On February 2, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of 19 organizations to receive a total of $3,797,102 in grants for restoration economy job training programs across the country.
The goal is to use brownfield remediation and redevelopment to advance economic revitalization while delivering environmental justice to underserved communities to build a better America. Each selected grantee will be receiving approximately $200,000.
Alice J. Savino, Executive Director of the Workforce Development Board of Herkimer, Madison and Oneida Counties, said “Redeveloping brownfields is an important part of revitalizing our communities. It is equally important that that we provide the people who live in and around our Brownfields the chance to play a major role in restoring and renovating their neighborhoods. This project provides skills that will be of value in our region now and in the future. The WDB looks forward to helping the women and men of our region connect with the opportunities this project offers, and we appreciate the support of the Environmental Protection Agency for our efforts.”
Funded through the Agency’s Brownfields Job Training Program, these grants provide funding to organizations that are working to create a skilled workforce in communities where assessment, cleanup, and preparation of brownfield sites for reuse activities are taking place.
Capital Region Workforce Development Board Executive Director Brian Williams said, “In collaboration with the Workforce Development Boards in our communities, this EPA funding will allow us to deliver training and quality employment opportunities in brownfield assessment and cleanup fields to unemployed and underemployed residents. Our strong partnerships with the Workforce Development Boards affords us the ability to enhance our communities’ infrastructure and create career pathway approaches in the environmental field that promote job and career opportunities for all NYS residents.”
Individuals completing a job training program funded by EPA often overcome a variety of barriers to employment. Many of these individuals are from historically underserved neighborhoods and reside in the areas affected by environmental justice issues.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a better America and that means new, good-paying jobs. The Brownfields Job Training grants announced today will prepare over 1,000 individuals for new environmental jobs like those,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “This program will directly impact people’s lives, boosting the environmental workforce while helping to transform communities that need it the most.”
Here’s some insight into three sample winners, all in New York:
- Laborers’ Local 17 Training & Educational Fund, Newburgh, N.Y. – The Laborers’ Local 17 Training & Educational Fund plans to train 122 students in New York’s Capital District and the Mohawk and Hudson Valley regions and place at least 33 in environmental jobs. The training program includes 712 hours of instruction, including federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration courses, asbestos, lead and hazardous waste trainings, and first aid and CPR classes. Students who complete the training will earn up to three state certifications and nine federal certifications. The Laborers’ Local 17 Training & Educational Fund is targeting unemployed, underemployed, dislocated students and those that live in poverty, distressed communities, have little or no advanced education, and minorities that live in communities affected by environmental hazards. Key partners include the Orange County Workforce Development Board, One Stops, Eastern NY Laborers Local 190, Laborers Local 157, Professional Abatement Contractors, Rural Ulster Preservation Company, Habitat for Humanity, the Department of Social Services, various local departments of public works, Orange County Partnership, SUNY Orange Community College, BOCES, Newburgh Enlarged City School District, the City of Newburgh, United Way, the Workforce Development Institute, Best Resource Center, Working Solutions, Nubian Directions II, Inc., BRC, Workforce Development Board/Working Solutions Herkimer, Madison & Oneida Counties, Inc., LIUNA Local 190, 157, 754, and 235, the New York State Department of Environmental Protection, Construction Contractors Association, the Capital Region Workforce Development Board, Holt Construction and Specialty Trades Contracting LLC.
