Albany, NY (September 1, 2022) – The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a $2 million grant to the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) to lead a data-driven campaign to strengthen and diversify the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) workforce.

Over the next three years, IREC will develop, pilot, and deploy an outreach campaign in partnership with local WAP agencies and their communities to hire a new generation of WAP workers, including women, opportunity youth, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), and other underrepresented groups. This will include a multimedia outreach toolkit and engagement platform along with technical assistance and contractor outreach to help WAP agencies improve recruitment.

The IREC grant is part of an award totaling more than $40 million to 21 organizations and five state agencies. First established in 1976, the Weatherization Assistance Program helps enhance home energy efficiency and reduce energy costs for income-eligible families, offering weatherization assistance to approximately 35,000 homes each year.

“Weatherization of homes and creation of local jobs in underserved communities are essential components of our path to an equitable clean energy future,” said Larry Sherwood, President and CEO at IREC. “We are very excited to launch this campaign in partnership with WAP agencies and local communities across the country to expand opportunities for weatherization careers within the same energy-burdened communities that this program serves.” 

A replicable outreach campaign, recruitment toolkit, and engagement platform for job seekers will be piloted in four states—California, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—before rolling out to a national audience. It will include strategic outreach to local community-based organizations, weatherization contractors, and other stakeholders to develop a robust pipeline of diverse workers with access to family-sustaining careers. By working with local advisory committees, the project partners will ensure that the recruitment materials meet local community needs and include practices that can be used more broadly during the national roll out.

“In order to continue the quality services provided to households participating in the Weatherization Assistance Program with existing funding and to take advantage of transformational funding opportunities, accelerated efforts are needed to recruit, train, and retain the future WAP workforce. We are honored to participate in this effort to overcome barriers, develop resources, and provide support to Weatherization Agencies to build the workforce of the future,” said Sandra Henry, President and CEO, Slipstream, Inc., one of the partners on the project.

“Recruiting for Weatherization Assistance Programs is often a challenge, but at the Building Performance Institute we know this country is full of bright, ambitious young people who want to make a difference in their communities and for the planet. We look forward to partnering with IREC to remove barriers, improve strategies, and welcome a new generation of people from underrepresented communities into this exciting industry,” said Larry Zarker, CEO at the Building Performance Institute, another partner.

Partners on the project include Building Performance Institute, The Clean Energy Center at Pennsylvania College of Technology, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Providence, Julius Education, National Association for State Community Services Programs, Richard Heath & Associates, Inc., Slipstream, State of Wisconsin Department of Administration (Division of Energy, Housing and Community Resources), State of Oklahoma Department of Commerce, and Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies.

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About IREC: The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) builds the foundation for rapid adoption of clean energy and energy efficiency to benefit people, the economy, and our planet. Its vision is a 100% clean energy future that is reliable, resilient, and equitable. IREC develops and advances the regulatory reforms, technical standards, and workforce solutions needed to enable the streamlined integration of clean, distributed energy resources. IREC has been trusted for its independent clean energy expertise for 40 years, since its founding in 1982. For more information, visit www.irecusa.org or follow IREC on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

MEDIA CONTACT: Avery Palmer, Communications Project Director, IREC, 202-302-2765, [email protected]