Request for Proposals: Solar Training Pipeline Program

Preparing individuals from diverse communities to join the PV solar installation workforce across Illinois


Note: This RFP from summer 2017 is now closed. To view all current grant opportunities, and sign up for alerts of future grant opportunities, please sign up for our online grant system, GrantCentral.


On August 1, The Chicago Community Trust released a request for proposals for a $3 million solar training pipeline program funded by Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd).

The Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act, signed into law last year, is expected to drive a significant increase in PV solar installation across the state. This will require an expanded and qualified workforce to help meet anticipated demand. Preparing individuals from diverse communities to join this workforce is the pipeline program’s main objective.

The RFP calls for qualified organizations to design a program that:

  • Recruits and enrolls people from “priority groups”: people with a criminal record and current and former foster children, with at least 50 percent of trainees recruited from environmental justice communities, which are predominately minority or low-income communities that are negatively and disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards
  • Provides a pathway for trainees to enter solar industry careers, with an emphasis on rooftop and utility-scale PV installation, through hands-on training, relevant certifications, or both
  • Coordinates with the Illinois Solar for All low-income installation program and other workforce development initiatives
  • Partners with employers on job placement, resulting in 2,000 placements for trainees by 2029.

This is a statewide funding opportunity. Public, private and nonprofit solar workforce service providers with an established presence in Illinois were encouraged to apply. Due to the broad program objectives and desire for an integrated training pipeline, organizations applying in partnership with sub-grantees or leveraging other funding sources will be more competitive.

Application Process

Applications for this grant opportunity were accepted through September 2017, with proposals reviewed in October—including site visits of select applicants—and applicants notified in Q4 of 2017.

Review Process

A two-tiered committee was named to review all proposals over the course of October:

Technical Review Committee
Workforce development experts who will gauge the legitimacy of the proposals from a job creation standpoint:

  • Matt Bruce, Executive Director, Chicagoland Workforce Funders Alliance
  • Patrick Campbell, Northern Regional Manager, IL Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
  • Adrian Esquivel, Deputy Director, Chicagoland Workforce Funders Alliance
  • Jennifer Miller Rehfeldt, Program Officer, Employment, The Lloyd A. Fry Foundation
  • Ayom Siengo, Sr. Manager, Financial Stability, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago
  • Deb Waldrop, Central/Southern Regional Manager, IL Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

Policy Review Committee
Individuals with knowledge and expertise in the energy markets, community development and organizational capacity:

  • Sharon Bush, Managing Director, Grand Victoria Foundation
  • Michael Davidson, Sr. Program Officer, Sustainable Development, The Chicago Community Trust
  • Anna Lee, Program Officer, Basic Human Needs & Social Services, The Chicago Community Trust
  • Antonio Martinez, Jr., Director of Development, The Chicago Community Trust
  • Johnnie Owens, Urban Planner & Community Organizer, Bronzeville Alliance
  • Becky Stanfield, Sr. Director, Western States, Vote Solar
  • Joanna Trotter, Sr. Program Officer, Economic & Community Development, The Chicago Community Trust
  • Mijo Vodopic, Program Officer, MacArthur Foundation

Foresight Design Initiative, a sustainability-focused innovation studio, is supporting The Chicago Community Trust in managing this RFP process, and will not review proposals.

Additional Resources

An information session was held on August 7 to address applicants’ questions about this grant opportunity. You can consult a list of Frequently Asked Questions from that session, or watch the complete recording of the session below for more insight into the program.


Download the complete RFP here

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