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EPA grant to focus on job training and placement in Lewis and Clark, Granite, Powell, and Deer Lodge counties (Montana)

Release Date: 05/12/2014
Contact Information: Christina Wilson, 303-312-6706; Wendy Thomi, 406-457-5037; Richard Mylott, 303-312-6654

Program to develop needed environmental skills and to meet job opportunities in western Montana communities

(Denver, Colo.—May 12, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is awarding Lewis and Clark County a $200K Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grant to recruit and train residents of Lewis and Clark, Granite, Powell, and Deer Lodge counties in a diverse set of environmental employment skills. The training is designed to help unemployed and underemployed individuals develop marketable job skills by providing free training and certifications.

Lewis and Clark County will work with Helena College at the University of Montana to train more than 40 students with the goal of placing graduates in environmental jobs. The training program includes 255 hours of instruction, including coursework in 40-hour HAZWOPER; lead abatement; lead renovation, repair and painting; asbestos abatement; emergency response; commercial driving license training; and first aid. Participants who complete the training will earn several federal and state certifications.

“EPA’s job training grants are investments in communities,” said Shaun McGrath, EPA’s regional administrator in Denver. “Lewis and Clark County has made strong connections with local partners and employers in building a training program that will help meet a need for environmental skills and certifications. Developing these skills will not only help area residents secure jobs, but will contribute to actions that improve people’s health and the environment.”

Lewis and Clark County is targeting unemployed and underemployed county residents, with a focus on recruiting women, veterans, high school graduates and non-graduates, recent college graduates, and ex-offenders. In addition to Helena College, key partners in the project include the Lewis and Clark County Health Department, the Montana Department of Labor, the Montana Business Assistance Connection, Helena Job Services, Anaconda Job Services, and a number of community-based organizations and environmental employers.

“This is a tried-and-true program,” added McGrath. “More than 70 percent of those trained under these EPA grants secure jobs in related fields. We look forward to seeing similar success here in Montana.”

Lewis and Clark County is among 18 grantees nationwide receiving approximately $3.6 million through EPA’s Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) program. The grants fund training programs in local nonprofit organizations, community colleges, cities, states, tribes, and counties that provide unemployed and under-employed, including veterans, minority, and predominately low income individuals with the comprehensive skills and certifications needed to enter full-time careers in the environmental field. The funding also supports job placement and recruitment activities. These green jobs give hope to individuals to overcome significant barriers to employment and help protect public health and the environment by providing a skilled job force to clean up contamination and build more sustainable futures for local communities.

Graduates of the program develop a comprehensive set of skills to secure full-time, sustainable employment in many areas of the environmental field and average an hourly starting wage of $14.00. This has resulted in an excellent cumulative job placement rate. Program graduates obtain employment within their own communities, areas often historically affected by blight, economic disinvestment, and sites contaminated with solid and hazardous wastes. Rather than filling local environmental jobs with professionals outside of these communities, these grants help provide an opportunity for local residents to secure careers that make a visible impact cleaning up their neighborhoods, creating a locally skilled workforce. Graduates obtain employment in fields such as: recycling, brownfields assessment and cleanup, wastewater treatment, stormwater management, emergency response, oil spill cleanup, solar installation, and Superfund site remediation.

The 18 grantees are:

    Hunters Point Family; San Francisco, CA
    City of Durham, NC
    Memphis Bioworks, TN
    City of Milwaukee, WI
    Los Angeles Conservation Corps, CA
    Cypress Mandela Training Center; Oakland, CA
    St. Nicks Alliance; Brooklyn, NY
    Civic Works; Baltimore, MD
    Community Development Corporation of Tampa, FL
    Limitless Vistas; New Orleans, LA
    City of Camden, AR
    Energy Coordinating Agency; Philadelphia, PA
    Lewis and Clark County, MT
    Alaska Forum, AK
    Northstar Center for Human Development; Hartford, CT
    City of Detroit, MI
    The Workplace, Inc.; Bridgeport, CT
    Mo-Kan Regional Council; St. Joseph, MO

Since the EWDJT program’s inception in 1998, the EPA has funded 239 job training grants totaling more than $50 million. More than 12,800 individuals have completed training, and of those, more than 9,100 have secured employment in the environmental field.

More information on environmental workforce development and job training grants: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/pilot_grants.htm

More information on EPA’s Brownfields program http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/