The Greenforce Initiative Links Employers and Community Colleges to Meet Growing Need for Sustainability Skills

$500,000 grant from Bank of America Charitable Foundation supports multi-year effort to help community colleges expand economic opportunity

10-15-2012 // Christine Dorsey
Northland College students with solar panels

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.

About Jobs for the Future

Jobs for the Future aligns education with today's high-demand careers. With its partners, JFF develops policy solutions and new pathways leading from college readiness to career advancement for struggling and low-income populations in America.

www.jff.org

www.twitter.com/JFFTweets on Twitter

About National Wildlife Federation

Since its formation in 1936, National Wildlife Federation has worked with its state affiliates across the country to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future. NWF seeks to engage and educate its 4 million members, partners and supporters with a focus on restoring habitat, confronting climate change and connecting people with nature.

www.campusecology.org.

@CampusEcology and @YouthforClimate on Twitter

Bank of America Corporate Social Responsibility

Bank of America’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a strategic part of doing business globally. Our CSR efforts guide how we operate in a socially, economically, financially and environmentally responsible way across more than 100 markets around the world, to deliver for shareholders, customers, clients and employees. Our goal is to help create economically vibrant regions and communities through lending, investing and giving. By partnering with our stakeholders, we create shared value that empowers individuals and communities to thrive and contributes to the long-term success of our business. We have several core areas of focus for our CSR, including responsible business practices; environmental sustainability; strengthening local communities with a focus on housing, hunger and jobs; investing in global leadership development; and engaging through arts and culture. Reaffirming a commitment to develop and sustain a culture of service, bank employee volunteers contributed more than 1.5 million hours in 2011 to enhance the quality of life in their communities worldwide.

www.bankofamerica.com/opportunity

 @BofA_Community on Twitter

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