Minnesota’s new Energy Climate Corps aims to diversify growing energy jobs

by Kelly Smith at startribune.com

Minnesota Energy Climate Corps team member DeAndre Colquitte took a photo of a building blueprint before resketching it during an energy audit Thursday at Fort Snelling State Park.

Like many AmeriCorps programs, the new Minnesota Energy Climate Corps aims to make a difference in the community, but organizers hope it ignites broader workforce changes, too.

The program will launch in January, focused on completing energy efficiency projects in the Twin Cities while introducing young adults to energy jobs and diversifying that growing sector

“We’re inviting people to the table who are not usually even invited,” project director Jill Baum said. “If we can spark an interest … that’s what will start to make a difference.”

St. Paul-based Conservation Corps of Minnesota & Iowa, along with Serve Minnesota, the nonprofit that oversees Minnesota’s AmeriCorps programs, are starting the new AmeriCorps program. It will train 20 climate fellows to perform energy audits and do other energy-efficiency projects in public buildings.

The program is particularly seeking Black and Indigenous Minnesotans and other people of color (BIPOC) for the 11-month positions.

Across the U.S., the energy sector workforce is largely white and male. About 24% of the workforce is nonwhite, slightly higher than the overall U.S. workforce, though there are lower than average percentages of African-American workers, according to a 2023 U.S. Department of Energy report.