Gavin Newsom to speak, Chevron to donate at Richmond green job training program

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California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and state Assemblymember Nancy Skinner will be featured speakers at Friday’s RichmondBUILD Graduation ceremony.

More than a dozen local kids and young adults will graduate from the job-training program, which aims to prepare locals for “green collar” jobs in the clean and renewable technology industries.

Also at the ceremony, Chevron Corp. will announce a $100,000 grant to the program. Contributions from utility company PG&E and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory — which is considering six local sites including Richmond for its new facility – – bring the total gifts to RichmondBUILD to about $115,000.

Chevron’s donation was, in part, prompted by Councilman Corky Booze’s appeals to the energy giant, according to Chevron Corp. spokesperson Melissa Ritchie. “This investment came about as a result of Councilmember Corky Booze’s leadership in reaching out to Chevron to ensure that programs like [RichmondBUILD] are available to help prepare Richmond’s youth to enter the workforce with the skills and training necessary to be successful,” Ritchie wrote in an email late Thursday.

The City of Richmond’s RichmondBUILD Green Careers Academy has garnered national attention as a leader in providing training programs in clean and renewable industries. The city-led training effort is made possible in part by the partnerships with Contra Costa College, Solar Richmond, and Rising Sun Energy Center.

Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco and a longtime advocate of green technology and clean energy, will be the featured speaker.

Booze praised Chevron Corp. for being willing to donate to the city’s efforts. “Chevron knows that I’m concerned about jobs, concerned about crime, and they want to work with me and I appreciate them willing to work with me,” Booze said, adding that the city’s 19 percent unemployment rate was his chief concern. “I made a commitment to this community, that I would do everything I could to see to it that people get employed.”

The donations come at a crucial time for the training programs. Sal Vaca, Richmond’s director of employment and training, said the grant money will keep the program afloat until at least next year. “This gives us the opportunity to have the program in place and be able to re-apply to the Department of Labor for funding for next year,” Vaca said.

A city press release Wednesday said RichmondBUILD has maintained an 80 percent job placement rate for program graduates at an average starting wage of $18 per hour.

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