Group Wins $200,000 Brownfields Job Training Grant

Group Wins $200,000 Brownfields Job Training Grant

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it has awarded a $200,000 grant to a nonprofit group to start a Brownfields job training program.

Groundwork Providence will use the grant to train 90 underemployed or unemployed Providence residents as environmental cleanup technicians, who will be qualified for jobs redeveloping abandoned or underused sites in the Providence, R.I. area.

The grant is being provided by EPA's Brownfields Program, which helps redevelop Brownfields sites -- sites that are abandoned or underused because of environmental contamination. The Brownfields Job Training and Development Demonstration Pilot program, which is providing today's grant, is designed to ensure that residents of communities affected by Brownfields also share in the benefits of their restoration and redevelopment.

"This project will provide multiple benefits to the City of Providence," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "It will give people new skills and employment opportunities to work on assessments and cleanups of the city's many Brownfields sites."

According to Sally Turner, assistant director for Groundwork Providence, the job training program ties in with Groundwork Providence's “strong partnerships and proven ability” to bring together community members, business and government to create sustainable improvement to Providence's urban environment.

"It will allow Providence residents affected by Brownfields the opportunity to acquire solid-waged environmental construction jobs while becoming true stakeholders in their own community," Turner said.

Groundwork Providence will work with the City of Providence and the Rhode Island Economic Development. Corporation's Brownfields programs. Other partners include the Community College of Rhode Island, Dorcas Place, Federal Hill House Association, The Urban League of Rhode Island, The New England Consortium, and University of Rhode Island.

The City of Providence has received $790,000 in EPA Brownfields funding for redeveloping abandoned or underused sites, with another $1.6 million in grants to the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

How it Works:

The job training project will train students from Providence neighborhoods as environmental technicians. The project will recruit 45 students for each of two years. They will be recruited from three Enterprise Community neighborhoods for employment at major redevelopment projects along the industrial waterfront, in gateway communities, and for the preservation and reuse of historical industrial properties.

The 252-hour training program will consist of worker health and safety instruction; environmental training and remediation technologies (lead worker, inspector, and supervisor and asbestos worker and supervisor); and innovative remediation technologies (classroom, laboratory, and field experience), including training in the use of innovative assessment and cleanup technologies.

Graduates will be qualified to work for private contractors or government agencies performing environmental assessment or remediation. The project will also provide career placement support for students after the course is completed.

The Providence Department of Planning and Development has committed to placing graduates on its list of first source hires. In a similar program funded by EPA in New Bedford, Mass., of the 39 participants who completed the program, 27 were employed at graduation in the environmental technology field, six were working in an outside field, and one was continuing education.