EPA’s Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) program is aimed at improving the environmental health of communities nationwide while improving the livelihood of the residents who live in those communities. Over the years, successful EWDJT programs have been implemented throughout the country, impacting the lives of many. In his own words, here is how the EPA Brownfields EWDJT program allowed Jonathan Brito to change his career:
Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Success Stories: Richmond, California
Before I started on my journey at the RichmondBUILD Academy, I was a father to a beautiful 3-year-old daughter, and I had just been laid off of my 6-year career as an auto body technician. I ran into many career dead ends and depression set in. I then found myself in the middle of a heavy drug addiction. I lost everything and found myself on the streets living a very hard life. I knew that I had to make things better and heard about a local job training program through the media. This job training program helped local residents, such as myself, start a career in the environmental remediation and construction industry with good living wages.
Jonathan Brito in his Tyvek suit during EPA funded HAZWOPER 40-hour training.
I was very fortunate to become a student at the RichmondBUILD Academy. I must admit it was not easy to get in the Academy and even harder to endure the twelve weeks of intensive training. They pushed me physically and mentally. They helped me regain my self-esteem and confidence. Through the RichmondBUILD program, I learned the skills and knowledge necessary to enter the environmental industry and earned valuable certifications, such as my Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) 40-hour certification, OSHA 10-hour, work zone safety, and first aid/CPR. The Academy also taught me to follow my passion: Solar!
Since my graduation, I’ve worked on the Freethy Industrial Park, a new, two-megawatt, ground-mounted solar project in Richmond and I’m currently employed with Ally Electric doing residential solar installation. I’ve also interviewed with firms that will install solar panels at a new 49-acre, 10.5 MW ground mount solar farm on a former brownfield site in Richmond, California. Most importantly, I have the love of my daughter and family again!
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the City of Richmond, EPA, and the RichmondBUILD Academy. I don’t know where I’d be today without them. I’m forever thankful for the opportunities that have been presented to me. As I look to the future, I would like to become a local contractor and hire people that have been in the same predicament as me. And I will definitely hire them from RichmondBUILD!