Empowerment Through Education

By Tyi Johnson, GETS Graduate

I’m proud to be a part of the Rising Sun community. Here at Community Energy Services Corporation(CESC), we view Rising Sun as a trusted partner in the work we do to help our community become empowered to save energy.

As a graduate of Rising Sun’s Green Energy Training Services (GETS), a pre-apprenticeship job training program, I feel a strong connection to the organization. I completed the program in April 2012. I credit this experience for giving me the background that qualified me for my current role as Smart Lights Program Administrator at CESC.

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In many ways, I believe that my experience represents the potential impact GETS can have on its participants. I found work in the green sector after graduation. For a short while I worked for Rising Sun’s energy efficiency enterprise, Rising Sun Energy Services, where we were responsible for making homes more efficient. Following that experience, I continued to work with the GETS Case Manager who helped me secure a job at CESC.

I started in July 2014 as a Program Assistant. Nine months later I was promoted to the Program Administrator. CESC’s SmartLights Program helps small to medium-sized businesses become more energy efficient. Operating in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Marin Counties, the program offers free start-to- finish technical assistance and instant rebates to help defray the cost of upgrading or repairing existing equipment.

I enjoy working for a nonprofit. I enjoy what we do and the fact that we are making a difference. We’re all about saving energy and money. And I’ve learned that even in California there are still people who need to be educated. I see education as a key part of what CESC does. Education equals empowerment.

During my first year at CESC I continued to stay in touch with Rising Sun. In March of 2015 I was asked to join the organization’s Board of Directors. I know that my role is important, and I personally feeI compelled to advocate for the adult program, which serves those who are in need of a second chance.


I was 34 when I enrolled in the GETS program. The ages of my cohort ranged from early-20s to mid-50s. GETS participants are people desirous of changing the course of their lives. They are people who work hard to overcome their barriers to employment. Staying the course in the GETS program isn’t easy. But its results are immeasurable.

To close, I learned two things through my GETS experience that I hold with me today. Hard work does payoff. I am an example of that. And persistence is key. Keep on pressing on, even when it seems like you won’t succeed, because you will.



Beginning My Future In The Trade Industry

By Irene Toledo, GETS Graduate

Women Build means a lot to me. It has been a stepping stone towards me becoming a better person, and has steered me in the right direction for beginning my future in the trade industry.

I saw the flyer about Women Build at the office of my daughter’s preschool. Immediately, I became excited about the chance to become part of the first Women Build cohort. The staff at Rising Sun have been extremely wonderful and engaging with us.  I truly appreciate each of our instructors. As for the women in trades, I’m grateful for women like Meg and Cat who have taken the time to explain what we should expect on work sites once we begin our careers.

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Irene volunteering with Habitat for Humanity

I plan to use this experience, along with the skills we gained in the workshop and in the field to attain full-time employment in a union. I believe this is the best way for me to have a better future and become financially stable enough to care for my family. In this program, I have gotten along with people from different backgrounds and cultures, and I have formed some lasting friendships. I am a giver and I always want to make sure that my peers are fed and taken care of. But everyone has been equally supportive of me.

Workshop love with Zuri and Jenny

I am interested in pursuing a career in the Sprinkler Fitters or Painters trades. Because of the help from the staff and my other participants, I feel prepared enough to succeed in this male-dominated field. I know that I can handle any situation that comes my way.

Why Women Build Was Meant To Be

By Rokeeda Fernandes, GETS Graduate

I heard about Women Build at a recruitment meeting with Alameda County about the trade unions and their local hiring requirements. I was given a flyer by Susie from Tradeswomen Inc. There was another program that I was interested in joining for both men and women, that was considered to be more military-styled. I was preparing to go to their orientation when I called Melvin, the GETS Case Manager, to find out more information about the program, but I didn’t reach him. As I entered my class, the instructor made an announcement that we would receive a presentation from a man from Rising Sun named Melvin. That was my first sign that Women Build was meant to be.

Rokeeda, Day 1

From my first day at Rising Sun and all the way through the 8-week program, my experience has been nothing short of amazing. The staff and other program participants are an incredible group of people. I was hesitant to join an all women’s cohort, but I am glad I joined and stayed until the end. I am a reserved person and don’t easily open up to people, but in my own way, I have made connections with some really intelligent and cool women.

Women Build has been quite a journey and I have loved every bit of it. This was the first time I ever enjoyed a school setting and was enthused about coming, even on days when I didn’t feel good. The positive vibes (that I’m big on) were very comforting and inspiring. I have gained strong clarity about where I want to go with my career and I am proud of myself for staying focused throughout the entirety of the program, largely due to the support of my classmates.

