Formerly incarcerated women get a shot at clean energy careers through U-PACT Oregon program, supported by the Oregon Clean Energy Workforce Coalition

Apr. 03, 2024

The Union Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Training Program (U-PACT Oregon) offers something that few other opportunities provide: a pathway to family-wage, union careers after incarceration. For U-PACT Oregon participants – adults in custody at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility – it’s nothing short of transformative.

“This program has absolutely changed my life,” says Ashley Lautenschlager, a graduate of this year’s cohort.

Ashley was one of five women who celebrated program completion at an event on March 28 during which the participants demonstrated their mastery of ironwork, cement masonry and bricklaying skills developed over the course of the 12-week program.

PGE and the Oregon Clean Energy Workforce Coalition received a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to fund U-PACT Oregon for three years, allowing the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility and union partners to continue training more women for construction jobs critical to the clean energy transition. Upon their release, U-PACT Oregon graduates have easier entry into an apprenticeship program with one of three union crafts.

“It sets you up not just with a job, but with a career,” said Deserae Taylor, one of this year’s program graduates.

For Brooke Brownlee, who manages PGE’s external workforce, labor and economic prosperity efforts, these women have the exact mindset needed to transform the energy sector.

“Their passion, dedication and grit are contagious,” she said.

Supporting U-PACT Oregon is one of several ways PGE is working to create new pathways to clean energy jobs. The Oregon Clean Energy Workforce Coalition, which PGE launched in 2022, is also investing in K-12 education programs, creating new resources for career seekers, and conducting a statewide assessment to better understand workforce needs and obstacles in Oregon.

For U-PACT Oregon participants, the experience means so much more than new job skills. It's about creating a renewed sense of identity and hope.

“I turned this time [at Coffee Creek] into a future,” said Ashley. “I’m an ironworker at heart. I’ve got steel in the veins!”

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About Portland General Electric
Portland General Electric (NYSE: POR) is an integrated energy company that generates, transmits and distributes electricity to over 930,000 customers serving an area of 1.9 million Oregonians. For more than 130 years, Portland General Electric (PGE) has powered social progress, delivering safe, affordable, reliable and increasingly clean electricity while working to transform energy systems to meet evolving customer needs. PGE customers have set the standard for prioritizing clean energy with the No. 1 voluntary renewable energy program in the country. PGE is committed to reducing emissions from its retail power supply by 80% by 2030 and 100% by 2040. PGE is recognized by the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index for the company’s commitment to creating a more equal, inclusive workplace. In 2023, PGE employees, retirees and the PGE Foundation donated nearly $4.6 million and volunteered over 23,000 volunteer hours to more than 400 nonprofit organizations. For information, visit PGE.

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PGE Communications Team