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North Star #4

Green Career Pathways in EJ Communities

Young New Yorkers & residents in Environmental Justice communities will have access to green career pathways created by City-led decarbonization and resilience efforts.

What We Heard: Recovering from the pandemic’s economic effects requires job training especially for New Yorkers who have been historically marginalized.

  • Equipping EJ communities to obtain the green jobs needed in their communities: When asked how to ensure that communities disproportionately impacted by environmental burdens benefit from climate investments, adult survey respondents prioritized increasing programs that provide training and certification for green jobs (ranked #3). In Community Conversations, New Yorkers emphasized the importance of good workforce programs in creating opportunities for historically disenfranchised groups to break into future-focused industries and build wealth (workforce development services were mentioned at 37 events). Justice-involved residents also pointed out that “increasing job security will increase public safety” and advocated for providing career pathways in growing fields for formerly incarcerated individuals.  
  • Creating more job pathways for youth: The impact of these inequities on youth development and the view that the City should ensure more programs focused on accessing future-focused careers are provided to young adults was a  resounding theme in Community Conversations. Black adults cited increasing the availability of WFD programs and job opportunities for young adults as a top priority for making their neighborhoods safer (ranked #2 after housing in the NYC Speaks Survey). City staff also encouraged that there be more efforts to give students pathways to city jobs and to ensure that there is a range of vocational training opportunities at every NYCHA complex. 
  • Advancing energy upgrades and repairs in EJ communities:  Both adult and youth New Yorkers prioritized employing residents of public & affordable housing developments to make green energy upgrades & repairs to their buildings as their #1 choice. During conversations with City Staff, they mentioned the importance of funding CBOs to conduct green buildings outreach and tap their community networks and trusted messenger status to increase awareness of the Climate Mobilization Act. 

How the City is Already Taking Action

The City is already mobilizing an unprecedented set of resources and partnerships to promote career pathways in environmental justice communities, including: a $79 million commitment to expand the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) to include 100,000 jobs for city youth, the most in the program’s history; the CUNY Inclusive Economy Initiative, which is a public private partnership with a City investment of $13 million that connects CUNY students to internships and supports with career advisement; a $191 million, 15-year commitment to developing offshore wind technology that will center investments in women, minorities, and EJ communities; a $4 billion commitment to decarbonizing City buildings; efforts to leverage investments to anchor an inclusive property technology (“proptech”) sector; a $54 million commitment to expand the City’s Precision Employment Initiative, which connects New Yorkers at risk of gun violence with career readiness and green job placement programs; and partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to train NYCHA residents for clean energy careers.

Environmental Justice Communities

Environmental Justice is the principle that “all people, regardless of race, disability status, age, or socioeconomic background, have a right to live, work, and play in communities that are safe, healthy, and free of harmful environmental conditions.” The City of New York defines Environmental Justice Areas as low-income or minority communities that are disproportionately vulnerable to potential environmental injustices due to the legacies of systemic racism and historically inequitable resource distribution. In 2021, the City released an interactive map of NYC’s Environmental Justice Areas as part of a legislatively mandated effort  known as Environmental Justice New York City (EJNYC), which represents the City’s first comprehensive study of how environmental inequities affect low-income and minority communities. The Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice (MOCEJ) is also developing NYC’s strategic climate plan for release in spring 2023. This plan will lay out the City’s sustainability, resiliency, and equity goals and will be informed by resident priorities uplifted through the NYC Speaks initiative.

Initial Commitments

  • The Department of Youth and Community (DYCD) will increase its efforts to expose young people to internships and training in growing sectors of the economy that meet City and State targets for renewable energy and carbon emissions reduction.
  • The Mayor’s Office of Talent and Workforce Development and New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) will use the results of its on-going green workforce study to develop new programs and initiatives that address critical gaps in the green workforce development ecosystem in NYC. As part of this effort, the City will continue to engage sectors within the green economy through existing industry advisory groups like EDC’s offshore wind advisory group while also building a more occupations-focused lens to its work in identifying career pathways for New Yorkers into the green economy, with a focus on identifying shared occupations and pathways that cut across sectors. The City will also work with committed industry employers on real estate opportunities, entrepreneurial or innovation resources, and apprenticeship programming. 
  • The NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) will work with partners to develop a plan and launch a series of workforce academies and expand resident hiring for sustainability and resilience investments in NYCHA programs, buildings, and grounds. This initiative will build on NYCHA’s first ever Clean Energy Academy–which begins training residents for clean energy careers in spring of 2023–and will be guided by a newly created Strategic Plan for a Sustainable and Resilient NYCHA Workforce. The strategic plan will draw from engagement with current residents and workers on their career interests and skills gap; a rigorous mapping of NYCHA-led programs and investments that can be leveraged as springboards into green careers, as well as the programs and potential partnerships across the public, private, and non-profit WFD ecosystem; and an assessment of opportunities for structural reform and updates to civil service titles and employment policies.
  • The Mayor’s Office of Talent and Workforce Development will work with the members of the Talent and Workforce Interagency Cabinet and the green economy advisory council to create a shared framework to ensure that upcoming investments in service of Local Law 97 and new allocations of federal funding, including the Inflation Reduction Act, will create green career pathways for residents in EJ communities. This work will be advanced as the City seeks to build greater capacity for and promote reforms of community hiring policies and programs to advance economic mobility for jobseekers and workers in communities that have been historically impacted disproportionately by low wages and unemployment. 


  • Number of NYCHA residents participating in Clean Energy Academies
  • Number of NYCHA residents hired for green careers
  • Number of residents in EJ communities hired to support implementation of the City’s decarbonization and resilience efforts
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