EPA Brownfields Job Training Grant Will Help Rhode Island Communities in Greater Providence Area
EPA Workforce Grants Transform Lives and Land Across the Country
PAWTUCKET, R.I. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected Groundwork Rhode Island, based in Pawtucket, R.I. for a $200,000 Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) grant. This is one of 18 grant recipients selected to share $3.3 million to operate environmental job training programs for local citizens across the country.
This grant will be used by Groundwork Rhode Island to train up to 56 people in important skills needed to work in the environmental remediation field and to assist local economic development. The group is targeting the Providence Metropolitan Area, including the cities of Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, and Central Falls. This grant program advances environmental justice by providing an opportunity for residents historically impacted by brownfield sites to gain training and employment as a result of cleanup activities taking place in their communities.
"The professional training provided with this EPA grant will help dozens of Rhode Island trainees to learn high-demand professional skills," said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro. "EPA's job training grants provide funding for recruitment and training to organizations that are working to create a skilled workforce in communities where EPA brownfields assessment and cleanup activities are taking place. This investment will help prepare people for well-paying jobs in fields that reduce environmental contamination and provide more sustainable futures for the communities most affected by solid and hazardous waste contamination."
"We hear a lot of talk about more job training opportunities and the green economy. Well, this federal grant is an answer. It will help Rhode Islanders earn a good paycheck improving the environment and revitalizing our communities. I commend Groundwork Rhode Island for the outstanding work it does, and I am pleased the EPA is directing these federal funds to Rhode Island. This environmental job training program will provide employment opportunities in environmental assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment and ensure Rhode Island has a well-trained workforce ready to fill in-demand jobs," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed.
"Groundwork Rhode Island will use this federal grant to equip young Rhode Islanders with the specialized skills needed to fill available jobs," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "Workers skilled in environmental remediation will continue to be in demand for decades to come as contaminated relics of the state's industrial past are converted to new productive uses."
"Protecting and improving our environment is one of the most important things we can do to create jobs, expand opportunities, and improve the quality of life for every Rhode Islander," said U.S. Representative David Cicilline. "This federal grant to train new, highly-skilled workers will help achieve those goals. I look forward to seeing it put to use."
"I'm thrilled that Groundwork RI has been awarded this federal grant to expand their exemplary green infrastructure training initiatives in the Providence metro area," said RI Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit. "Groundwork RI is changing lives by putting people to work to strengthen our state's resilience to a changing climate and creating green jobs for a better future."
"We are so pleased that our adult job training program will continue to be supported over the next few years with this 2021 environmental job training grant from the U.S. EPA," said Amelia Rose, Executive Director of Groundwork Rhode Island. "Interest in environmentally-focused careers has only increased recently with greater awareness of the impacts of climate change and the Covid-19 public health crisis. Environmental jobs are in the business of protecting people's health and building a more resilient future. Groundwork Rhode Island is thrilled to continue training local residents to meet these challenges."
Groundwork Rhode Island has previously been awarded EPA Brownfields Job Training grants five times between 2002 - 2015, and with this new grant will have received a cumulative total of more than $940,000. With the current grant award, the group plans to train 56 students and place at least 55 percent in environmental jobs. The training program includes 185 hours of instruction, including: 40-hour HAZWOPER; OSHA-10 Construction Site Safety; Confined Space Entry; Lead Renovation, Remodeling, and Painting; Forklift Operator; Introduction to Brownfields and Soil Sampling; Introduction to Indoor Air Quality, Mold, and Vapor Intrusion; Introduction to Wastewater Treatment; Large Green Infrastructure Maintenance; Urban Tree Stewards; Water Testing and Sampling; and Green Roofs and Energy Star Design.
Students who complete the training will earn up to four federal certifications. Key partners include the Providence Housing Authority, Progreso Latino, Providence Stormwater Innovation Center, Green Site Services Group, Inc., the Genesis Center, Children's Friend, the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center, Aerotek, RI Housing, and Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance. The Green Infrastructure training is in response to major flooding events, severe urban water quality impairments, recent enforcement of Clean Water Act protections as well as stormwater management, which has taken center stage as a key environmental concern across Rhode Island.
EPA's Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training program helps put people to work by building a skilled workforce across the country. The program awards competitive grants to cities, 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 or other circumstances.
Since 1998, when the EWDJT grant program started, more than 335 grants have been awarded. Over 18,500 individuals have completed training, and of those, more than 13,700 individuals have been placed in full-time employment earning an average starting wage of over $14 an hour. Rather than filling local jobs with contractors from distant cities, EPA created its environmental job training program to 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.
A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. There are an estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites in America. When brownfields are addressed, nearby property values within a one-mile radius can increase 5 to 15.2 percent according to an independent study.
- More information on EPA's various types of Brownfields grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/environmental-workforce-development-and-job-training-ewdjt-grants
- EPA's work on brownfields in New England: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-and-land-revitalization-connecticut-maine-massachusetts-new-hampshire-rhode