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News Releases from Region 02

EPA Selects Fortune Society to Receive $200,000 in Environmental Workforce and Job Training Grants, Helping to Transform Economically Disadvantaged Communities in New York City

10/31/2019
Contact Information: 
Sonia Mohabir (mohabir.sonia@epa.gov)
212-637-3241

West Harlem, N.Y – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of 26 organizations to receive a total of $5.1 million in grants for environmental job training programs across the country. Funded through the agency’s successful Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Program, these grants help to create a skilled workforce in communities where EPA brownfields assessment and cleanup activities are taking place.

EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez announced a $200,000 grant for The Fortune Society Inc. to train formally incarcerated individuals living in New York City who are veterans, unemployed, or underemployed. The Fortune Society was awarded funds by EPA four times in the past, which brings EPA’s investment in this excellent program to a total of $1 million. Mr. Lopez was joined by the Vice President of Agency Operations at The Fortune Society, Sherry Goldstein, on a tour of the Castle Gardens LEED-certified residential building, including its service center and rooftop garden, in West Harlem. The building allows the Fortune Society to greatly expand its existing programs and transitional housing opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals by utilizing the rooftop garden for its urban agriculture and composting training course and offering permanent housing to its clients.

“EPA’s Job Training Program has helped to transform communities that need it the most. By investing in a local workforce to conduct environmental cleanup activities, we can help revitalize traditionally low-income neighborhoods,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Seventy five percent of those trained under our program have gone on to find full time jobs with good wages. I am proud to announce that EPA is building on these successes by providing additional grants to help lift communities out of poverty, employ returning veterans, and build a skilled environmental workforce for the future.”

“EPA is thrilled to continue working with The Fortune Society and its key partners who are giving people the chance to train for jobs that help protect the environment, improve communities and pay well,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “I am pleased that the money announced today, along with previous EPA awards totaling $800,000, will keep the transformative job training program at The Fortune Society going strong.”

Of the programs selected for funding this year, 31% plan to serve residents of communities experiencing persistent poverty and nearly 70% plan to serve veterans. All 26 selected programs plan to serve communities with census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones – an economically-distressed community where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.

Since this program began in 1998, more than 288 grants have been awarded. More than 18,000 individuals have completed training, and of those, more than 13,679 individuals have been placed in full-time employment. 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.

The Fortune Society is a nonprofit social service and advocacy organization, founded in 1967, whose mission is to support successful reentry from incarceration and promote alternatives to incarceration, thus strengthening the fabric of our communities. Last year, The Fortune Society served approximately 7,223 men and women via three primary New York City-area locations: a service center in Long Island City, and both the Fortune Academy and Castle Gardens in West Harlem. This organization provides the only environmental workforce training – including urban agriculture, stormwater management, green infrastructure and underground storage tank awareness – that is specifically targeted to jobseekers who have justice-involvement. The Fortune Society Inc. plans to train 60 students living in New York City and place at least 42 graduates in green remediation jobs. Since the inception of The Fortune Society’s program, 221 students have been enrolled in environmental training and 94% of those students have successfully graduated.

Background 

EPA’s Job Training Program awards competitive grants to nonprofit organizations and other eligible entities to recruit, train, and place unemployed and underemployed individuals. Individuals completing these training programs have often overcome a variety of barriers to employment. Many are from low-income neighborhoods. The training programs also serves minorities, tribal members, transitioning veterans, dislocated workers who have lost their jobs as a result of manufacturing plant closures, and other individuals who may face barriers to employment.

For more information on the job training grantees, including past grantees, please visit:

 https://cfpub.epa.gov/bf_factsheets/index.cfm?grant_type_id=1003&grant_announcement_year=2018

For more information on this, and other types of Brownfields grants, please visit:

 https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding

Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, http://facebook.com/eparegion2.

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