The Venice Community Housing Corporation (VCHC), in collaboration with Earthplay Learning Adventures, California Solar Electric and Environmental Solar Design, has offered training in the burgeoning Green Jobs sector to at-risk youths ages 16 to 24 who participate in the Venice YouthBuild program.

On-the-job training in installation of solar panels at the Housing Corporation’s administrative and program offices was provided late last month. The training was made possible by a grant from the S. Mark Taper Foundation.

“We are so honored to be the recipient of this large and important gift from the S. Mark Taper Foundation” said Housing Corporation executive director Steve Clare.

The Taper Foundation, founded in 1989, is a private family foundation dedicated to enhancing the quality of people’s lives by supporting nonprofit organizations and their work in local communities.

In partnership with Earthplay Learning Adventures, at least 50 YouthBuild participants received interactive instruction about the Green Economy and how it can be used to improve the environment and revitalize underserved communities.

After receiving the overview of the Green Economy, at least 12 youths were selected to engage in on the job solar panel installation. Through collaboration with California Solar Electric, students installed solar photovoltaic panels on the corporation’s office building. Students then worked with partner Environmental Solar Design, Inc. to install solar thermal panels on two affordable apartment buildings.

Interested and qualified youths are then placed in internships with local solar companies, with the goal of placement in full-time employment upon completion of the YouthBuild program.

In addition to providing youths with vital job skills in the rapidly growing Green Economy, installation of the solar panels is expected to save the Venice Housing Corporation, a nonprofit organization, approximately 50 percent on electricity bills at its offices and 40 percent on gas expenses at two of its buildings, corporation staff said.

“VCHC is excited to be able to offer this incredible opportunity for the youth we serve,” says Clare. “This training will be all the more valuable in light of our new president’s stated focus on the Green Economy and youth development.”

Venice Community Housing Corporation has been providing construction job training for at risk youths since 1995. To date, more than 200 youths have participated.