Today's ceremony is designed to recognize the accomplishments of the graduating class and to find jobs for the men and women who are part of a community that has been hard hit by unemployment.
The City of Richmond's RichmondBUILD Green Careers Academy provides training in clean and renewable industries. But it also serves the underserved, many come from low income households, 95 percent are minorities and over 30 percent have a history with the justice system. Some, like Rosa Lara, have been displaced professionally and need a job and training.
"You go in not knowing what a two-by-two looks like to a four-by-four. The discipline you get and the skills you get from RichmondBUILD are really great," said RichmondBUILD graduate Rosa Lara.
Since taking office, California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom has made the push for an economic development plan to stimulate innovation and green jobs. The city of Richmond has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. Today's graduates are aiming to reduce those numbers.
"It is not just a training program, there are jobs. Right now we have an 80 percent placement at an average wage of $18 an hour - so they are good quality jobs," said RichmondBUILD Program Manager Sal Vaca.
The students of RichmondBUILD participate in a number of hands-on activities. In addition, they have the opportunity to work on real installations.
"I actually got to experience some live installs - some solar jobs. We got to install two homes for some clients out here and it was a really good experience actually," said RichmondBUILD graduate Jose Rubio.
"So it's working?" asked ABC7's Nick Smith.
"Yes it's working. I've already been offered a few jobs," said Rubio.
RichmondBUILD's partners include public and private organizations that help to underwrite costs and close the shortfall of federal and state dollars.
"Federal and public dollars have helped out, but they are not sufficient to put the quality training programs in place that we need in our community," said Vaca.
RichmondBUILD has open enrollment year-round.