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Mayors of KCK and KCMO Announce Job Training Initiatives With EPA

EPA’s job training grants help build skilled workforce

10/28/2019
Contact Information: 
Ashley Murdie (murdie.ashley@epa.gov)
913-551-7785

Environmental News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

EPA seal(Lenexa, Kan., Oct. 28, 2019) - Today, the mayors of Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, announced new job training initiatives in both cities with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA is awarding a total of nearly $400,000 in job training grants to El Centro Inc. of Kansas City, Kansas, and the Full Employment Council Inc. of Kansas City, Missouri. The initiative will recruit, train and place local unemployed and under-employed individuals in full-time, sustainable environmental jobs in the Kansas City area, including vital land revitalization work.

El Centro’s grant of $195,000 will support communities in Wyandotte County, Kansas, while the Full Employment Council’s grant of $200,000 supports communities in Jackson County, Missouri.

Funded through the Agency’s successful Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Program (EWDJT), these grants help to create a skilled workforce in communities where EPA brownfields assessment and cleanup activities are taking place. El Centro and the Full Employment Council are two of 26 organizations selected nationwide to receive a total of $5.1 million in grants for environmental job training programs.

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 – economically-distressed communities where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.

“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.”

Combined funding for both Kansas City organizations will support the enrollment of 132 trainees in their programs, with a goal of placing at least 115 graduates into the local job market in specialized environmental positions, where they can contribute to cleanup efforts throughout the Kansas City area.

Participants will receive certification in a range of environmental fields to include hazardous waste operations and emergency response; lead renovation, repair and painting; lead and asbestos abatement; and shipping, handling and storage of hazardous substances.

“It’s a pleasure to announce El Centro and the Full Employment Council as our two Kansas City recipients of EPA’s Brownfields Job Training Grants,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “Through this job training program, both organizations will continue to open pathways for under-employed and unemployed workers to pursue well-paying jobs in the environmental field that, in return, help reclaim and revitalize brownfield sites throughout the community.”

“Not only will this Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Program help stimulate our local economy, but it will also help place unemployed Kansas Citians in meaningful jobs that center around one of the most pressing issues we face – creating a sustainable environment,” said Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas. “I appreciate the EPA providing these resources to our region, and I look forward to working with the Full Employment Council Inc. and local leaders as we continue building our workforce.”

“We are thrilled that the on-the-ground partnership efforts jumpstarted through the efforts of Mayor Lucas and Mayor Alvey have helped facilitate “people first” workforce system efforts announced today,” said President and CEO of Full Employment Council Inc. Clyde McQueen. “I am especially appreciative of the EPA’s nontraditional approach to workforce programming that enables residents who live in or close to Brownfield areas to be trained and employed to reclaim them for present and future families and careers to come!”

“This grant will assist in providing needed tools, including job coaching, soft skills, and employment training, to the citizens of Wyandotte County,” said El Centro Inc. CEO Irene Caudillo. “We are truly excited about the ability to expand the program with this commitment to building assets and creating opportunity.”

Since the EWDJT program began in 1998, over 288 grants have been awarded. More than 18,000 individuals have completed training, and of those, over 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.

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 program 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.

Learn more about the job training grantees, including past grantees. Learn more about this and other types of Brownfields grants.

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