Governor Walz Announces Funding to Train Underrepresented Workers for Clean Energy Careers

Government and Politics

June 11, 2024

From: Minnesota Governor Timothy James Walz

ST. PAUL, MN - Governor Tim Walz today announced $2.7 million in grants to build career pathways for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and low-income Minnesotans into good-paying union trade jobs in the high-demand fields of construction, clean energy and energy efficiency.

“A green economy sets us up for a healthier future while ensuring that all Minnesotans share the benefits of clean and renewable energy. This includes equal opportunity to fill cutting edge jobs that will become available ,” said Governor Walz. “These grants are helping us build the skilled, diverse workforce we need to achieve 100% clean energy by 2040.”

“Climate change has disproportionately impacted the people who are least responsible for the problem, namely low-income communities and communities of color,” said Lieutenant Governor Flanagan. “That’s why these grants are so important. They’re helping us ensure that those who have continually dealt with the negative impacts of climate change are given an opportunity to fill the good-paying jobs that are part of a more sustainable economy. These grants represent a small step towards climate justice.”

Nine workforce development organizations around Minnesota will receive funding from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED) Clean Economy Equitable Workforce initiative, a new program to develop a skilled, diverse workforce to support the state's transition to a green economy.

“The Clean Economy Equitable Workforce program invests in historically overlooked workers to provide rewarding career opportunities for BIPOC communities,” said DEED Commissioner Matt Varilek. “Minnesota needs workers with the right skills to build and deploy climate solutions that promote energy efficiency, advance resiliency and support the state’s transition to clean energy. DEED is helping prepare Minnesota’s workforce to fill the growing number of good-paying new jobs as the state moves toward a cleaner, more sustainable, more equitable and climate-ready economy.”

“ Minnesota’s clean energy businesses employ tens of thousands of workers and will add many more clean energy and energy efficiency jobs as the state works toward achieving its commitment to 100% clean electricity by 2040,” said DEED Deputy Commissioner for Workforce Development Marc Majors. “This initiative helps eliminate workforce barriers and invests in career readiness and skills development for BIPOC workers looking to join the rapidly growing clean energy field. Additionally, we’re excited to partner on this initiative with the Wilson Foundation and the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies as they offer an opportunity for additional funding to DEED grantees in this critical sector.”

Minnesota's clean energy businesses added more than 1,900 workers in 2022 – a 3.4% increase over 2021 – now employing almost 60,000 Minnesotans, according to a recent analysis from Clean Energy Economy MN.

All grant recipients will provide the following services for program participants:

  • Workforce training, case management services and support to achieve certification or credentials.??
  • Career development support that includes career setting goals based on the individual’s personal strengths and addressing potential barriers to achieving goals.
  • Workers' rights training including labor organization introduction, legal advocacy and wage recovery.????
  • Employment placement and advancement with employer partners that offer self-sustaining wages and/or entry into registered apprenticeships.
  • Culturally appropriate and linguistically relevant job readiness training curricula.?

“Summit Academy OIC is looking forward to contributing to this impactful initiative, preparing a diverse talent pool for current and emerging careers in clean energy and energy efficiency,” said Leroy West, Summit Academy OIC President and CEO. “We are deeply committed to building a climate-ready workforce and partnering with organizations to support a clean AND equitable economy.”

The following organizations were awarded Clean Economy Equitable Workforce grants:

  • $400,000 to Avivo for an HVAC training. The organization is headquartered in Minneapolis and with 10 locations around the Greater Twin Cities metro including Buffalo, Milaca and St. Cloud.
  • $400,000 to Summit Academy OIC for electrician and carpentry training. The organization has two locations in Minneapolis.
  • $400,000 to Workforce Development, Inc. for construction industry pathways. The organization is based in Rochester, with nine locations across Southeastern Minnesota.
  • $340,000 to the Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council for power line, solar energy, wind turbine and electric vehicle technician training and home energy efficiency training. The organization has offices in Marshall, Montevideo and Worthington and serves 14 counties in Southwestern Minnesota.
  • $310,000 to HIRED for home energy audit and home insulation training. The organization is based in Minneapolis and serves the Twin Cities metro area.
  • $300,000 to Minnesota Training Partnerships for wind energy installation/millwright training. Headquartered in St. Paul, this non-profit organization was founded by the Minnesota AFL-CIO.
  • $200,000 to Community Action Duluth for green building and home energy reduction training.
  • $200,000 to Unidos Minnesota for pre-apprenticeship training. The Latino-led organization is based in Minneapolis.
  • $150,000 to the Initiative Foundation for energy efficiency training. The organization is based in Little Falls and serves Central Minnesota.

Wilson Foundation and the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies have issued a joint Request for Proposals to the nine DEED grantees in order to strategically align private support with the state’s funding. The goal of the private support is to enable grantees to provide participants with flexible financial resources that go above and beyond standard wrap-around support, further enabling their success. Up to $600,000 in private funding will be awarded to DEED grantees in July.