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EPA Awards Three Brownfields Job Training Grants

Release Date: 06/19/2003
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(#03068) Some 200 unemployed or underemployed people in New Jersey and New York will have a chance for better, more fulfilling careers thanks to the $600,000 in brownfields job training grants presented today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The city of Camden and the New Jersey Youth Corps in New Jersey, and Williamsburg Works in Brooklyn, New York, each received a $200,000 check.

"Between New Jersey and New York, we received almost a third of the money given out nationally for brownfields job training," said EPA Regional Administrator, Jane M. Kenny. "This job training program has a terrific track record in our region. Thanks to six programs already in place, more than 200 people have been trained, and over 70% of them are now working in an environmental field. This is a 'win-win' situation for the environment and the quality of life for many people who could not get a break in the past."

Brownfields job training projects provide multiple benefits including providing unemployed and underemployed individuals with an environmental career skill base, creating a local pool of trained technicians - promoting local hiring for environmental services, and supporting overall community development. Grantees work with neighborhood organizations and the private sector to support recruitment, curriculum development and job placement.

The city of Camden will use its grant to train 50 students, hoping for at least a 90% job placement rate. Students will then be tracked for a year following graduation from the program, which will consist of 150 hours of environmental training courses followed by 120 hours of internships. Program partners include the New Jersey Institute of Technology; the New Jersey University of Medicine and Dentistry; and other neighborhood organizations.

The Newark and Phillipsburg Chapters of the New Jersey Youth Corps, a career-exposure program, will partner with local organizations to train 50 students and track them from two to five years following graduation. They hope to have an 80% job placement rate. This is the third EPA brownfields job training grant to be awarded to the Youth Corps, and nearly 100 young adults, ages 18-25, have already graduated from programs sponsored by the Newark, Camden, Phillipsburg and Middlesex County Chapters. The new program will include hazardous materials handling and treatment technologies, with an emphasis on phytoremediation, because feedback from the private sector indicated this was a growing business area.

Williamsburg Works, the workforce development arm of Saint Nicholas Neighborhood Preservation Corporation, plans to train 80 students, and track them for two years following graduation. The program goal is to achieve a 70% job placement rate. Williamsburg Works' program includes 250 hours of environmental training, and will be supplemented by essential computer and life skills training. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to complete a commercial driver's license certification course, increasing their employability.

Since the brownfields job training program began in 1998, EPA has given a total of $10.7 million to fund 56 brownfields job training projects nationwide. More than 1,300 individuals have been trained, with more than 66% now gainfully employed in an environmental field. The average wage of these workers is $12.55 an hour. EPA helps potential grant recipients by providing application assistance, and works closely with grantees to implement their training plans. The Agency also provides additional resources free of charge, including access to numerous training courses and material.