27 Nov


Cleveland Owns is hiring a full-time Energy Democracy Organizer to lead our Energy Democracy Initiative, a portfolio of projects that promote community control over our energy system. The Energy Democracy Organizer will organize with residents impacted by energy injustice and the climate crisis, and develop community-owned solar projects. A full description is available below.

Starting in early 2023, the organizer will work full-time for one year on a contract that pays $45,000. While the organizer must be based in Cleveland, they will work a mix of remote and in-person. This position offers unlimited paid time off. Interested applicants should email a cover letter and resume and 3 professional references to Cleveland Owns at info@clevelandowns.coop by Monday, January 16, 2023.

Full job description - Energy Democracy Organizer at Cleveland Owns

Cleveland Owns is recruiting a new team member ready to challenge racial capitalism by organizing with Cleveland residents for energy democracy. 

As the Energy Democracy Organizer at Cleveland Owns, you’ll lead our Energy Democracy Initiative, a portfolio of projects that promote energy democracy–community control over our energy system. 

Your primary project will be to support the Cleveland Solar Cooperative (www.clevelandsolar.org), a multi-class, multi-racial, resident-owned solar enterprise Cleveland Owns incubated. You’ll lead community education and recruitment, manage a team of volunteers, and develop the business side of CSC’s community-owned solar projects. 

You’ll also support other projects in Cleveland Owns’ energy democracy portfolio, such as supporting The BC, a group of neighbors in Hough working on a community solar array, co-coordinating a grassroots coalition fighting for more democratic electric utilities, and participating in national policy organizations that promote energy democracy. 

The Energy Democracy Organizer will work ~80% remotely, and ~20% in-person for several one-on-one meetings and community gatherings each week across Cleveland. They must be based in Cleveland be willing to travel to different parts of the City. Cleveland Owns will provide access to a computer and a cell phone stipend.

Responsibilities and Duties

This role is two parts business development, and one part community organizing. On the business development side, you’ll work with Cleveland Solar Cooperative (CSC) as a project manager for their first collectively owned solar project. You’ll help CSC member owners fundraise $200,000 for our first project. You’ll set clear deadlines for finalizing legal documents such as a power purchase agreement with a host for the solar array; you’ll launch a request for proposal for a solar installer; and you’ll coordinate the construction teams we hire to install the array. You’ll help the volunteer CSC board track financial KPIs and report on progress of the project. And you will build relationships with CSC Member Owners to ensure they understand the fundraising specifics of the projects they’re contributing to. 

Your community organizing work with CSC will be to educate and motivate CSC members regarding what’s at stake for decisive local action for climate justice. You will develop the leadership of CSC members so they are able to step into more responsibility within the organization and grow CSC’s capacity. Specifically, your job is to grow CSC’s members to 200 member owners, from 35 today. 

This work will be centered on building trusting relationships with people of various races, class backgrounds, and levels of knowledge around solar. 

Complementing this work with Cleveland Solar Cooperative are several other discrete energy democracy projects. You will support The BC in writing an updated business plan and coaching that group through the lengthy process of acquiring site control for their ground-mount solar array. You will facilitate meetings of a new local  coalition advocating for more accountable local utilities. And you about every other week you’ll join calls with national energy democracy organizations to deepen your education and relationships connected with this work.

All this work is part of Cleveland Owns’ Energy Democracy Initiative, an effort to bring the principles of Just Transition to life in Cleveland by starting solar cooperatives and advocating for just energy policy. Cleveland Owns incubated CSC, and has a seat on the board. You’ll be an important bridge between the two organizations. As part of the Cleveland Owns team, you’ll work on miscellaneous tasks for our organization as well as your work with CSC. 

Qualifications and Skills

The best candidates for this job are committed challenging racial capitalism and building a more just economic system through the cooperative movement. They have demonstrated resilience through adversity. They’re excited to jump into the details of operating a start-up solar community enterprise. And they’re open to learning new things–lots of new things!--about co-ops, solar, organizing across race and class, and themselves. 

Cleveland Owns will support you in this role as you deepen your skills related to business development and community organizing. Experience in both, or at least demonstrated interest in both, though, is a helpful starting place. We pride ourselves on building a powerful culture to nurture professional and personal development. 

