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The Greenforce Initiative Links Employers and Community Colleges to Meet Growing Need for Sustainability Skills
Los Angeles, CA (October 15, 2012)—The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and Jobs for the Future (JFF) have launched a new phase of the Greenforce Initiative, a multi-year effort to help community colleges expand economic opportunity as the United States moves toward a more environmentally sustainable economy.
Through a two-year, $500,000 grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, NWF and JFF are building networks of employers and community college leaders to collaborate on helping students develop job-ready skills through better sustainability and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) training, which also helps address the skills gaps that exist in these employment fields.
“Sustainable industries are growing, and community colleges are at the forefront of America’s efforts to meet the demand for a workforce that possesses these new and evolving skills,” said Global Technology and Operations Executive and Bank of America Environmental Council Chair Catherine P. Bessant. “Investing in job training at the community college level is one of the most effective ways we can prepare millions of Americans for high quality jobs that are immediately available—everything from electric vehicle maintenance to consumer solar installations, energy efficiency and beyond.”
According to the University of Wisconsin’s Center on Wisconsin Strategy, global investments in clean energy grew dramatically in 2011, with a record $260 billion invested in the clean energy sector. The U.S. led this surge, investing $55 billion in clean energy, a 33 percent increase over 2010.
“Across the nation, public and private organizations are working together to build a low-carbon, sustainable economy, transforming how we produce and use energy, water and materials,” said Julian Keniry, NWF’s senior director of Campus and Community Leadership. “The success of these efforts will depend upon a workforce that can effectively reduce waste, boost efficiency and shift to clean, renewable energy across all sectors of society. Our community colleges are a primary training ground for workers with this knowledge and skill.”
Employers are seeking workers with sustainability skills that can help businesses more successfully conserve resources, save money, and produce more sustainable products and services for their businesses and customers.
“When we launched the Greenforce Initiative in 2010, we focused on helping community colleges improve training programs by infusing sustainability skills and technologies,” said Gloria Mwase, JFF’s program director for the initiative. “In this phase, we are helping colleges better align their programs with regional demand and expand the engagement of employers to shape these programs in accord with their needs.”
Since its launch in 2010, the Greenforce Initiative has engaged nearly 1,000 community college, workforce, and sustainable development leaders in their regions; awarded $75,000 in grants to help college leaders seed innovation and implement model projects; helped community college faculty and staff develop relationships with their peers and employers; and promoted the role of community colleges in advancing a sustainable economy. This new investment from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation builds on its earlier $1 million commitment that helped launch the initiative.
Learn more about some of the initiative’s work during Advancing Greener Careers and Campuses, a virtual summit taking place on Friday, November 2. Bringing together college faculty, students and administrators, employers, and community leaders from across the nation, this summit will showcase best practices and successful efforts to enhance career pathways and connect campus sustainability to hands-on teaching and learning.
To read local case studies and learn more about the Greenforce Initiative, visit www.greenforceinitiative.org.