THE BLOG
07/28/2011 05:49 pm ET Updated Sep 27, 2011

A Framework for Preparing Low-Income Youth for Green Jobs and Green Careers

One of the biggest challenges in today's world is figuring out how to connect people to jobs. According to reports at the recently held Clinton Global Initiative America, there are 3 million jobs in the country going unfilled. Despite these vacancies, there are so many people who need jobs and can't find them. While there's probably not a universal solution to this problem, today I am happy to write about what I believe to be at least one positive development for young Americans.

Recent funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has supported an effort that involved numerous stakeholders in a process of figuring out how best to prepare young men and women for success in the world of green jobs. Many of these young people are low-income and disconnected, meaning that they have disengaged from school and are struggling to find a way into the economic mainstream. Some six million strong -- they represent an untapped resource. Nonetheless, even though many of these young people are seeking second chances, they need significant support to succeed.

Based on input from 35 stakeholder organizations and six federal agencies, significant research, and an ever-changing climate in the world of green jobs, The Corps Network and several principal partners -- Center on Wisconsin Strategy, Green For All, and The Academy for Educational Development -- are pleased to release a new publication that has resulted from our efforts titled A Green Career Pathways Framework: Postsecondary and Employment Success for Low-Income, Disconnected Youth.

In short, A Green Career Pathways Framework offers guidance to youth programs and those who work with and support those programs, about accessing industry-recognized credentials and green job opportunities within local communities or regions. With this knowledge in hand, youth programs can engage employers and postsecondary partners to build "On-Ramps" for low-income youth onto pathways into postsecondary education and provide the supports necessary for them to obtain credentials and move into careers with opportunity for advancement.

An On-Ramp Program ideally has ties to local community colleges, employers and other supportive partners. Our research indicates that when these connections are strong, there is a greater likelihood that young people will gain the job skills, educational credentials and the confidence boost they need to persevere in the long-term. Perhaps it's not rocket science, but sometimes making these connections is easier said than done. There are also some tried and true practices that have proven to lead some On Ramps to greater success than others.

I invite you to read A Green Career Pathways Framework to learn more about the framework as well as discover some specific examples where success has been achieved, largely because youth programs, employers and postsecondary educational institutions have formed committed partnerships that are mutually beneficial.

You can also read several success stories from individuals who have reconnected to a positive economic and educational future because of green careers and On-Ramp Programs. They include Yesenia Ramirez of Los Angeles, California, Tyler Rose of Flagstaff, Arizona, Iryn Rowan of New Orleans, Louisiana, Will Waters of San Rafael, California, Jordan Temple of Brooklyn, New York and David Phillips of Charleston, South Carolina. Their stories are perhaps the most effective means for showing why these kinds of efforts matter so much.

There is increasing interest in environmental sustainability and green jobs. Let's start helping young people go beyond a job, and get a career. It's a winner for young people, the economy and the environment.

If you would like to read or download A Green Career Pathways Framework: Postsecondary and Employment Success for Low-Income, Disconnected Youth you can access it for free at The Corps Network's website.