Veteran Team Leaders

The state of Illinois has 802,834 veterans.[1] Unemployment for veterans for 18 to 24 year olds rose to 30% in 2011.[2] The difficulty of finding a job is growing as the economic environment remains stagnant. Joblessness leads to other social problems, such as divorce, drug and alcohol abuse and homelessness. It is estimated that there are 150,000 homeless veterans[3] as of 2009. That number will continue to grow as veterans return home from Afghanistan and Iraq to an economy plagued by weak economic growth.

The 100 Quads program will provide carefully selected and screened veterans with training as role models, advocates and mentors for young people involved in the criminal justice system (parole, probation / supervision, diversion programs). Additionally we will train veterans in energy efficiency technologies to effectively implement conservation measures in residential and commercial buildings. We plan to tailor a mix of social services, soft skills training and energy technologies education based on the interests, background, experiences and skills of individual veterans. All veterans will be trained and expected to collaborate closely with existing social service professionals, case managers and healthcare professionals.

Many military veterans will emerge as ideal leaders for this program because of their technical training, experience and discipline. These skills provide a solid basis for getting the job done, and can provide exemplary role models for young people.

  • Veterans are role models as heroes who have served our country and conquered adversity.
  • Veterans who have suffered from PTSD, depression or other mental illnesses, can leverage their personal experience in recovery to work with youths who face similar personal challenges.
  • Veterans bring the experience of living under military structure and discipline - they understand the importance of predictability, rules and order.
  • Veterans can be staunch advocates for young people whom they mentor.

Young People

27% of African-American male students and 30% of Hispanic male students drop out of the Chicago Public School System without earning their high school diploma[4]. High school dropout leads to increased unemployment, decreased lifetime earning potential and increased rates of incarceration. It is imperative that we show these students the importance of staying in school and the huge opportunities that education will bring to their lives. Many of these youths lack the role models within their communities to provide them with the guidance required to break the cycle of disadvantage. The ultimate solution to this problem is to provide more support and structure while they are malleable young people. The deployment of supportive resources by Veterans through mentoring, supervision and job training will provide these needed qualities.

Like veterans, young people will be carefully selected and screened. Initially, we expect to recruit primarily young people 18-25 years old. There are currently a few training programs, like Redeploy Illinois, that target young people but those served by today’s programs represent only a small fraction of the total population. For programs to scale to meet growing needs, there must be a value proposition that does not depend on state or federal funds. Once the 100 Quads program is operational, we expect that the revenue generated from sale of energy efficiency services will offset the cost of running the program.

Energy Efficiency Training

Reducing energy consumption in buildings is an imperative driven by concerns about energy security, rising energy costs and the need to reduce the environmental damage of fossil fuel consumption. Buildings in the US account for 39% of energy consumption and 68% of electricity consumption. If we are to transition from an imported fossil fuel dependent economy to a low carbon, self-sufficient economy then it is paramount that we aggressively address the energy efficiency of the built environment.

Previous state and federal incentivized energy efficiency programs have primarily targeted the commercial building sector and high value residential communities. The low-income neighborhoods are in great need of money saving conservation measures, because of their economic situation and the burden of high utility costs. The main financial assistance program is LIHEAP, which in Illinois is administered by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). LIHEAP provides a subsidy to offset utility costs, but this is just a band-aid for a problem that requires a bolder approach.

We see energy efficiency training for veterans and youths as a springboard to a greater sense of pride and self-reliance by building skills that save money and earn positive recognition from their communities. The program will help both groups learn interpersonal skills while developing valuable relationships throughout their community.

“I'm talking about respect, about common sense and decency, about the dictate that our best hopes must always be acted upon, that all people everywhere possess an innate hunger for, and right to, what is sustaining, good, and beautiful.” Bill Strickland

Program Execution

The 100 Quads program will target communities of returning citizens and veterans based on demographic data, mainly population size, age and income levels. It is our ultimate goal that we will show both veterans and the young people that a career in the trades is choice-worthy work that is meaningful because it is genuinely useful.

After selecting a community to target, we will work with local alderman and veteran agencies to identify ideal candidates based on: mentoring abilities, technical knowledge, and employment. The veteran candidates will go through an intensive training program that will develop and hone skills in mentoring, relationships, counseling, and intervention. In parallel with development of mentoring skills, the veterans will receive workforce training in energy efficiency technologies. All trainees will follow a standard curriculum that will cover basic building technologies (smart thermostats, sensors, building automation, sub-meters, etc.) and efficient lighting systems and controls.

These two sets of technologies have excellent savings potential and return on investment among energy conservation measures that do not require extensive specialized training. After a veteran completes initial coursework and gets field experience, he or she will have an opportunity to specialize in other technical fields of energy efficiency technologies, like HVAC systems, solar and wind technologies, demand response, advanced building automation and energy management systems.

After graduation, the veterans will be based in local facilities and work with directly with their Energy Efficiency Crew of 4-6 young people. The veteran will function as the crew leader and will oversee the education and needs of each crew member.

Our training program will be modeled on a dual path educational system, combining vocational training in a classroom setting with apprenticeships in the field. This is similar to the German Berufsfachschule model for secondary education that provides knowledge of theory and practice. For example, younger people will learn in the classroom the energy demands of different lighting systems – traditional incandescent versus power compact and LED lights, usage patterns, and practical measures to reduce energy demands of lighting systems. The 100 Quads crews will work in both residential and commercial buildings to perform lighting switch-outs and installation of occupancy sensors to reduce energy demands. Modeled on the German apprenticeship programs, young people will be paid an hourly wage during the hands-on phase of their curriculum. This wage will demonstrate the value of services that they provide and help to compensate them for extra time they invest in education.

After students graduate, we will award certificates that students can leverage to pursue their future career options: (1) further education from a technical college such as IIT or City Colleges, (2) apprenticeship program with a labor or trades union or (3) placement with a local partnering contracting firm. The net result being that these young adults will have an option to pursue a viable and rewarding career path that brings great economic value to both families and communities.

[1] Department of Veteran Affairs – State of Illinois Summary, Nov 2010

[2] As War Ends, Young Veterans Return to Scant Jobs, New York Times, 12/18/2011

[3] Ending homelessness among returning war veterans, Washington Times 12/6/2009

[4] High School Dropouts in Chicago and Illinois 11/2011