June 23, 2009

Green jobs program for young adults gets started with stimulus money

UW-Parkside student Joshua Bradley, second from left, explains rain garden planting techniques to Kara Hamilton while Jesse Perry, Gino Falbo, and Sean Austin work nearby. The Racine students are working this summer in the E3 jobs program.

Two hundred people attended a kickoff this week that will train young adults in "green jobs." The program, started with federal stimulus money, employs 14 to 24-year-olds from low and middle-income families. The program will combine work experience with mentoring and work-skills training to assist youth primarily from low- and middle-income backgrounds, according to a press release from UW-Parkside.

The program's 30 worksites include private sector companies like Kranz, Inc., an industrial packaging and cleaning supply company that wants to install more energy efficient lighting at its DeKoven Ave. location. Other companies include Lavelle Industries, a rubber and plastics manufacturer in Burlington, and Wisconsin Aquaponics.

Nonprofits involvoced include: Habitat Restore, Wheaton Franciscan-All Saints and the Racine/Kenosha Community Action Agency, where youth will conduct home energy audits and weatherization work. Public work sites include UW-Parkside, Gateway, and both the Racine Unified School District and the Burlington Area School District where employees will create and market in-school recycling programs.

The program is called E3, which is short for: "Employing Youth, Engaging Racine, Enriching the Earth."

UW-Parkside is among the 15 community partners involved in the program development. The partners also include Gateway Technical College, the City of Racine, United Way of Racine County, Racine Unified School District, Burlington Area School District, Racine County Cooperative Extension Office, Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Kenosha/Racine Community Action Agency, the Racine County Human Services Department, and the Racine YMCA.

Manpower, Inc., serves as the youths’ employer of record and administers the payroll, while Professional Services Group provides case management services as needed.


  1. Heather in Caledonia6/24/2009 8:46 AM

    I'm all for teaching these kids how to hold a job. Will they actually be learning a skill on these jobs that they could put to use in the Real World? Changing light bulbs is not exactly a marketable skill. Will they teach them how to put in new windows? This is a fine idea if these kids actually learn something they can put to use in a Real Job. Maybe they could be taught to use the large lawnmowers and given the task of mowing some of the grass that the municipalities can't afford to cut? How about maintenance of some of the area parks? How about teaching them how to install solar panels? Maybe subsidize internships with companies that install thermal heating units? Some people have complained that we're taking taxpayer money to train these kids to hold and get a job, but, since their parents won't do it - we have to. Same with schools - we pay teachers to teach some children how to behave because their parents won't do it. We have to or we'll be dealing with them as criminals or paying their welfare payments. I would rather pay to teach them to fish than to pay for their fish for a lifetime.

  2. Over all I like what this might mean for the youth ans area. I know some great groups will be able to use the youth to get critical missions done.
    If it helps the kids know how to go to work every day etc that is good too.
    There will other then some life skills showing up to work doing what they are told etc little taught however those life skills may pay off big

  3. I just met some girls and their 'leader' and were they nice. What a nice thing to do during summer vacation. They were from Menomonee. And they were impressed with the bakery.

  4. We got this great program going in Racine, and with groups like Eat Right Racine and Racine Urban Garden Network fantastic things are going on.
    However can anyone tell me why the City of Racine Department of Development so anti community gardens in the inner- city?
    Is it not better to to teach someone to fish then simply then to give them fish?
    Perhaps its the love affair with low income housing?

  5. A.P Hill you hit it right on the head

  6. We need a growing power type project this year. There are people who are willing to organize, raise funds and do the handy work. I know I saw many of the alderman out at Wingspread for the program. I know Dickert likes positive publicity. Gardens have a lot of support. Just drive down any street and see that. Many people have gardening as a hobby in Racine. We have more than a few organized garden groups. We have more than a few nursery garden type stores. Time for a real project big Willy style.

  7. Right now I am so proud of Racine due to events like the Green Jobs program and Racine Urban Garden Network among others.
    I am shocked but not surprised by what Hill is saying.
    Study after study has shown great benefits to areas brought together by Community Gardens and Farmer's Markets.
    We have I think 500+ homes in foreclosure many empty housing projects now. Do we need more?