Part of the LEAP family

LEAP and the City of Charlottesville’s Home to Hope Program Partner to Put Time-Served City Residents Back Into the Workforce

##PRESS RELEASE##
For Immediate Release

Charlottesville, VA

Over the last couple of months, the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) and the City of Charlottesville’s Home to Hope program have collaborated to place two local residents with lived criminal justice experience into new careers as Retrofit Technicians, helping to weatherize local residents’ homes. Despite COVID-19, LEAP is growing, and finding new staff through Home to Hope became instrumental to our ongoing expansion.

“The building sector continues to face staffing challenges, so collaborating with Home to Hope made sense to help us source the new staff we needed. We are excited to offer these new hires a living wage of $15/hr, plus a full benefits package, to serve their fellow residents here in Charlottesville,” stated Chris Meyer, Executive Director of LEAP.

The Home to Hope program helps “time-served” individuals connect with employers, housing, and other needs in order to be successful. The collaboration with LEAP is unique because of LEAP’s ability to provide temporary housing out of its office located on Ridge Street in addition to employment and on-the-job training.

According to Hollie Lee, Chief of Workforce Development Strategies for the City of Charlottesville, “This partnership with LEAP has allowed us to address two of the major barriers that Home to Hope participants face upon release from incarceration – housing and employment. Not only are those selected for this opportunity provided stable housing so that they can get back on their feet, but they are also given the chance to learn a new trade that will result in upward career mobility and self-sufficient wages. This collaboration has truly been life-changing for our participants.”

Both LEAP and the new hires have been pleased with the collaboration. “This job with LEAP has given me a good, stable job and the boost I needed to see a positive future for myself,” stated Norman Bell, a Home to Hope participant who joined LEAP’s workforce four months ago.

LEAP implements a number of programs for the City to assist low-income residents in reducing their energy use. Having local residents on LEAP’s team to do the work, such as insulating attics and air sealing, only makes sense to Meyer. “We want our team to reflect the clients we are serving,” explained Meyer. 

As LEAP’s team members work inside clients’ homes, applicants are screened to ensure they have not had charges for past property crimes in order to respect clients’ safety. Once selected, LEAP’s new hires start by learning on the job before being sent to formal technical training sessions and receiving certification as Retrofit Technicians. After they are certified, their pay is increased and opportunities for further training and promotions become available. LEAP prioritizes low turnover and professional development in its staff, so hiring individuals who consider this technical trade job a career is critical. 

“We think we can offer these individuals an interesting and stable career opportunity. Demand for our services is increasing 25% year-over-year, so we are going to need to hire more individuals in the next 12 months,” mentioned Meyer. 

LEAP and the City look forward to continued success with this initiative. Lee commented, “Again, we value this partnership with LEAP to put Home to Hope participants into transformative careers that allow them to impact the local community. In the near future, we are planning to further enhance our collaboration with LEAP by offering a GO Green workforce development training program that will provide individuals with the skills they need to also become Retrofit Technicians with LEAP and other local employer partners.”

CONTACT: Erin Morgan, Marketing and Outreach Manager, Local Energy Alliance Program, erin@leap-va.org, 540-407-2412‬

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The Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit headquartered in Charlottesville, VA. As a trusted nonprofit, LEAP delivers direct education and services for improved energy performance that address climate change; create cost savings for families and businesses; healthier, safer, and more durable buildings; and local jobs and economic growth.

Website: leap-va.org | energysmarthomesva.org
Email: info@leap-va.org
Facebook: Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP)
Twitter: @LEAP_VA
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