Q: In terms of the number of persons receiving job training, is there an ideal or preferred number? Are there any particular incentives for prospective trainees?

There is not a set number of individuals a grantee must train. EPA prefers grantees train as many eligible individuals as possible. This can vary based on geographic location (especially urban vs. rural areas), labor market demand, and availability of jobs in the area. Typically, grantees have cohorts of about 20–25 individuals and train at least three cohorts over the course of their three-year cooperative agreement.

Q: What is a typical schedule for the Professional Learning Community (PLC)?

The PLC meets every other week during an active cycle. All conference call sessions are held on Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. ET. Cycles consist of ten sessions with additional sessions added when needed, especially after EPA releases an EWDJT RFP.

Q: Where can information on ACRES procedures and refreshers be found?

EWDJT grantees are required to update ACRES reports quarterly in addition to submitting regular quarterly reports. For ACRES help and refreshers, an excellent presentation by Kelly Gorini from EPA Headquarters is posted on the Brownfields Toolbox website. Or contact the ACRES Help Desk at acres_help@usepa.onmicrosoft.com or by phone at 703.284.8212; or visit the ACRES website.

Q: Are the presentations and resources from the Annual Environmental Job Development All-Grantee Meetings available after the meeting?

Yes. Session notes, PowerPoint presentations, and other meeting resources are archived and available on the Brownfields Toolbox website.

Q: Are EPA webinars archived and are the presentations still available?

Yes. A complete archive is available along with hundreds of other archived internet seminars for free download and replay at http://www.clu-in.org/live/archive/. You may also go to related links and resources at https://clu-in.org/conf/tio/BFLeveraging1/default.cfm#tabs-4.

Q: How often are grantees required to meet in person for conferences?

A: Once a year at the Annual Environmental Job Development All-Grantee Meeting typically held in August in the Washington, DC area. Additionally, EWDJT grantees are highly-encouraged to attend the national Brownfields Conference which is held every other year.

Q: What software or system is used commonly by EWDJT grantees to track grant performance metrics?

Memphis Bioworks workforce development team uses Salesforce for its database management needs and it has been an excellent tool for them. They use the software for all of their active grants and specifically their EPA grant to input and create candidate profiles and to track them from enrollment to placement. They also use it to compile data for quarterly reports and track candidate activities and status updates. It is user-friendly and can be customized to organization/department needs.

The Northwest Regional WIB has tried Social Solution’s ETO software program for all job funnel programs but found it cumbersome for smaller programs. In their opinion, a good spreadsheet is better for Brownfields.

Q: Is it wise to develop a proposal related to alternative energy?

EPA’s EWDJT program supports only limited training in alternative energy technology such as solar installation and training in the preparation of formerly contaminated sites for renewable energy purposes. The Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA) in Philadelphia has an EWDJT program with a focus on alternative energy and was a guest speaker on a PLC session. For more information on ECA’s program, please see the PLC post-session notes for that session.

Q: What value can setting up an advisory board bring to an EWDJT program?

Two of the most important activities undertaken by successful grantees are the development of strong partnerships and the establishment of active (not token) and participatory advisory boards. Working advisory boards provide the following contributions to EWDJT programs:

  • Direction regarding job skills in demand (labor market assessment)
  • Curriculum guidance
  • Potential employer leads
  • Advice on leveraging opportunities
  • Mentoring for program participants
  • Experience and expertise in environmental remediation
  • Assistance in marketing and awareness (networking support)
  • Linkage to target communities
  • …and the list goes on…

It is important to choose motivated advisory board members with a variety of experience and skills.

Q: How do you conduct a labor market assessment as it relates to environmental workforce and the EWDJT program?

Labor market assessments are much more than researching local labor market statistics. They form the basis for recruitment, curriculum, placement, and stakeholder involvement. The March issue of CONNECT News specifically addresses labor market assessments.

Q: How do you incorporate potential employers into the grant?

The idea is to engage potential employers as much as possible in the EWDJT program. Ask them to be mentors, adjunct instructors, guest lecturers, and participate in employer events. Also include equipment and facility contributors. It is in the employer’s best interest to support a resource for screened, certified employees.

Q: In which EPA region am I located? Who do I contact in my region to get more information on EPA’s Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) grants?

You can find your region and contact below:

  • Region 1: Boston (serving CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, and VT)
    Danny Rodriguez, rodriguez.danny@epa.gov, (617)918.1060
    Myra Schwartz, schwartz.myra@epa.gov, (617)918.1696

  • Region 2: New York City (serving NJ, NY, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands)
    Schenine Mitchell, mitchell.schenine@epa.gov, (212)637.3283

  • Region 3: Atlanta (serving AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, and TN)
    Gianna Rosati, rosati.gianna@epa.gov, (215) 814-3406

  • Region 4: Philadelphia (serving DE, DC, MD, PA, VA, and WV)
    Wanda Jennings, jennings.wanda@epa.gov, (404)562.8682

  • Region 5: Chicago (serving IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, and WI)
    Linda Morgan, morgan.linda@epa.gov, 312.886.4747
    Craig Mankowski, mankowski.craig@epa.gov, (312) 886-9493