- PathStone Corporation, Rochester, N.Y. – The PathStone Corporation plans to train 60 students in Puerto Rico and place at least 41 in environmental jobs. The training program includes 214 hours of instruction, including federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration courses, pesticide worker safety protection training, and asbestos, lead and mold abatement programs. PathStone Corporation is targeting unemployed and underemployed students throughout nine rural municipalities in Puerto Rico. Key partners include Corporacion del Proyecto ENLACE del Caño Martin Peña, Center for Creative Land Recycling, VACU-TOUR, Mercado Familiar, SHRM PR Chapter, Citizen Services Fair, Comité de Patronos, Junta Local Desarrollo, Toledo Engineering LLC, BLDM LLC, WRN Construction Inc., Industrial Central Services, Senadora Distrito de Arecibo, Oficina del Alcalde, Ciudad Autónoma Toa Alta, Junta Local de Desarrollo Laboral, Departamento de Desarrollo Económico y Comercio, Municipality of Cataño, The Área Local Desarrollo Laboral Manatí Dorado/American Job Center, the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies, and New Robles Driving School.
- City of Rochester, N.Y. – The City of Rochester plans to train 60 local students and place at least 49 in environmental jobs. The training program includes 250 hours of instruction, including federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration courses, training on the proper handling and disposal of lead, asbestos and mold, and techniques for environmental sampling. Students who complete the training will earn up to three state and five federal certifications. The City of Rochester is targeting dislocated workers, underemployed and unemployed individuals, low-income and minority residents, and veterans. Key partners include Rochester Works, Inc., Charles House Neighbors in Action, Aramsco, Inc., Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, AAC Contracting, Inc., Day Environmental Inc., Home Leasing, LaBella Associates, Lu Engineers, Monroe One Educational Services, and UNiCON.
Paul McFadden, Manager of Workforce & Programs Development-Division of Environmental Quality with the City of Rochester said, “After nearly 2 decades of providing Human Services and Workforce Development programming to the Western Region of New York, I can honestly say that the EPA Brownfields Job Training Grant is the sincerest grant program I’ve ever witnessed. It saves the lives of those individuals who seek to navigate themselves and their families out of poverty while at the same time making our communities a better community, a greener community!”
Rather than filling local jobs with contractors from distant cities, these organizations provide training and offer residents of communities historically affected by environmental pollution, economic disinvestment, and brownfields an opportunity to gain the skills and certifications needed to secure local environmental work in their communities. Individuals typically graduate with a variety of certifications that improve their marketability and help ensure that employment opportunities are not just temporary contractual work, but long-term careers.
This includes certifications in:
- Lead and asbestos abatement;
- Hazardous waste operations and emergency response;
- Mold remediation;
- Environmental sampling and analysis; and
- Other environmental health and safety training.
President Biden—with bipartisan congressional action—have delivered the single-largest investment in national brownfields infrastructure ever. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) invests more than $1.5 billion through EPA’s brownfields program.
Of that investment, $30 million will be invested into future Brownfields Job Training grants. During the next five years, communities, states, and tribes will have the opportunity to apply for larger grants to include and enhance the environmental curriculum in existing job training programs.
This investment will help trained individuals access jobs created through brownfields revitalization activities within their communities. EPA anticipates awarding as many as 50 additional grants to job training entities with BIL funding, beginning in fiscal year 2023. Application guidelines will be available in Spring/Summer 2022.
PathStone Program Administrator Mileidy Soto said, “PathStone is pleased to have been given the opportunity to continue serving residents in environmental justice communities obtain employment. With this new opportunity we will impact the municipalities of Morovis, Vega Baja, Vega Alta, Toa Baja, Toa Alta, Dorado, Cataño, Bayamón, and Naranjito with training and employment services guiding them towards environmental careers.”
EPA is also planning a listening session to receive feedback from current and potential grant applicants regarding the BIL and the future of the Brownfields Job Training Grant Program. The listening session is scheduled for February 9, 2022, 12:30-2pm EST. https://usepa.zoomgov.com/j/1604678094EXITEXIT EPA WEBSITE
Since this program began in 1998, the Brownfields Job Training Program has awarded more than 352 grants. More than 19,456 individuals have completed training, and of those, more than 14,560 individuals have been placed in full-time employment in careers related to remediation and environmental health and safety. The average starting wage for these individuals is over $14 an hour.
Brownfield photo via Pixabay.