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News Releases from Region 02

EPA Selects PathStone Corporation to Receive $200,000 in Environmental Workforce and Job Training Grants

Grant will help Transform Economically Disadvantaged Communities in Puerto Rico

10/30/2019
Contact Information: 
Brenda Reyes (reyes.brenda@epa.gov)
787-977-5869

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - 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 PathStone Corporation targeting the rural communities of the municipalities of Camuy, Hatillo, Quebradillas, Arecibo, Barceloneta and Manatí in Puerto Rico. PathStone was awarded funds by EPA in 2015 and 2017, which brings EPA’s investment in the organization’s environmental training programs to a total of $600,000.

“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 pleased to work with PathStone once again to help residents in environmental justice communities obtain local jobs created by the assessment, cleanup, and management of solid and hazardous waste sites and facilities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “We hope the job training graduates will have opportunities to use their new skills to revitalize properties in their own neighborhoods.”

Director of EPA’s Caribbean Environmental Protection Division Carmen Guerrero Pérez was joined by the Vice President of Direct Services Jeffrey Lewis, Senior Director of PathStone Programs Luayda Ortíz, Director of Quality Control Brenda Soto, and Regional Administrator Mileydi Soto at the EPA Region 2 Caribbean Office to discuss PathStone’s environmental training program, upcoming projects and community impacts.

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 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.

PathStone Corporation is celebrating its 50th anniversary as an organization building family and individual self-sufficiency by strengthening farmworker, rural and urban communities through its social justice programs and advocacy. PathStone’s goal with the Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grant is to foster local economic growth and leverage jobs in rural municipalities within Puerto Rico while promoting the reuse of remediated properties to improve quality of life for all community residents. Therefore, the organization’s training program will include instruction in hazardous waste operations and emergency response, automated external defibrillator and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, forklift driver, Occupational Safety Health Administration, asbestos and lead abatement. PathStone aims to instruct 60 students and place at least 41 graduates in full-time environmental jobs.

Upcoming Brownfields Grant Trainings

As part of the event, EPA Region 2 invited municipalities, local government agencies, and nonprofit organizations who are interested in learning about the benefits of the Brownfields program and/or are considering applying for an EPA Brownfields Assessment Cleanup and Revolving Loan Fund Grant to take advantage of the upcoming Brownfields Application Guidelines Workshop (Helping Applicants Understand Grant Requirements).  Trainings will be held at UPR Mayaguez on November 14 and at EPA’s offices in Guaynabo on November 15 from 10 a.m. to Noon. To register or for more information about these workshop trainings, please contact Yocasta De Jesús at 212-637-4340 or dejesus.yocasta@epa.gov.

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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