03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Pathways Out of Poverty

The current economic situation is difficult for all Americans. But for those living near or below the poverty level, it poses a particularly grave set of challenges. As we move into the economic recovery, therefore, we must remember that everyone--including the most disadvantaged in our communities--deserves a good job.

That is why I am so proud that yesterday my Department announced $150 million in "Pathways Out of Poverty" grants. The funds will assist individuals in meeting the challenges of today, while laying the groundwork for the successes of tomorrow. The grants will help workers across the nation gain the skills required for jobs in high growth and emerging green industries--the kind whose jobs pay family-supporting wages and help the environment. I feel it's an important investment, and I know it will make it possible for those who are living below or near the poverty level to find employment and be part of the 21st century's green economy.

Working collaboratively with non-profit community and faith-based organizations; the public workforce investment system; the education and training community; labor organizations; employers, and industry groups, these grants target training programs and evaluation projects for individuals who are currently unemployed, lack a high school diploma, have a criminal record, or live within areas of high poverty.

This latest batch of grants is part of a larger Recovery Act initiative -- totaling $500 million -- which is intended to fund workforce development projects promoting economic growth by preparing workers for careers in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors. Just as importantly, the whole of these grants is a core component of the Department of Labor's commitment to good jobs for everyone.

We know money alone is not enough, so to help support the recipients of these green grants, we recently launched the Green Jobs Community of Practice (CoP). This on-line community provides a platform for workforce professionals and leading green job experts to share promising practices, serves as a venue for providing technical assistance to grant-funded programs, and provides a central point of communication. I encourage you to take a look and see what resources are availble to help you.

To learn more about the Pathways Out of Poverty grants, our many green jobs initiatives, and our continued efforts to support all working families, visit