Nonprofit awarded half-million to train, organize workers for green jobs

Co-op Cincy has been awarded a half-million-dollar federal grant to help historically marginalized communities find good jobs in clean energy and  sustainable construction.

The 18-month, $495,816 grant was part of $16 million awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor to focus on worker training during a transition to a green economy.

The nonprofit said it will form a coalition that includes local businesses, government entities, labor groups, local organizations, and educational institutions as it designs strategies to improve job quality, the availability of good jobs, and worker influence in the climate resiliency sector.

“Our goal is to empower workers and build community wealth as we transition to a more sustainable economy,” says Ellen Vera, co-director of Co-op Cincy.

Co-op Cincy points out that around 25% of Cincinnatians live in poverty, and six of Ohio’s 10 most common jobs pay too little to support a family of three. With the climate crisis, as well as the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, job growth is expected in businesses related to green energy and climate resiliency.

“This is a historic opportunity to build community wealth while responding to the climate crisis,” Vera says. “We have to be very intentional about how we meet this moment.”

Co-op Cincy supports worker-owned businesses through start-up training,  coaching, loan access, and a program to help business owners sell to their workers. Founded in 2011, its network has grown to include 15 worker-owned businesses that employ more than 100 people, of whom 75% are people of color and 66% are women.  

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Read more articles by David Holthaus.

David Holthaus is an award-winning journalist and a Cincinnati native. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading, or watching classic movies.