EPA selects Alaska Forum and Zender Environmental Health and Research Group for $1 million in Brownfield Environmental Job Training Grants
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the selection of the Alaska Forum and Zender Environmental Health and Research Group in Alaska, to receive a total of $1 million in grants for environmental job training programs funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The grants are among 29 new grants awarded nationally through EPA’s Brownfields Job Training Program to recruit, train, and place workers for community revitalization and cleanup projects at brownfield sites.
“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is supercharging EPA’s Brownfields Program, which is transforming blighted sites, protecting public health, and creating economic opportunities in more overburdened communities than ever before,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe. “The investments announced today will not only support the cleanup of some of our nation’s most polluted areas, but they will also equip a new generation of workers to take on the significant environmental challenges that plague overburdened neighborhoods, and jumpstart sustainable, long-term careers in the communities that need these jobs the most.”
“Congratulations to the Alaska Forum and Zender Environmental on being selected for EPA’s Brownfields Job Training grant funding,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller. “EPA is excited to support their efforts to equip the next generation of environmental stewards with in-demand skills for high-paying, long-term jobs that help make their communities safer, cleaner, and healthier places to live and work.”
Alaska Forum will use $500,000 in Brownfields grant funding to train 100 students and place at least that number in environmental jobs. The training program includes 60 hours of instruction in HAZWOPER, Community Emergency Response Team training, fire safety, and training to earn up to five federal certifications. Alaska Forum is focusing this training for students in highly disadvantaged rural and Native Alaska communities. Key training partners include ChemTrack, Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Environmental Management, Inc., Jacobs Knik Tribal Council, Terrasond, and UIC UMIAQ Environmental.
“The Alaska Forum is extremely excited to expand our job training opportunities to include emergency and disaster response skills that may have real impacts in communities in times of emergency need,” said Alaska Forum Executive Director Kurt Eilo. “This is a substantial new effort to help build community capacity to address local emergency response needs. We look forward to working with EPA and our partners including Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to make this happen!”
Zender Environmental Health and Research Group plans to train 68 students in rural Alaskan and Tribal communities, and place at least 56 in environmental jobs. The Rural Alaska Community Environmental Job Training or RACEJT program includes 211 hours of instruction in HAZWOPER, water and soil sampling, Rural Alaska Landfill Operator (RALO), wildfire protection, and spill and emergency response, with up to four state and 12 federal certifications. Key partners include Alakanuk, Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Brice Civil Construction, Copper River Native Association, Delta Backhaul, Kawerak, Kongiganak, Tanana Chiefs Council, and University of Alaska - Fairbanks Bristol Bay Campus.
“RACEJT changes lives. And once they are hired, our graduates are able to apply their new skills and knowledge to identifying and addressing the unique environmental health challenges their communities face,” said Zender Environmental Health and Research Group Executive Director Lynn Zender. “With this funding, we are able to train and place more graduates in more rural Alaska communities. We are so grateful to EPA for believing in this program and even more, in believing in our incredible graduates.”
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will invest more than $1.5 billion over five years through EPA’s highly successful Brownfields Program. The Brownfields Job Training Program also advances EPA’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver at least 40 percent of the benefits of environmental programs to disadvantaged communities. Individuals completing a job training program funded by the EPA often overcome a variety of barriers to employment and many are from historically underserved neighborhoods or reside in areas that are overburdened by pollution.
Graduates of Brownfields Job Training programs typically earn a variety of certifications to learn valuable and sought-after skillsets, ensuring employment opportunities are not just temporary contractual work, but long-term environmental careers. This includes certifications in lead and asbestos abatement, hazardous waste operations and emergency response, environmental sampling and analysis, and environmental health and safety training.
Brownfields Job Training grants allow nonprofits, local governments, and other organizations to recruit, train, and place unemployed and under-employed residents of areas affected by the presence of brownfield sites. Job training program graduates develop the skills needed to secure full-time, sustainable employment in various aspects of hazardous and solid waste management and within the larger environmental field, including sustainable cleanup and reuse, and chemical safety.
Since 1998, the EPA has awarded 371 Brownfields Job Training grants. With these grants, more than 20,341 individuals have completed trainings and over 15,168 individuals have been placed in careers related to land remediation and environmental health and safety.
For more information on Brownfields grants, visit: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-job-training-jt-grants.
Learn more about Zender Environmental Health and Research Group’s Rural Alaska Community Environmental Job Training Program at: http://www.zendergroup.org/racejt.html.
Learn more about the Alaska Forum’s ETAP training program at: http://www.akforum.org/apprenticeship/about-etap/.