EPA Awards $3.5M for Environmental Workforce Development

Cheryl McMullen, Freelance writer

June 27, 2016

3 Min Read
EPA Awards $3.5M for Environmental Workforce Development

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is granting $3.5 million to 18 projects across the country as part of its Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) grant program, providing environmental training to unemployed and economically-disadvantaged local residents.

The programs benefit local residents impacted by brownfield sites in their communities by helping to provide opportunities to secure work and build careers cleaning up these sites. Grantees, who will each receive a $200,000 grant, work in areas historically affected by unemployment, blight, economic disinvestment and solid and hazardous waste sites. The EWDJT program provides communities the flexibility to deliver training meeting specific labor market demands in fields such as: brownfields assessment and cleanup, waste treatment and storm-water management, electronics recycling, green remediation and emergency response.

“EWDJT grants transform lives by providing individuals the opportunity to gain meaningful long-term employment and a livable wage in the growing environmental field,” says Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management. “Individuals completing training have often overcome a variety of barriers to employment.”

The EWDJT program is intended to not only help revitalize the land, but also transform the lives of those living on it,’” he says. “We see this investment as a great way to more directly involve affected communities in their own revitalization.”

EWDJT grants are awarded to a broad range of communities with multiple indicators of need, including communities affected by natural disasters or the closure of manufacturing facilities, Economic Development Administration “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership” designated communities, and Housing and Urban Development/Department of Transportation/EPA “Partnership for Sustainable Communities” designated communities. Graduates of the EWDJT program have worked on response and cleanup activities associated with the 2010 BP oil spill along the Gulf Coast, the World Trade Center, and Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Sandy.

The goal is for graduates to develop a broad set of skills to improve their ability to secure meaningful full-time employment. Since the program’s inception in 1998, 256 grants have awarded more than $54 million. Approximately 14,700 individuals have completed training, and of those, more than 10,600 individuals have been placed in full-time employment with an average starting hourly wage of $14.34. This equates to a cumulative job placement rate of nearly 72 percent of graduates.

Among the grantees are:

The Energy Coordinating Agency: The Philadelphia-based agency plans to train 72 students and place at least 57 graduates in environmental jobs. Training will include 232 hours of instruction in solid waste management and cleanup, waste treatment and storm-water management, enhanced environmental health and safety, 40-hour HAZWOPER, mold remediation, and asbestos remediation. The program also will include supplemental training in job readiness skills through a Job Shadowing program. Participants who complete the training will earn eight state or federal certifications. The Energy Coordinating Agency is targeting unemployed and underemployed residents of Philadelphia.

Limitless Vistas: The New Orleans-based venture plans to train 60 students and place at least 42 graduates in environmental jobs. The core training program includes 344 hours of instruction in 40-hour HAZWOPER, brownfields site assessments, solid waste management and remediation, field technician basics, hazardous waste management and shipping, national incident management system, soil and groundwater sampling, discharge monitoring, sampling, and reporting, wetland ecology, and introduction to wastewater. Participants completing the training will earn one state certification and three federal certifications. Limitless Vistas is targeting unemployed and underemployed residents of New Orleans.

Nye County, Nev.: The county will provide Pahrump residents with training opportunities to work in environmental fields including work related to hazardous materials handling; identification, assessment, clean up, and remediation of contamination; and health and safety. Graduates of Nye County’s training program will interview with several firms for employment opportunities.

Cypress Mandela Training Center:  The Oakland, Calif., based center, a past recipient of EPA’s EWDJT grant CMTC will offer a 16-week pre-apprenticeship construction training program that includes eight weeks of environmental training. Students will earn six environmental certifications in hazardous waste management and cleanup. CMTC serves low-income unemployed residents and veterans of East and West Oakland, as well as other communities within Alameda County. CMTC has active partnerships with a number of utilities in need of workers with environmental technician skills.

About the Author(s)

Cheryl McMullen

Freelance writer, Waste360

Cheryl McMullen is a freelance journalist from Akron, Ohio, covering solid waste collection and transfer for Waste360.

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