In an effort to help Rhode Island job seekers find work and develop healthy, green communities, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today announced a new $200,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields grant to help Groundwork Providence improve its environmental job training program.
EPA awards Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grants within its broader Brownfields program to recruit, train, and place unemployed individuals in jobs that address environmental challenges in their communities. Groundwork Providence will use this grant to train at least 54 students and place at least 45 unemployed graduates in environmental jobs. Graduates of Groundwork Providence programs go on to work as lead poisoning inspectors, lead and asbestos abatement specialists, hazardous waste removers, and general contractors.
"This is a smart investment that will help put Rhode Islanders to work cleaning up our communities to protect our environment and improve public health," said Reed, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees funding for the EPA. "This is targeted funding that gives job seekers the skills they need to find work, helps middle class families, and moves our economy forward."
"This grant is vital to Groundwork Providence's mission of providing innovative environmental training to Rhode Island residents. The skills our students acquire will employ them in creating safer, greener, urban spaces and a capitol city all Rhode Islanders can be proud of," said Gary Cloutier, Executive Director of Groundwork Providence.
Over the last three years Reed has supported Groundwork Providence's efforts to secure $543,000 in federal funds for workforce development and environmental cleanup. In 2009, Reed secured a $143,000 federal appropriation from the Department of Labor for Groundwork Providence to provide basic training in sustainable urban landscaping for at-risk youth and adults. That same year Reed wrote a letter of support that helped Groundwork Providence secure a $200,000 grant from the EPA to train workers and revitalize brownfields throughout Rhode Island.
In 2002, Reed helped pass legislation making this federal funding possible. The Brownfields Program, administered by the EPA, empowers states, communities, and other stakeholders to work together to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfield sites.
Rhode Island is one of 12 states to receive a portion of the $3 million in Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grants. Other states to receive funding include: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Louisiana, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, and Wisconsin.