Agents of Impact | April 2, 2021

Evette Ellis and Kameale Terry, ChargerHelp

Dennis Price
ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

ImpactAlpha, Apr. 2 – The co-founders of South Los Angeles-based electric-vehicle charging repair startup ChargerHelp could be on a poster for the Biden administration’s American Jobs infrastructure plans.

In just under a year, Evette Ellis and Kameale Terry have built a tech platform for servicing the emerging network of EV charging stations and making “electric vehicle service technician” a middle-class job accessible to anyone with a high school degree. ChargerHelp technicians get training, at least $30 an hour and equity in the company.

“We see what we’re doing as laying a foundation for workforce development of the future,” Terry told ImpactAlpha.

The company’s initial goal was to secure a major contract or two; instead, it has landed seven contracts with national charging networks, including ABB, SparkCharge and EV Connect, where Terry learned the business. This week, Ellis and Terry raised $2.8 million from a half-dozen venture funds focused on clean energy, good jobs and racial justice. 

The Biden administration is betting big on electric vehicles. Its infrastructure plan calls for $174 billion to build out the market, including a national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030 with strong labor, training, and installation standards.

“I’m ferocious when it comes to treating our technicians with dignity and respect and equity and paying them,” says Ellis, who witnessed her father treated poorly at work for decades. She won an official designation from the U.S. Department of Labor for “electric vehicle supply equipment technician” to legitimize the career path and help ChargerHelp source talent from federally-funded workforce development centers.

Terry says the team is ready to share its experience with Biden’s team. “At the bare minimum, we want to be in the room to dictate what it looks like to do equity,” says Terry. “You can still be a profitable business, you can still be venture backed and pay people all right.”