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January 26, 2010

Powell Center Conference Examines Issues of Inclusion in the Green Economy

Green-Jobs Advocate Jerome Ringo to Outline Roadmap to a Sustainable Future and Economic Well-Being for Every Community

While real job openings in the United States have plummeted 50 percent in two years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the sustainability sector offers one of the few bright spots in the job market.  Nationally, employment in the sector grew by 9.1 percent in the decade ending in 2007, compared with 3.7 percent overall, according to The Pew Charitable Trust.  

A report from the Conference of Mayors projects 3.5 million new green jobs by 2030.  Yet under-represented populations and communities risk being shut out of these gains.

A February 10 conference at The City College of New York (CCNY) will examine the critical issues of education and workforce training needed to leverage the green economy.  The event, presented by the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies and sponsored by the New York Life Endowment for Emerging African-American Issues, will highlight issues of inclusion that minority populations and communities face in tapping the potential of a sustainable future.  

Titled “Our World 2030: Preparing a New Generation for a Sustainable Future,” the conference runs from 4:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. in CCNY’s Great Hall.  It is free and open to the public; however, pre-registration is required.  

The conference will emphasize New York City’s particular challenges and opportunities in transforming the economic and educational outlook through 2030.  That is the year when today’s youngest generation will begin to enter the workforce.

“New York City is ideally poised to take advantage of the forecast employment growth in the sustainability sector,” said Walter Houston, 2009-2010 New York Life Leader-in-Residence at the Colin Powell Center. “However, hurdles stand in the way of full minority participation.”

Mr. Houston noted that New York ranks first among U.S. metro areas in green jobs potential, according to the Conference of Mayors’ report.  In addition, Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC includes 127 initiatives for greening the Big Apple, and venture capitalists have pumped some $200 million into the state's clean-energy economy over the past two years.

The “green-collar ceiling” appears to be among the biggest challenges to greater minority participation in the green job market, Mr. Houston added.  Minority workers often languish in low-skill, low-wage positions, while the green jobs that are forecast to provide much of the new employment require advanced degrees and complex skill sets, according to the New York City Labor Market Information Service.

The conference’s keynote speaker, Jerome Ringo, is one of the nation’s leading advocates for green jobs.  Mr. Ringo is the immediate past president of the Apollo Alliance and a former chairman of the board of the National Wildlife Federation.  In addition, he served as the nation’s only African-American representative to the Kyoto Treaty talks and is a member of Al Gore’s Climate Advisory Panel.  

“Our World 2030” will explore pathways out of poverty through green career opportunities. Rob Carmona, president of Strive, the workforce development organization, noted in Huffington Post recently that the time to prepare folks from all backgrounds for emerging industries is now.  

“As the ‘green jobs’ revolution takes hold, we at Strive see it as a replacement skill set for the union jobs that were essential in the development of the American middle class,” added Carmona, who will participate in a panel discussion at the “Our World 2030” conference. He will be joined by:

  • Tria Case, Executive Director, Center for Sustainable Energy, Bronx Community College, CUNY;
  • Levon Chambers, Laborers’ Local 10;
  • Jaimie Cloud, founder and president, the Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education;
  • Dr. Latif M. Jiji, Director, CCNY Graduate Program, Sustainability in the Urban Environment, and
  • Janna Olson, founder, The Sustainer Project.

Additional conference information, registration, and biographies of the featured speakers can be found at http://www.ccny.cuny.edu/powell.

About the New York Life Foundation
Inspired by New York Life’s tradition of service and humanity, the New York Life Foundation has, since its founding in 1979, provided more than $120 million in charitable contributions to national and local nonprofit organizations. Through its focus on “Nurturing the Children,” the Foundation supports programs that benefit young people, particularly in the areas of mentoring, the establishment of safe places to learn and grow, educational enhancement opportunities, and childhood bereavement.

About the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies

The Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies is a nonpartisan educational, training, and research center named for one of City College’s most distinguished graduates, General Colin L. Powell (USA, ret.), the Center’s founder and chair. Established in 1997, the Center’s mission is to prepare new generations of publicly engaged leaders from populations previously underrepresented in public service and policy circles.  The Center also seeks to build a strong culture of civic engagement at City College and to mobilize campus resources to meet pressing community needs and serve the public good.

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