The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in a recent press release that the agency has given a $200,000 grant to the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (NJISJ) to teach local residents environmental assessment and cleanup skills that can help them land good jobs. Under the grant, NJISJ will train more than 80 underemployed or unemployed Newark residents. The project has multiple benefits, because the skills students learn can be applied to assessing and cleaning up its estimated 700 acres of brownfields, abandoned and underused properties. Newark projects a growing need for environmental workers as its brownfields cleanups are revamped and plans to redevelop the waterfront get underway.

“This program marries perfectly the need to get people back to work and the need to clean up and put potentially contaminated properties to use throughout Newark,” said George Pavlou, acting regional administrator. “What better way to tackle Newark brownfields than to teach its very own residents the skills needed to transform these community eyesores into useful pieces of land that will benefit the city.”

Under the recent EPA grant, NJISJ plans to train 87 students, place at least 53 graduates in environmental technician jobs, and track students for one year. The training program will consist of four 100-hour training cycles that include coursework in lead abatement, asbestos removal, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and other issues often faced at brownfields sites. Once the training is complete, NJISJ will work with the Workforce Investment Board and Essex County Building Trades Council to place graduates in environmental jobs.

For more information about EPA’s brownfields program, visit http://www.epa.gov/region02/brownfields/. For more information about this job training grant, go to http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/09jtgrants/jt_r02_nj_njinstituteforsocialjustice.pdf.