Eli Allen not only helps people find jobs, but also helps the health of the planet at the same time. The 30-year-old Bolton Hill resident is the head of Civic Works’ Baltimore Center for Green Careers (BCGC), an organization that seeks to find job placement for underemployed and unemployed individuals in environmentally friendly careers.
Under Allen, two new career tracks for BCGC have started in solar and stormwater management (in addition to environmental remediation and home weatherization). With this expansion, job placement in the program has doubled to 120 annually.
How did you get involved in finding people green careers?
I started with Civic Works in 2009, but I had done some work with the EPA and am passionate about the environment. At the time, I saw that there was a growing area with Civic Works that connected people to jobs [with] access to good-paying careers while also advancing positive environmental outcomes and strengthening communities through their work.
What does this work mean to you?
It’s incredibly important to me. It’s being at the intersection of work that improves the environment and expands job access. Every day, people come through our doors with the drive and motivation to succeed in a career but haven’t had the opportunity to develop the skills or had an employer willing to give them a chance. We’re building on these industries that have a need for talented workers. We’re part of that movement to ensure that every worker has the skills, experience and support to be successful. We’re opening up access rather than locking people out of jobs.
Why is BCGC important for Baltimore?
One of our core challenges is ensuring that every resident has access to a family-sustaining career. We help address the systems that lock too many people, especially people of color, out of good-paying jobs. The training Civic Works provides ensure that residents have the skills, credentials, experience, transportation and support to succeed in a green career.
At the same time, we work with employers to advance equity and inclusion in their hiring and employment — expanding their recruitment networks, implementing inclusive skills-based hiring, supporting career advancement and strengthening wages and benefits. For example, we help employers develop inclusive practices for considering a criminal record in hiring, recognizing that while a record is often one of the most significant barriers to employment, most convictions are not relevant to most jobs.
As we shift to a clean energy economy, we are working to harness the resulting job growth for the benefit of Baltimore residents who need it the most. The sustainability-based economy, by combining meaningful employment with a living wage, can serve as a vehicle for economic transformation. It can be model for inclusion in Baltimore.
Where do you hope to take this program?
As we advance sustainability in Baltimore, our goal is to develop additional training tracks that prepare Baltimore residents for these new emerging careers — focused on reducing energy use, producing renewables, restoring our environment and removing contamination. At the same time, we are growing the technical assistance we provide to employers around advancing equity and inclusion within the workplace. As part of this, we are helping companies that meet minimum employment standards brand themselves as socially responsible, translating their positive practices into marketing value. I believe that growing a multifaceted strategy that engages job seekers and employers is essential for advancing job access in Baltimore.
How can people apply?
We have a weekly information meeting for Baltimore City residents every Tuesday at 1 p.m. at our training center (6260 Frankford Ave.). It’s open to the public, and it’s a great opportunity for people to learn each of the tracks and opportunities in the industry.
What is your Jewish background?
I’m a member of Beth Am Synagogue in Reservoir Hill. My wife and I are active members, and our Jewish values inform our work in the community and the importance of advancing justice and serving as allies on those issues.