Project seeks to inspire a new generation to seek green fortunes

This video highlights San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization's work in the Valley Legacy Grant.

The funds come from the Workforce Investment Act, and SJVCEO's role, although small, is to help teach people about clean energy. We're working with teachers, institutions and the private sector to help provide an educated work force ready for an emerging industry.

For a definition of the grant, I'll defer to this recently published report by our partners at the Office of Community and Economic Development at California State University, Fresno.

Mike Dozier, secretariat for the Office of Community and Economic Development, explained the reason why this effort is important in his introduction to the report: "As the San Joaquin Valley is facing difficult economic times, it has become more critical than ever before that we as a region continue our collaboration efforts. Through the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley, the public and private sectors are driving toward improving the quality of life for our residents."

The San Joaquin Valley as a whole has an unemployment rate nearing 20 percent, and that figure just represents those still on the books looking for work. The reality is likely much worse.

Here at the SJVCEO, we believe the clean energy sector is a potential game changer and we're trying to do what we can to inspire folks to jump on the entrepreneurial band-wagon and figure out how to make the Valley a kingpin in an emerging industry.

"The purpose of Valley Legacy is to bring the San Joaquin Valley’s K-12 system, higher education and work force investment board systems into alignment to better prepare people for occupations in high-growth industry sectors in the San Joaquin Valley," the report says.

Those sectors include:
  • Agribusiness, including food processing and biotechnology
  • Water technology
  • Renewable energy
  • Manufacturing
  • Supply chain management
The report continues: "In the current K-12 system, young people receive an education that is designed to maximize success in passing standardized tests. That’s a worthy goal; but most students come out of high school with no preparation for careers in the Valley.

"Most of those who don’t go on to college end up at some low-paying, dead-end job. Some students then go to the County Workforce Investment Boards, which act as a 'second-chance' system to train people for jobs with career advancement; but the WIBs receive funding to assist only a small percentage of those who apply.

"What needs to be improved is the 'first-chance' system. High-school students need to graduate with options: the option to go to a four-year college; to go to a community college; enter directly into the Valley workforce; or even to start their own business."

We think it could work. Advances in biofuel technology, increasing demand for solar power, fossil fuel price boosts and overall escalating consumption of electrical power make clean energy a worthy pursuit. With advances, much of it may be on par price-wise with traditional energy sources or even less.