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EPA Selects Lawrence, Mass. Group for Brownfields Job Training Grant

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David Deegan (

BOSTON - Today, EPA announced that the Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board, of Lawrence, Mass., was one of 14 organizations nationwide selected to receive funding to operate environmental job training programs for local unemployed residents.

EPA selected the Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board for an Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grant. The Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board plans to train 28 students and place at least 22 graduates in environmental jobs. The core training program includes 170 hours of instruction in 40-hour HAZWOPER, OSHA 10-hour construction safety, commercial driver's license (CDL)–class B, CDL air brakes, CDL hazardous materials transport, CDL tanker truck operation, CDL hoisting and endorsement testing, and backhoe/front end loader operation.

Participants also will get credit for an additional 38 hours for attending an environmental careers fair, touring a wastewater treatment plant and the Department of Public Works facility, learning job site vocabulary and job seeking and resiliency skills, getting physical exams, and undergoing drug testing. Participants who complete the training program can earn one state and six federal certifications.

The Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board is targeting low-income and minority residents of Lawrence. Key partners include Centro de Apoyo Familiar, EnviroVantage, Groundwork Lawrence, Lawrence Community Works, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, National Response Corporation, Teamsters Local Union Number 25, TRC

Environmental Solutions, Triumvirate Environmental, and ValleyWorks Career Center.

Funded through the Agency's Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) Program, EPA is providing 14 organizations with a total of approximately $2.7 million to help residents learn the skills needed to secure employment in the environmental field. These grants help prepare people for green jobs that reduce environmental contamination and provide more sustainable futures for the communities most affected by solid and hazardous waste contamination.

"Brownfields job training programs are a win-win for communities impacted by hazardous waste sites," said U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "These job training programs can touch and change lives by providing valuable and marketable skills that also help protect our environment."

"Massachusetts has a proud history of environmental protection, and this workforce development and job training grant will help meet the demands of employers and job candidates," said Governor Charlie Baker. "We appreciate the EPA's support for the Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board and will continue pursuing steps at the state level to bolster educational training opportunities that are consistent with Massachusetts' commitment to a diverse, skilled workforce."

"The Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board is delighted to be awarded an U.S. EPA Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grant! We'll train unemployed residents of Lawrence, Massachusetts for "second rung" jobs as truck drivers and equipment operators on local brownfields sites. Program graduates will gain jobs that pay a family sustaining wage, and the whole community will benefit by transforming contaminated sites into areas ready for economic and recreational redevelopment. We're grateful for this opportunity to help create a healthier and more prosperous city and region," said Rafael Abislaiman, Executive Director of the Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board.

For over two decades, EPA's EWDJT program has helped put people to work by building a skilled workforce across the country. The program awards competitive grants to nonprofit organizations and other eligible entities to recruit, train and place unemployed and underemployed individuals. Individuals completing the training have often overcome a variety of barriers to employment. Many are from low-income neighborhoods. The training programs also serve dislocated workers who have lost their jobs as a result of manufacturing plant closures, minorities, tribal members, transitioning veterans, ex-offenders and other individuals who may have faced barriers to employment.

Today's Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grantees include:

  • The Fortune Society, Inc., New York City, New York
  • Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc., Portland, Oregon
  • Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Florida State College, Jacksonville, Florida
  • People United for Sustainable Housing, Inc., Buffalo, New York
  • PathStone Corporation, Arecibo, Barceloneta and Manati, Puerto Rico
  • Zender Environmental Health and Research Group, Anchorage, Alaska
  • Great Lakes Community Conservation Corps., Racine, Wisconsin
  • OAI, Inc., Chicago, Illinois
  • Salish Kootenai College, Inc., Flathead Indian Reservation, Montana
  • Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board, Lawrence, Massachusetts
  • St. Louis Community College, St. Louis County, Missouri
  • City of Richmond, Richmond, California
  • Earth Conservancy, Ashley, Pennsylvania

Since 1998, when the EWDJT grant program started, more than 274 grants have been awarded exceeding $57 million. Approximately 16,300 individuals have completed training, and of those, more than 11,900 individuals have been placed in full-time employment earning an average starting wage of over $14 an hour. This equates to a cumulative job placement rate of 73 percent of graduates.

There are an estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites in America. Since the beginning of EPA's Brownfields Program, investments have leveraged more than $22 billion from a variety of public and private sources for cleanup and redevelopment activities. This has resulted in approximately 117,525 jobs nationwide. On average, $16.11 was leveraged for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 8.5 jobs leveraged per $100,000 of EPA brownfields funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements. When brownfields are addressed, nearby property values within a one-mile radius can increase 5-15.2% percent according to an independent study.

For more information on EWDJT grantees, including past EWDJT grantees, please visit:

For more information on EPA's EWDJT program, please visit: