Close to half of the $550,000 grant awarded recently to the St. Patrick Center in St. Louis for its Project GO! Green job training initiative will go to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) to train about 60 St. Patrick’s clients in biofuels operations. The group of workers are skilled but displaced workers. The NCERC’s portion of the grant is $237,000. Some $170,000 will go to another St. Patrick’s program—The City Seeds Urban Farm—to be used to train the center’s homeless clients for horticulture-related jobs, and the remaining will go to the Center as facilitator of the programs. The GO! Green program also works in conjunction with Gateway Greening, a St. Louis city initiative to beautify neighborhoods.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors awarded the grant to St. Patrick’s, 800 N. Tucker Blvd., on the near north side of St. Louis, as one of six winners nationally of the Green Jobs Training Initiative Grant funded by the Wal-Mart Foundation. The mayors, including St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, met in Providence, R.I., recently and selected six non-profit organizations to receive the grants, totaling $3.27 million to support and expand training programs for green jobs.
NCERC Director John Caupert said the NCERC will conduct two, four-week training sessions as part of the St. Patrick’s jobs inititative—one in September and one in March 2010—to accommodate some 60 clients from St. Patrick’s. “The first week will be devoted to an overview of the biofuels industry; the second week will cover hands-on training in our pilot plant facility here at the NCERC, which will include training on our high-tech SIEMENS biofuels plant operating system; the third week will involve analysis of how the plant operations equipment applies in biofuels research; and the fourth week will be a comprehensive review with presentations and exams.” Caupert said the training will earn participants a certificate of completion and four CEU’s (continuing education units) from the University.
He also pointed out that, despite the economy, the biofuels industry is hiring personnel. "Abengoa Bioenergy, the company that is building the new ethanol plant in the Granite City area, just hired 35 people, only seven of which had been trained in biofuels operations. Seven of those new hires were our previous interns. The other 28 were then sent here and trained.” (View video clip at left).
“St. Patrick Center deals with a challenging population in St. Louis, one that requires special attention and effort,” said Mayor Slay. “Our panel of judges was impressed with Project GO! Green's innovative approach to reach out to a difficult population in our city, while initiating a green jobs effort.”
“Things are getting even greener at St. Patrick Center!” said Center CEO Dan Buck. “Already, our BEGIN New Venture Center is working with several new green industry small businesses, and now we are proud to be able to offer this new green job training opportunity to our St. Patrick Center clients and GO! Network members."
St. Patrick Center and the city of St. Louis join five other grant winners announced by the U.S. Conference of Mayors: Greencorps Chicago; the Conservation Corps of Long Beach (CA); the Milwaukee Conservation Leadership Corps; the SF Works/City Build Academy in San Francisco; and the Apeiron Institute for Sustainable Living in Providence, R.I. Funds distributed by the Wal-Mart Foundation focus on creating opportunities in education, workforce development, economic opportunity, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness.