A green collar grant

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation just gave a healthy $1.1 million grant to the Philadelphia-based Energy Coordinating Agency, which will use the funds to train under-employed workers in "green collar" jobs. The Mayor's Office of Sustainability is a partner in the effort, and they're getting $100,000 to support the effort.

The Inquirer's Jane Von Bergen wrote about green collar opportunities in yesterday's Inquirer.

The press release is below.


Hundreds of Workers to be Trained Each Year
for Green Jobs with Two New Initiatives

Philadelphia - February 27, 2009 – Hundreds of workers will prepare for skilled positions in the City’s growing green economy, with two new efforts announced today.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has given the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA) a $1.1 million grant to build a green jobs skills training center which will ready hundreds of new workers each year for the 21st century economy. The center, scheduled to open in the fall of this year, will provide under-employed workers with entry-level green-collar job skills and provide workers already in the green economy with advancement opportunities.

A second $125,000 grant from the Knight Foundation will help launch the Sustainable Business Network’s “Green Jobs Corps”, a city-wide green jobs apprenticeship program. To prepare for the Green Jobs Corps, the Sustainable Business Network will meet with employers and labor groups to identify skill sets, employment obstacles and advancement tracks for regional jobs. Once created, the program will be a pipeline for placing workers into existing positions. The Green Economy Task Force – an alliance of 100 businesses, environmental groups, workforce development providers and unions – will advise the Green Job Corps’ development.

The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability is a partner in both efforts and will receive a $100,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to provide critical support, including green job market analyses and developing policies to drive local demand for energy efficiency jobs.

“These programs will equip Philadelphia workers with the skills they need to get well-paying green-collar jobs,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “Through strategic collaborations, investment in best practices and thoughtful implementation, Philadelphia is taking the lead in the green jobs movement.”

Van Jones, founder and president of Green For All and author of the New York Times bestseller, The Green Collar Economy, said of the effort: “It requires the political will of Washington, the leadership of local governments, support from community organizations and businesses, and tapping into our greatest resource: the American worker. Philadelphia is embracing this challenge and is working with the full range of stakeholders to build an inclusive green economy."

With strong green businesses and an influx of state and federal funds to the sector, Philadelphia’s demand for workers skilled in implementing energy efficiency is increasing. Over the next several years, clean energy in the region will require a substantial workforce that simply doesn’t exist – yet.

“These two efforts will open the doors of opportunity for low-wage workers to advance into career ladder jobs, while cementing the region’s leadership in the green economy,” said Matt Bergheiser, program director for the Knight Foundation, a lead investor in workforce development in the region. Since 2007, Knight Foundation has granted $5.3 million to local efforts that prepare lower-skilled workers for careers, support working adults who choose to return to college and connect ex-offenders to employment opportunities.

The 20,000 square-foot John S. and James L. Knight Green Jobs Training Center will provide workers with state of the art energy conservation training and professional certification for key green collar positions. Serving as a hub for the best training providers in the country, the center will work with community colleges, technical schools and employers in the region who need their workers trained in green industry.

The center will house classroom and laboratory space with operable heating and air conditioning equipment, rooftop solar panels and other real-life situations green collar techs encounter in homes and businesses. Graduates will be prepared for a range of jobs, from entry-level weatherization positions to the more advanced building performance analyst and solar tech, said Liz Robinson, the Energy Coordinating Agency’s executive director.

“The John S. and James L. Knight Green Jobs Training Center will be a vital link to green jobs in Philadelphia and the region. These are good-paying jobs with a very bright future,” Robinson said. “The Training Center will help build the skilled workforce that Pennsylvania urgently needs to create a new clean energy economy.”

“Through the generosity of Knight Foundation, the leadership of Mayor Nutter and the vision of hundreds of stakeholders, Philadelphia is poised to take full advantage of the growing green economy—not just making us a leader in urban sustainability, but by lifting Philadelphians out of poverty through training and new jobs,” said Leanne Krueger-Braneky, executive director of the Sustainable Business Network of Philaldelphia.

Pat Eiding, president of Philadelphia’s AFL-CIO, also applauded the new initiatives. “The labor movement talks about good green jobs providing workers a career and not just a job. Organized labor is a natural fit in this coalition because we share common goals: we both care about the environment and want to create training, development and career opportunities that provide good wages with benefits,” Eiding said.


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