Any combination of formal education, paid work experience, unpaid/volunteer experience, and life experience will be considered to meet the following qualifications and skills:

  • Commitment to social, economic and ecological justice, and working towards the liberation and well being of all people
  • Working knowledge of business principles, tools, and terminology 
  • Proficient with Google Suite, Microsoft Office, Zoom, and conference calls
  • Strong time management skills; self-motivated with accuracy and attention to detail
  • Emotionally intelligent; someone who asks meaningful, appropriate personal questions during a one-on-one meeting, and collaborates well with others
  • Willing to learn from mistakes, receive feedback, and give feedback to others
  • Committed to building a culture of mutual accountability, liberation, and respect
  • Experience facilitating interactive, upbeat meetings on Zoom
  • Effective written communications

Preferred qualifications and skills:

  • Direct experience in one or more aspects of the business side of solar (e.g., solar finance, procurement, project management)
  • Community organizing expertise that has resulted in systems change and strong personal relationships
  • Experience working in a cooperative enterprise or in a formal collaborative environments (e.g., serving on a board of a local nonprofit)
  • Demonstrated commitment to solidarity economy values, such as racial, economic, and climate justice; cooperative ownership; democratic governance; and systems change

Deadline and how to apply

To apply, submit a cover letter and resume and three professional references to info@clevelandowns.coop by Monday, January 16, 2023. 

Equal Opportunity Employer

The Cleveland Owns is an aggressive advocate of affirmative action and welcomes applications from everyone, particularly from people of color; women; LGBTQ people; immigrants or
refugees; people with disabilities; and people from low- or moderate-income backgrounds; and Cleveland residents.

Cleveland Owns does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, height, weight, or marital status in employment or the provision of services. 

About Cleveland Owns

Founded in 2019, Cleveland Owns is a nonprofit cooperative business incubator working to build community wealth and power through collective ownership. We are incubating two solar cooperatives, a broadband internet co-op, a food co-op, and a purchasing cooperative of faith institutions. We have two full-time workers and a majority-Black board of eight people. We work with over 100 volunteers across Northeast Ohio actively involved with our projects.

We’re motivated to do this work because we know that in racial capitalism, ownership confers control and the power to profit. We believe we must build alternative institutions to democratize ownership even as we act to dismantle a system based on white supremacy and worker exploitation that concentrates wealth and power in the hands of the few. We envision a Cleveland where groups of neighbors and groups of workers are equipped to self-organize to take back economic power and pursue justice on their own terms. 

What past team members have to say about working with Cleveland Owns

"I enjoyed my time working at Cleveland Owns because of the inspiring team and supporting culture. Everyone here is passionate about making impacts and is determined to make Cleveland a better place. I love Cleveland Owns because it helped me grow. As an intern, I didn’t get trapped in the “intern work.” Instead, they tried to bring the best out of me and let me thrive. I brought ideas to Cleveland Owns, and the supportive team empowered me to reach my full potential. My time at Cleveland Owns was genuinely rewarding."

- Ariana H., Cleveland Owns Intern, summer 2022

"Interning at Cleveland Owns was an experience that truly helped me grow. The team is dynamic and driven on all the projects we touched upon. I had access to mentorship, learning through experience and I was invited to take initiative. I learned a great deal in communications, community organization, and burning topic issues.

“When working with Cleveland Owns I was exposed to the real consequences of what our lawmakers haven't taken into account and I learned about the intricacies of environmental and social justice. The most important part was seeing how grassroots organizations and community initiatives can solve these issues. I had the best experience while working on empowering communities. Cleveland Owns showed me what real change looks like. "

- Mariana H., Cleveland Owns Intern, summer 2021

"Cleveland Owns is a fantastic company to work for. I have grown both personally and professionally with Cleveland Owns. This experience helped fulfill my professional goals of developing my knowledge of accounting systems, managerial communications, and research. 

“Cleveland Owns has also assisted in my personal development. I learned about the strength of personal testimonies, how to become more emotionally empathetic with others, and the importance of anti-racism. I have more confidence in myself and my background. I never thought that I would be able to develop emotional empathy and self-confidence through a virtual work experience, but working with Cleveland Owns definitely has that effect.":

- Matthew L., Cleveland Owns Intern, summer 2020

“During the summer of 2019 I had the amazing opportunity to intern with Cleveland Owns. High expectations, as well as the culture of learning and growth, allowed me to flourish. Working with Cleveland Owns gave me the opportunity to see that change can come from those who inhabit that community if there is dedication and strategic partnerships. I would recommend any friend or associate that wants to make a tangible social change to consider working with Cleveland Owns.”

- James G., Cleveland Owns intern, summer 2019

"Working for Cleveland Owns gave me the tools that I needed to harness my passions, and gave me the power to coalesce with community members to effect change in Cleveland. Cleveland Owns weaponizes grassroots organizing while creating formidable changemakers who want to see an equitable and justified future."

- Ashley R., Cleveland Owns organizer, winter 2020

Note: Some of the wording on this job description has been adapted from job postings by the New Economy Coalition and the Center for Economic Democracy and the Center for Community Wealth Building, groups that inspire us daily!

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