  • Region 6: Dallas (serving AR, LA, NM, OK, and TX)
    Rita Ware, ware.rita@epa.gov, (214)665.6409

  • Region 7: Kansas City (serving IA, KS, MO, and NE)
    Alma Moreno Lahm, moreno-lahm.alma@epa.gov, (913)551.7380

  • Region 8: Denver (serving CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, and WY)
    Christina Wilson, wilson.christina@epa.gov, (303)312.6706

  • Region 9: San Francisco (serving AZ, CA, HI, NV, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the
    Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marshall
    Islands, and Republic of Palau)

    Nova Blazej, blazej.nova@epa.gov, (415) 972-3846
    Noemi Emeric-Ford, emeric-ford.noemi@epa.gov, (213)244.1821

  • Region 10: Seattle (serving AK, ID, OR, WA and 271 native tribes)
    Susan Morales, morales.susan@epa.gov, 206.553.7299

Q: When potential partners of a new EWDJT program are a tribe, community college, training consultant, and possibly other local nonprofit organizations, which organization would be best suited as the principal grantee?

Per the EWDJT RFP, eligible entities include tribes, nonprofit and governmental organizations, community colleges, and universities. Each eligible organization has advantages and potential issues to consider. Below are a few considerations associated with each organization.

Tribes—A Native American organization would be an excellent choice, as few are active EWDJT grantees. Some issues to consider when selecting a Tribe as principal grantee may be:

  • Tribes may not have experience writing and submitting federal grant proposals.
  • Often, Tribes do not have the administrative and accounting depth need to meet EPA audit standards.
  • Tribes, like other rural communities, have difficulties with recruitment and placement activities and may have limited training experience. It helps if they link with strong partners who provide those services.

Colleges and universities—Educational institutions are excellent principal grantees as they usually have experience submitting grants, and often have development staff and accounting/audit experience.

Governmental organizations—The mayor’s office or a workforce board are also excellent grantees. Like colleges, they usually have experience submitting and executing federal grants, and have administrative staff and accounting/audit experience.

Community and established nonprofit organizations—In searching for a nonprofit organization as the principal grantee, it is important that they have experience in grant submission, accounting, and a good track record. Some of EPA’s strongest grantees are established nonprofit organizations already providing training in other areas.

The key to choosing the best principal grantee partner is to find the organization with the depth, reputation, financial strength, and experience working with federal workforce grants. Ideally, the chosen organization will have the capability of continuing the EWDJT program (once established) without federal assistance.

Q: During the actual grant writing process that is expected from the EPA, are large cohorts looked at as better than small cohorts?

EPA takes into account that population size and geographic location play a large part in the availability of eligible and interested students. Large cohorts are not necessarily seen as better than small; grantees should use grant funds to benefit as many individuals as possible.

Q: When is an EWDJT grantee eligible to reapply for an EWDJT grant?

Grantees who received EWDJT funding the year prior may not apply the following year under any circumstance, even if the applicant proposes to serve a different city or target area. Additionally, applicants cannot submit multiple proposals. While EPA will consider proposals that serve large areas especially in rural areas that may include a number of towns, applicants cannot propose to serve multiple metropolitan areas or target areas. Proposals not funded are encouraged to reapply.

Q: Does EPA have any tools available to help locate nearby waste sites, cleanup activities, and Brownfields?

Cleanups in My Community (CIMC) allows users to map hazardous waste cleanup locations and grant areas, and to drill down for details about those cleanups. It also provides information on grants and additional related information.

Another excellent EPA tool for identifying sites and local demographic data is their Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool (EJSCREEN). EJSCREEN can provide high definition demographic and geographic data as part of the community assessment process.

Q: Are the EWDJT RFPs similar from year-to-year?

A: Yes. EPA usually only makes minor changes from year-to-year. It is recommended that prospective applicants review the previous year’s RFP during planning stages while waiting for the new one to be issued.

Q: What time of the year are EWDJT RFPs usually issued? What is the funding level and duration of the grant? Why are they called a cooperative agreements?

EWDJT RFPs are usually issued in November–January. The cooperative agreements have a maximum funding level of $200,000 to be spent over a three-year period. In simple terms, EWDJT cooperative agreements are grants where EPA has a role in program planning and operation. Traditional grants are awarded with little control over the execution of the project. Also note that indirect costs are not allowed with EPA cooperative agreements making leveraged partnerships essential.

Q: Where are EWDJT RFPs for previous years located?

Past EWDJT RFPs are available on EPA’s website. Proposals are usually due about three months after they are issued.

Q: How can someone find out what was wrong on a grant application that was not funded?

With all the hard work it takes to prepare an EWDJT proposal, both funded and unfunded grantees deserve a conference. Meet with the EPA regional coordinator as soon as possible to review the reader notes and comments, obtain the ranking in relation to other proposals, and request suggestions for improvement. Post-award conferences can be a constructive step in getting to know the regional coordinator. This applies for funded programs as well as unfunded programs.

What are the major components of a successful Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) program?