Women Build In Action

I am well into my second week at a carpenters training center and it is hard core but fun. I am 100% going to become a carpenter. I am very creative and handy, and I have always had a lot of interest in building and remodeling things. Now that I am a mother, I am happy to be starting a career as a union carpenter and that I will be able to provide for my daughter.

I am looking forward to my future in the trades and I’m even more excited about being able to come back and tell my story, just like the amazing women before us have done.



Rising Sun to Honor CEC Commissioner David Hochschild at Bright Night Fundraiser



Berkeley, CA – April 7, 2016 – On Thursday, April 21, at 6pm, Rising Sun Energy Center will celebrate Bright Night 2016 at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, spotlighting Rising Sun’s continued achievements in youth employment, workforce development, energy and water conservation, and climate justice throughout the region.

Bright Night is Rising Sun’s annual fundraising event, where the organization welcomes 250 guests, including elected officials, corporate partners, and community organizations making an impact within the San Francisco Bay Area, and individual supporters. This year, Rising Sun welcomes Commissioner David Hochschild of the California Energy Commission as the Guest of Honor. Hochschild was appointed to the commission in 2013 by Governor Brown. His career has spanned public service, environmental advocacy and the private sector. His numerous awards include the Sierra Club’s Trailblazer Award for his work to advance clean energy.

Jodi Pincus, Rising Sun’s Executive Director, expressed her enthusiasm for the commissioner joining the event. “Throughout his career, Commissioner Hochschild has exemplified an unparalleled commitment to the innovative expansion of energy efficiency  and advancing clean energy throughout the state that is 100% in line with our values at Rising Sun. We are more than pleased to honor him and his outstanding work at Bright Night this year.”

Guests at Bright Night 2016 will enjoy hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer, a silent auction, and an inspiring presentation featuring Rising Sun’s program participants. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased through the Rising Sun website: www.risingsunenergy.org/bright-night/.

Bright Night 2016 sponsors include Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Barbara and Gerson Bakar, BBI Construction, Beneficial State Bank, Bright Plain Renewable Energy, Comerica Bank, Compass Financial Communications, the Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union, East Bay Municipal Utilities District, Genentech, the Greenlining Institute, Lance Reynolds, the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local Union No. 104, Skeo Solutions, SunPower, and Wells Fargo.

Rising Sun provides supporters with a variety of ways to contribute to Bright Night 2016. Sponsorships range from $20,000 for Visionary recognition to $1,000 for Energy Saver recognition. Benefits include event tickets, a feature in Rising Sun’s newsletter, website and Donor Wall recognition, social media publicity, and much more. For sponsorship inquiries, please contact Abigail Leonard, Development Manager, at leonard@risingsunenergy.org.

About Rising Sun Energy Center

Since 1994, Rising Sun Energy Center is a Berkeley-based non-profit with a mission to empower individuals to achieve environmental and economic sustainability for themselves and their communities. With a focus on under-served populations, Rising Sun provides youth and low-income adults with meaningful training and employment opportunities in the growing energy efficiency sector, while delivering no-cost energy upgrades to thousands of households each year.



Marrion Johnson

Communications and Development Coordinator

Rising Sun Energy Center

510-665-1501 ext. 106


Rising Sun Spotlight: The Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union

By Marrion Johnson

Sustainability is central to Rising Sun’s mission and values. We recognize that our communities require both environmental and economic sustainability in order to create a truly renewable future. For that reason, partnering with the Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union has been a no-brainer to Rising Sun.

As a member-owned and governed financial institution, the Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union has committed itself to providing quality services and education in a caring, responsible, professional manner, while encouraging the financial freedom of its members. Debbie Crowson, the Cooperative Center FCU’s Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Charter Group Relations, believes that credit unions are the best option for folks interested in making their money work for them. “One of the best benefits of joining our union is the low loan rates we offer. If you go to a bank and apply for a credit card, your rates are higher. Here, you’re eligible for lower rates. When you join us you can feel the difference. You feel like you’re a part of something bigger and good.”

The Cooperative Center FCU staff

The Cooperative Center FCU’s benefits don’t just stop there. They also are always looking for ways to reinvest in the community. “We try to support a lot of local nonprofits like Berkeley Food and Housing and the Alameda County Food Bank. We keep our business local. If we can keep our money in the area, that’s our preference.”

When asked what the credit union loves so much about Rising Sun, Debbie’s answer was simple. “We love your mission. We think you’re innovative, creative and doing wonderful things, especially with the youth.” And we appreciate the support.

Learn more about The Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union here.