Portland, Ore. – The Green Workforce Collaborative has been awarded an impactful $2M grant from the Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF) to continue building economic and environmental justice with Portland adults of color. The new funding provides support for the Green Workforce Academy (the Academy) for the next five years. The Green Workforce Collaborative (the Collaborative), which offers the Academy, will direct the new funding to secure future sessions of the Academy and expand the Portland-based program with new staff, a fellowship for graduates, new evaluation tools, and responsive program adaptations. The grant was awarded to Ecotrust, who led the proposal on behalf of the Collaborative.
“The funding from the Portland Clean Energy Fund gives us staying power,” said Teresa Gaddy, Green Workforce Academy program manager. “This is a serious investment in GWA that lets the community, our partners, and potential employers know that we are committed to the work. We’re always thinking of ways to improve, expand and share what we’ve learned in this process. PCEF funding increases our capacity to continue doing good work and serving Black, Native and communities of color in ways they are asking to be supported.”
Green Workforce Academy is a five-week paid training program culturally specific to Black and Native adults who want to gain environmental literacy and connect to jobs, internships or continuing education in the green sector. The Academy, open to all adults of color, is the creation and primary project of the Green Workforce Collaborative, which is a dynamic partnership between Portland-based nonprofits The Blueprint Foundation, Native American Youth and Family Center, Self Enhancement, Inc., Wisdom of the Elders, and Ecotrust. The Collaborative formed in 2018 to address economic and environmental injustice through green jobs training for members of Portland’s Black and Native communities. In 2019, it launched a pilot of the Green Workforce Academy. Despite challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, 54 have graduated from the Academy. Graduates have moved on to secure green sector jobs and internships at Portland Parks & Rec, Forest Park Conservancy, Sustainable NW Wood, Treecology, and many others.
The Collaborative will use the PCEF funding to offer two to three Green Workforce Academy cohorts annually and expand the Academy by:
- Hiring a Green Workforce Academy program coordinator who will be employed by NAYA and deepen outreach into Native community
- Creating a one-year paid fellowship program for GWA graduates to build their skills and professional networks in the green sector.
- Developing an equitable evaluation framework to better understand how well the Academy is meeting the needs of our participants and partners.
- Continuing to evolve GWA curriculum to respond to the needs of participants based on interests, the job market, which reflects current climate change impacts, and research innovative mitigation strategies alongside expanding our understanding of traditional ecological knowledge.
“A dedicated staff person to focus on the Academy is key to strengthening the Collaborative itself,” said Gaddy. “It significantly increases our capacity to focus on building relationships, offering more impactful opportunities for participants, and exploring ways to expand the program. The new program coordinator position will be housed with our partner NAYA with the specific goal to deepen relationships within our local Native community as well as support the day-to-day activities of GWA.”
The Academy is a creation of Black and Indigenous leaders for and in collaboration with Black and Native community members. The program is designed to build community climate resilience by empowering Black and Native adults who want to take action on climate stewardship. At the same time, the Academy is improving community health and well-being by fostering inclusive spaces for Black, Native and other adults of color to connect; building intergenerational wealth among participants’ families through increased employment; and, in the short-term, addressing financial hardships for chronically underemployed Black and Native adults by providing a participation stipend, no-cost meals, and transportation during the program. The Collaborative also works with businesses, organizations, and agencies in the green economy to embed equity, diversity and inclusion in their workplaces. These actions will help create a successful experience for incoming Academy graduates and will support them in becoming the green economy leaders of the future.
About the Green Workforce Collaborative:
The Green Workforce Collaborative is a dynamic partnership aimed at building economic and environmental justice through green jobs training for Portland’s adults of color. The Collaborative’s five members include The Blueprint Foundation, Native American Youth and Family Center, Self Enhancement, Inc., Wisdom of the Elders, and Ecotrust. Since 2018, these organizations have been working specifically with the Portland-area Black and Native communities to address high chronic unemployment rates by increasing access to jobs in the growing green economy through the Green Workforce Academy. Being a Collaborative member is an opportunity for organizations to join, support, and learn from each other as they confront systemic inequities and build economic and environmental justice.