Green jobs training programs provide a great opportunity for the nation’s underserved communities to gain valuable work training to help lift them up out of poverty. This includes individuals that have served prison sentences. A Recovery Act-funded green jobs training program in Chicago will help provide jobs for 650 ex-convicts. However, the green jobs for cons trend isn’t limited to the Midwest, this past weekend inmates at San Quentin State Prison in California were treated to a green jobs fair.


Representatives from 60 companies, green jobs advocacy groups, and training centers gathered at San Quentin to promote green jobs as a way to get on the right path once the inmates have served their prison sentence. Seeing all of these people descend on the prison to help provide hope for these incarcerated individuals was heart-warming for one inmate, 39 year-old Kevin Williams.


“For anybody to come in here, give their time, that’s a special person. This is prison, man. It’s the last place you want to be. If you don’t change when you meet people like that, it ain’t never going to happen.” Source: The Oakland Tribune


Inmates with fewer than ten years left on their sentence were invited to attend the job fair. This helps them see what might be available when they emerge — a green collar economy — and how they can take advantage of the new opportunities available.


The Bay Area isn’t the only region in California helping provide green collar jobs and job training to formerly incarcerated individuals, head a bit further down the Pacific Coast Highway to the Los Angeles area and you’ll find Father Greg Boyle and Homeboy Industries.


Homeboy Industries is a gang intervention program and Father Boyle helps keep at-risk youth out of the gangs and off the streets through a variety of programs, including a solar panel installation training program. The former inmates served by the programs at Homeboy Industries are able to provide a valuable contribution to today’s emerging green economy.


Green collar jobs have the potential to provide millions of Americans with a viable pathway out of poverty. They also have the ability to help former inmates break the incarceration cycle – get out of jail, get a good green job, and stay out of jail.


Photo: Brooke Anderson/Flickr

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