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Pioneering Climate Resilient Jobs

November 7, 2023

At A Glance

Meet the New JFFLabs Entrepreneurs in Residence Cohort

Tyler Nakatsu Director, JFF
Practices & Centers

In an era of rapidly escalating climate challenges and opportunities, the need for innovative solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change has never been more urgent. And in a society where millions of people have limited access to quality jobs, it’s especially important that those solutions help drive equitable economic advancement. 

The JFFLabs Climate Resilient Solutions entrepreneurs in residence cohort is a dynamic group of visionary entrepreneurs who are leading the charge in revolutionizing the green economy. Their mission is twofold: to address the environmental challenges associated with climate change while also eradicating systemic racial and socioeconomic inequities by creating quality green jobs that are accessible to all. Together, their collective solutions are laying the groundwork for a more sustainable future and eliminating barriers that have long prevented many people from accessing quality jobs.  

Learn more about each member of this inspiring cohort and explore how their companies and products are at the forefront of the movement to promote climate resilience and inclusive economic growth. From transforming waste into valuable biomaterials to repurposing biomass waste for clean energy, navigating the green labor market, connecting jobseekers with opportunities, revolutionizing agriculture, and reinventing freight transportation, these entrepreneurs are creating solutions that not only combat climate change but also break down barriers to quality employment.  

Stefano Alva, Farm to Flame Energy

Stefano Alva, the chief commercial officer of Farm to Flame Energy (FTF), is on a mission to reshape how industrial manufacturing facilities handle biomass waste and provide affordable sources of clean renewable power to areas that lack it. The company’s products include generators that use a patented smokeless and odorless combustion process to produce electricity by burning fuel made from several types of plant-based feedstocks, including corn husks and sawdust, that were once unsuitable for energy generation. FTF has worked with large companies like Georgia Pacific and Lyndon Furniture, which indicates that it has the capacity to promote adoption of environmentally sustainable practices in the manufacturing sector and help create green jobs at scale. In another sign of its long-term potential, the company has also secured seed funding and won an EPA Small Business Innovation Research grant.

Shakir Cannon-Moye, Julius

Shakir Cannon-Moye, a vice president at Julius, understands that the transition to a clean energy economy demands a well-prepared workforce. Julius’s Talent Accelerator programs offer short-term training experiences that equip learners with skills they need to gain a foothold in the green economy, and its Career Path Platform connects jobseekers with employers. The company also uses artificial intelligence and data analytics to identify labor market needs and, among other things, assess specific regions’ readiness for the transition to a green economy. Julius is committed to creating inclusive pathways to the green economy for jobseekers of all backgrounds, and it has forged partnerships with government agencies, industry trade associations, and major employers to build those pathways. By helping individuals enter and advance in green careers, Julius is playing a crucial role in the effort to build climate resilience.

Kala Fleming, Frontline Gig

Kala Fleming, the CEO of Frontline Gig, is taking an innovative approach to building a green talent pipeline and empowering people to access career opportunities in the green economy. Calling itself “an Uber for green jobs,” Frontline Gig helps people who like to work outdoors find local training programs and get jobs at organizations working to mitigate the impact of climate change. As they gain experience and expertise, clients build skill profiles on Frontline’s platform, where they can connect with new opportunities. With a remarkable annual revenue run rate, Frontline Gig has shown that its innovative strategy of closing the green economy skills gap by engaging hourly workers and putting them in a position to succeed in the green economy is a viable business model. The company’s approach aligns perfectly with Jobs for the Future’s goal of helping to advance climate resilience by supporting programs that help workers prepare for and advance in quality green jobs.

Robert Luo, Mi Terro

Robert Luo, the CEO of Mi Terro, embodies the spirit of resilience and innovation. A venture-backed company, Mi Terro uses synthetic biology and advanced materials to transform low-value biomass waste into high-value biomaterials. It has developed groundbreaking technology that reduces plastic waste and CO2 emissions by taking leftover materials from food production and paper-making processes and converting them into bio-based polymers that are water-degradable and home-compostable. Mi Terro says the materials it produces can replace the plastics used in a variety of consumer products, including dishwasher and laundry pods, and paper packaging, and textiles, putting it in the same market as major brands like P&G, Unilever, and Henkel. The company’s patented biomaterial is a USDA Certified Bio-Based Product. Mi Terro has a dedication to fighting climate change at its core, reflected in its commitment to reducing our reliance on materials made with fossil fuels.

Tinia Pina, Re-Nuble

Tinia Pina, the founder and CEO of Re-Nuble, is on a mission to transform agriculture with products and processes that support environmentally sustainable growing practices. Re-Nuble uses a proprietary process to transform vegetative food waste into organic nutrients and grow media that indoor farms can use instead of peat, reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions. With active contracts and a substantial sales pipeline, Re-Nuble is in a position to create jobs that advance climate resilience in the agriculture industry. In its work with JFF, the company aims to build a workforce development program that trains candidates for those jobs.

Max Yergan, Emissionless

Max Yergan, the founder of Emissionless, envisions a faster, safer, cleaner, and more equitable freight transportation system that produces lower emissions than the current system and enhances the quality of life for truck drivers. Emissionless is designing innovative new logistics solutions and provides technology, infrastructure, and tech-enabled services to enable drivers to save time, earn more, and enjoy the convenience of starting and ending their workdays at home. As the transportation industry undergoes a significant transformation, Emissionless’s innovative approach has the potential create high-paying green jobs while addressing challenges that truck drivers face. By collaborating with JFF and other transformative companies, Emissionless aims to explore ways to improve workforce development and enhance quality of life for drivers.

The members of the JFFLabs Climate Resilient Solutions entrepreneurs in residence cohort lead innovative companies that are building a more environmentally sustainable and equitable future.  

They each work in different sector of the economy and offer unique solutions, but they share a commitment to curbing climate change and mitigating its impacts while also embracing JFF’s mission to drive equitable economic advancement through their efforts to expand career opportunities in the green economy and help workers develop skills and expertise that prepare them for quality jobs.  

As these entrepreneurs continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in the green economy, they offer hope for a world where climate resilience and quality green jobs go hand in hand, creating a brighter and more sustainable future for all.  

This new cohort is supported by the Ares Charitable Foundation through the Climate-Resilient Employees for a Sustainable Tomorrow (CREST) initiative. CREST is a five-year, $25 million career preparation and reskilling initiative of the Ares Foundation that aims to close the gap between the demand for a skilled workforce for green jobs and the number of people prepared for these opportunities. Working with our partners and local communities, we can deepen our impact, harness new opportunities and help create a green, resilient future that benefits generations to come. 

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