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Austin aims to increase Green Jobs via Grants

The City of Austin has launched a community grant program to promote climate justice and equitable access to green jobs.

The grants, which will range between $10,000 and $50,000 each, will allow area organizations to research and design ways to close the gap for communities of color on workforce development approaches specifically for the green jobs sector, while also stimulating partnerships between trusted community-based organizations, potential green job employers, and training/education institutions.

Green jobs are those which result in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

Austin’s most vulnerable and underserved communities are disproportionately affected by climate change hazards due to historic underinvestment, limited resources, growth pressures, health inequities, and low paying jobs. Yet opportunities can be made out of constraints. Brookings Institution researchers found that mean hourly wages in green energy sector jobs are anywhere from 8 to 19 percent higher than the national average wage. And for entry-level jobs in this same sector, they find a $5 to $10 per hour pay premium compared to other entry-level jobs.

The new grant program is a joint project from the City of Austin’s Innovation Office, Equity Office, Sustainability Office, and Economic Development Department.

“With this new initiative, Austin has an opportunity to explore its own ‘green new deal’ to ensure that the benefits of combating climate change are shared equitably with those who need it most,” said Lucia Athens, the City’s Chief Sustainability Officer.

The grants will focus on youth and adults of color in areas of Austin where 20% or more of the population makes 200% or less of the federal poverty level, which indicates a heightened vulnerability to displacement. This program aims to increase household financial resilience and community-wide climate resilience, and take another step towards racial equity – the condition when race no longer predicts a person’s quality of life outcomes in our community.

Interested organizations are encouraged to partner on their application to foster collaboration in Austin’s green job sectors.

Grant details can be found at this website: http://projects.austintexas.io/projects/equitable-green-jobs/about/overview/.

Grant applications are due before 5pm on September 4, 2019. The application can be found at this website: https://airtable.com/shrCIw4MYPiOezJ7j