LaGuardia Community College Receives a $240,000 Robin Hood Foundation Grant to Train Disadvantaged New Yorkers for Green Sector Jobs

Long Island City, NY—October 10, 2013—To help those New Yorkers who have been shut out of the labor market, LaGuardia Community College has received a $240,000 grant from the Robin Hood Foundation to train underemployed and unemployed adults for jobs in the booming green jobs sector.

 The Green Jobs Training Program will provide participants with the necessary industry-specific and job readiness skills that will prepare them for environmentally-friendly jobs and will assist them in seeking employment in three green sectors: green cleaning and housekeeping; operations and maintenance; and waste management.

“This program is positioned to contribute effectively to Robin Hood’s mission of alleviating poverty and enhancing opportunities for a large subset of disadvantaged New Yorkers,” said Dr. Gail O. Mellow, president of LaGuardia Community College.   “The training and job placement to be offered through the program will provide marketable skills to people working to lift themselves out of poverty.”

When the program is launched this fall, it will train an estimated 150 individuals over a one-year period. In addition to training in one of the three sectors, the program will help participants to develop job readiness skills, prepare them to apply for green jobs, and connect them with employers who prioritize sustainable practices. The training includes Key Concepts in Sustainability, an introduction to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), and either Customer Service Training or OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) 10-hour Construction as well as an in-depth look at one of the three specified green sectors with classroom and hands-on training. After the training, the participants meet with LaGuardia’s workforce development team to hone their resume and interview skills and start connecting with potential employers.

When the participants complete the program, they will be prepared to enter a burgeoning green labor market.  A report issued in 2010 by the New York State Department of Labor on the state’s green labor market paints a bright picture.  Looking at the “Building Services” industry cluster, which accounts for the three tracks, the report states the cluster comprises 2,250 firms with green employment. Of those firms reviewed, 22% expected that their need for skilled green workers will grow; and 58% required that current and new employees had enhanced green skills.

“This survey suggests that employers’ demand for workers with conceptual and practical foundations in sustainability will grow,” said Natalia Argüello, director of NYDesigns, a department in the Division of Adult and Continuing Education at LaGuardia that administers the program.

Labor/Insight, a labor market information software that aggregates up-to-the-minute employment opportunities and skills required by employers, also indicates a demand for workers trained in the areas covered by the program.  In the last quarter of 2012, there were 3,090 job postings in operations and maintenance in the five boroughs; 494 in recycling, maintenance and biofuels, which represent waste management opportunities; and 380 in the green cleaning field.

For LaGuardia’s Adult and Continuing Education Division, which supervises the grant-funded program and has been a major workforce-training provider since the mid-1980s, this is its latest workforce development initiative targeting low-income residents.  The first phase of the program, which was developed and implemented in partnership with Queens Botanical Garden, ran for two years with highly successful results.  Between its inception in the fall of 2011 and the summer of 2013, it trained 390 people and placed 240 people at 175 companies.

One of the program’s graduates, Rolando Garcia, who completed the waste management class last February, is now working in a maintenance position at Manhattan College in the Bronx, earning $22 an hour.

And Andria Villanueva, who was on public assistance when she enrolled in the program, is now working at the Lower East Side Ecology Center, a community-based recycling program.

“Because of the success of the first phase of the program,” said Ms. Arguello, “we are confident that the Green Jobs Training Program will fulfill its mission of providing our students with marketable skills.”

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LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit to learn more.