Ready for employment. Lisa Miller, left, and Simeon Gant of Green Tech, right, award brothers Zuhri Staley, second left, and Mwangi Staley, second right, their certificates for completing the work-training program.
(OBSERVER photo by Antonio. R. Harvey)

OAK PARK — Sometimes it could be difficult for teens to find summer employment that would help them escape the doldrums of inactivity and empty pockets.

But if they are persistent and hook up with the right programs, those obstacles can be conquered. Here in Sacramento, a small army of young people got that opportunity through Green Tech.

For eight weeks, 13 Green Tech students learned about general labor and workforce skills, landscaping, agriculture, home improvement,energy efficiency and solar technology during the the non-profit’s “Pre-Apprentice-Thousand Strong Job Training” program.

To end the summer vacation, the students received Green Tech Certificates of Completion, Prop 39 Energy Efficiency Certificates and Photovoltaic 1 and PV 2 solar technology, certificates for finishing a meaningful, hands-on program. The teens also were paid for their service and dedication to the program.

“I would like to say that Green Tech was eight weeks of torture,” Green Tech founder and CEO Simeon Gant said jokingly during the ceremony held at the Fruit Ridge Community Collaborative Auditorium in Oak Park. “But they were disciplined and they keep showing up day after day.”

Each young participant had a story to tell. One of the male students road his bike and caught buses from Elk Grove to the Fruit Ridge Community Collaborative. One of the females in the group had to hitch a ride with another participant.

There was also a young person who was kicked out of the program for exhibiting bad behavior. He asked to rejoin Green Tech and soon became one of the best student. Plus, there were students who showed up to work well before the doors opened to start the day.

In addition, Green Tech and Lisa Miller taught the teens resume writing, professional dressing for interviews, financial management, and adhering to company’s rules. Many of them are currently undergoing interviews and moving on to employment.

“These young people are read to go to work now,” Ms. Miller said.

Green Tech’s pre-apprentice program received support for Sacramento City Unified School District board member Jesse Ryan and the city’s Thousand Strong youth employment program, which is funded by the city, state and Sac City, Elk Grove, Twin Rivers, and Natomas districts.

Green Tech had carte blanche in its handling of the students and created its own agenda that proved to be ultra-effective.

“Thousand Strong let us do it our way,” Gant said.

Green Tech trains and develops students with emerging green-collar skills, making them proficient in building design and construction trades, science, entrepreneurship and engineering.

“Green Tech is a great program and offers a lot of opportunities,” said Green Tech student Romani Hill. “It’s just an all-around program that I’m proud to be a part of.”
By Antonio R. Harvey
OBSERVER Staff Writer