initial skills and then continue to grow to attain high-quality jobs related to HVAC and electrification.
  • MassHire North Shore Workforce Board: $50,000 to develop a regional equitable workforce training plan and training programs leading to jobs in the offshore wind industry supply chain and other parts of the blue economy.
  • Nordee Enterprise: $50,000 to explore providing early exposure to clean energy jobs at Hyde Park and Mattapan-based high schools; delivering specialization workshops at local technical schools, colleges, and neighborhood associations; and establishing placement pathways.
  • People Acting in Community Endeavors, Inc. (PACE): $50,000 to connect the most underserved individuals in New Bedford and neighboring EJ communities that may be missed by traditional workforce approaches to growing workforce development and economic opportunities created by offshore wind.
  • Roxbury Community College: $50,000 to develop a world-class heat pump training and certification program parallel to the existing Building Automation System training and certification program.
  • Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts (SBN): $50,000 to develop the SBN Solar Business Accelerator that will support the creation of new workforce programs to grow the solar industry. SBN will focus on jobs beyond electrical engineers and electricians, such as sales and marketing, information technology, drone operation, community engagement ambassadors, and vegetation management.
  • Tremco CPG Inc.: $50,000 to explore expansion and upskilling of the Rising Stars trades program hosted at Madison Park Vocational Technical School to include high-performance retrofit training and placement pathways.

“To achieve our net zero goals and combat climate change, we must continue to invest in a clean energy economy,” said Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem). “Today’s funding announcement reaffirms our Commonwealth’s commitment to achieving a clean future and pledge to ensure equity, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of this growing sector. I would like to thank the Baker/Polito Administration, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and MassCEC for their leadership and partnership.”

“I applaud the investment of $3.6 million in grants to uplift women and minority owned businesses, to develop a diverse and robust workforce, and pave the way for all communities to participate in an equitable green and clean energy fueled Commonwealth.” Representative Jamie Zahlaway Belsito (D-Topsfield)

“In a time where climate change is so prevalent, the Commonwealth needs the resources to foster generational support of these issues. These grants will enable minority- and women-owned businesses to expand their access to career and business opportunities in climate-critical fields, which is essential to growing the clean energy sectors within communities like Chelsea and throughout my district,” said Representative Jessica Giannino (D-Revere). “I am so excited to see incredible organizations, like Green Roots, are recipients of this much needed funding to expand access in our Environmental Justice communities.”

This funding builds upon the Baker-Polito Administration’s ongoing efforts to prioritize Environmental Justice communities while supporting the Commonwealth’s vibrant clean energy industry. In June 2022, Governor Baker and the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs released the comprehensive Clean Energy and Climate Plan (CECP) that details policies and strategies to equitably and cost-effectively reduce emissions and combat climate change and outlines how Massachusetts will reach 2030 and 2050 climate goals. The CECP, along with the Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind that Governor Baker recently signed into law, ensure that the benefits of the expanding clean energy economy are felt equitably by Massachusetts residents and businesses.