LOS ANGELES — By the time California regulations require all new cars to be zero-emission vehicles in 2035, state officials predict more than 12 million new electric vehicles will be on the road.
At the Social Innovation Summit, change-makers of all kinds discussed society’s greatest challenges, including the CEOs of ChargerHelp!, a company that fixes EV charging stations.
If she wasn’t already immersed in the world of electric as the co-founder of ChargerHelp!, Evette Ellis definitely is now — as the new owner of a Tesla.
“This helps myself and my co-founder really understand and empathize with EV drivers,” she said as she plugged it in to charge.
It’s a deep commitment to their mission at ChargerHelp!, an organization that started just before the COVID-19 pandemic. Both Ellis and her co-founder, Kameale Terry, saw the impact of greenhouse emissions firsthand when their parents died from lung-related diseases.
Now, in three short years, Ellis said their company has raised more than $20 million to create new technology and train a diverse workforce that reflects the communities they work in.
As a Black woman from Compton in tech, Ellis said it’s vital to offer a liveable wage to their technicians, and she hopes she can serve as proof to society that innovation comes in all forms.
“That’s what I hope my ethnicity and my gender represents, that we don’t put brilliant ideas in a box, or in a neighborhood, or in a school,” she said.
It was their message to attendees at the Social Innovation Summit, an annual convening of community leaders across several sectors joining to discuss society’s most pressing issues.
Keynote speaker Will.i.am is a Grammy-winning artist known for creating one of the biggest hip-hop groups of our time — but also for his role in changing the landscape of technology as we know it.
He said as a Black kid from Boyle Heights, it was most important for him to invest back into his community, and he implores others to do the same.
“We need to do it more often, connecting the dots between philanthropy and entrepreneurs and investing,” he said. “How do we create a movement to where we see the importance of mentoring and preparing kids for tomorrow and then investing in them along the way?”
For him, it’s through his foundation, teaming with the Los Angeles Unified School District to provide STEM programs for disadvantaged youth who could one day build the same bridges as Ellis.
“Technology is here to bridge gaps,” she said. “Bridge education gaps, bridge training gaps, and that’s what’s making this so exciting for underserved communities.”
Recently, the White House announced a goal of building 500,000 EV chargers along U.S. highways by 2030. ChargerHelp! was recognized by the White House for its integral role in EV charger reliability and training a future workforce from under-represented communities.