BOSTON – Groundwork Rhode Island Grants Transform Lives and Land Across the Countryd, a Pawtucket-based organization, was one of 17 groups selected today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to share $3.3 million to operate environmental job training programs for local citizens.

“Through these Brownfields job training programs, we’re investing in getting Americans back to work and improving local economies and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Graduates will acquire the skill set necessary to gain full-time employment in the environmental field and help revitalize their communities.”

Funded through EPA’s Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) Program, Groundwork Rhode Island will receive a $200,000 grant to help residents learn the skills needed to secure employment in the environmental field.

“This EPA funding will help our momentum to keep improving the economy and environment in greater Providence,” said Alexandra Dunn, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “The professional training provided with this grant will also literally change lives by teaching in-demand professional skills. Our job training grants help prepare people for green jobs that reduce environmental contamination and provide more sustainable futures for the communities most affected by solid and hazardous waste contamination.”

EPA continues to support the EWDJT program to help put people to work by building a skilled workforce across the country. The program awards competitive grants to nonprofit organizations and other eligible entities to recruit, train and place unemployed and underemployed individuals. Individuals completing the training have often overcome a variety of barriers to employment. Many are from low-income neighborhoods. The training programs also serve dislocated workers who have lost their jobs as a result of manufacturing plant closures, minorities, tribal members, transitioning veterans, ex-offenders and other individuals who may have faced barriers to employment.

“Rhode Islanders are eager for opportunities to enhance their employability and gain new skills that can set them on a meaningful career path. Through our environmental services job training program funded by the EPA since 2002, Groundwork RI works with lower-income people, displaced workers, and people with conviction records who never knew these types of jobs even existed. We find that our students are not only excited to gain this new understanding, but also to contribute to their community by improving the local environment,” said Amelia Rose, Executive Director, Groundwork Rhode Island.

Since 1998, when the EWDJT grant program started, more than 288 grants have been awarded. Over 17,100 individuals have completed training, and of those, more than 12,500 individuals have been placed in full-time employment earning an average starting wage of over $14 an hour. This equates to a cumulative job placement rate of 73 percent of graduates.

EPA also recently announced an additional $1.1 million investment in Brownfield assessments and cleanup efforts in Rhode Island. ARTech Hub, in Woonsocket, will receive a $200,000 Cleanup Grant to remove contaminants at Brenner Bros. Scrap Iron Yard; MSC Realty Inc. will receive a $600,000 Cleanup Grant to remove contaminants from the former Hook-Fast Specialties site; and the City of Providence will receive $300,000 Community-wide Assessment Grant.

A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. There are an estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites in America. When brownfields are addressed, nearby property values within a one-mile radius can increase 5 – 15.2 percent according to an independent study.