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Variety Boys and Girls Club in Astoria gives teens head start in green careers

Dozens of Astoria teenagers graduated from a five-week STEM course at the Variety Boys and Girls Club providing potential career paths in green energy. (Photo courtesy of NYPA)

Thirty-nine Astoria teenagers from the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens graduated from a summer science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program where they learned about electricity and renewable energy and got a head start in green careers.

The program is part of a New York Power Authority (NYPA) collaboration with 174 Power Global and Con Edison to support an under-resourced community located near an upcoming clean energy project.

“Providing energy-related education better equips students to compete academically and gives them a head start in their careers,” said Lisa Payne Wansley, vice president of NYPA’s Environmental Justice program. “NYPA always strives to be a good neighbor to the historically disadvantaged and marginalized communities located near our statewide facilities and assets and we are excited to collaborate with 174 Power Global and Con Edison to engage more young people in the clean energy field and to develop even more meaningful programs and services going forward.”

(Photo courtesy of NYPA)

Last month, New York state energy regulators gave the green light to Con Edison and partner 174 Power Global to construct a large battery system in Astoria at the site of the old Charles Poletti fossil fuel plant near the East River. Henry Yun, the CEO of 174 Power Global, presented a $15,000 donation to the Variety Boys & Girls Club as part of the graduation.

“We’re committed to supporting programs that inspire the next generation of STEM professionals, and we are proud to partner with NYPA and Con Edison in supporting the great work of the Boys and Girls Club of Queens in STEM education and promoting the opportunity for science-related careers,” Yun said. “174 Power Global is committed to providing green economy jobs to the local community, in particular at a location that is close to our energy storage project, and this STEM program is a perfect fit with our mission of creating real change by working together.”

The middle school students spent five weeks learning the basics of energy production and consumption through interactive and animated lesson plans. They engaged in games and hands-on learning opportunities to better understand how electricity is generated and transmitted and investigated how different renewable energy systems will work throughout the state such as wind technology and battery storage.

(Photo courtesy of NYPA)

Richard David, Con Edison’s Director of Regional and Community Affairs in Queens, noted that Con Edison has been a supporter of the Variety Boys and Girls Club for decades.

“We are developing a generation of young people with the knowledge and interest in STEM to help lead us into a clean energy future with cleaner air and water and better health,” David said.

Students also learned about how the upcoming battery storage project in Astoria will be able to store or release electricity on demand, thus helping to support the integration of new sources of renewable energy like offshore wind, hydro and solar generation to help replace energy produced by fossil plants. Former Councilman Costa Constantinides, the author of the city’s Green New Deal, stepped down last winter to become CEO of the Astoria institution.

“The Variety Boys and Girls Club is so much more than a physical space; it’s where young minds come to grow,” Constantinides said. “Programming like NYPA’s five-week STEM program gives the kids hands-on experience with career paths and subject matter that is all around them, but not necessarily accessible. Western Queens generates roughly 60% of the city’s power, and programs like this show our local kids opportunities to participate in the fast-growing green energy sector they may not have previously known about.”

He added that the donation from 174 Global Power will go toward expanding STEM programs at the Variety Boys and Girls Club.

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