Receiving $125,000 in grants from the Claude Worthington Benedum and FirstEnergy foundations last month, Washington & Jefferson College’s Center for Energy Policy & Management (CEPM) will introduce a new Green Building & Design Institute this summer.
Supported by $75,000 in educational program funds from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, and $50,000 in “Investing with Purpose” funds from the FirstEnergy Foundation, the Green Building & Design Institute—an extension of existing training which enables W&J students to earn a LEED credential (a denotation of professional proficiency in design and construction)—will serve as a college and professional readiness program for local high school students, and create equitable pathways in green building and design industries beginning in the summer of 2023.
“We are grateful for our partnership with the Claude Worthington Benedum and FirstEnergy foundations to establish the Green Building & Design Institute at Washington & Jefferson College,” said Washington & Jefferson College President John C. Knapp, Ph.D. “We believe this institute will help diversify our region’s workforce talent, provide an engaging, hands-on summer program, and create equitable pathways to college and energy careers for youth from underrepresented backgrounds.”
“We are committed to providing pathways and educational opportunities from our local high schools to Washington & Jefferson College,” Knapp continued, “especially for students from underrepresented backgrounds, and we look forward to the impact this program will have in our City and region of Western Pennsylvania.”
Unique to Washington & Jefferson College, the institute will pair W&J Presidents with participants to provide a comprehensive, nine-week summer program for local students in grades 10-12, introducing them to green building principles and careers. Additionally, it will address the need for green energy and design, and feature energy-related job shadowing and field trip opportunities.
“With the investment made by these two foundations,” said Dr. Corey Young, director of the Center for Energy Policy & Management, “we will be able…to help build a workforce that is prepared to address some of our nation’s most pressing issues associated with green building and design.”
Dr. Jeff Frick, vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the College, agreed.
“…[S]upport from Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and FirstEnergy Foundation will help us provide educational opportunities to…students who are interested in sustainability, energy, and green building design,” he said.
Paving the way for futures in these fields, the Green Building & Design Institute will also aim to promote local and regional economic development and help southwestern Pennsylvania diversify its economy, growing in strategic areas, like solar power and energy efficiency.
Consonantly, the institute’s promise of a brighter tomorrow spurred foundational support.“At the [Claude Worthington Benedum] Foundation, we understand that providing equitable access to career pathways in high-demand occupations is necessary to meet the workforce demands in growing industries, such as green energy and design,” said Melanie Claxton the senior program officer at the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.”
Washington & Jefferson College’s Green Building & Design Institute strives to strategically address this need by providing programming to enhance the industry-based skills, talents, and abilities of young individuals who are traditionally underrepresented in these fields, thereby introducing students to significant employment and economic development opportunities for the future.”
A future-oriented outlook also fueled funding from the FirstEnergy Foundation.
“We are committed to strengthening our communities through our grant giving program,” said Andrea Bortoluzzi, a consultant for Community Involvement at the FirstEnergy Foundation. “The Green Building & Design Institute at Washington & Jefferson is a prime example of our philanthropic efforts in workforce development. Funding from the FirstEnergy Foundation will open doors for students who might otherwise not have opportunities such as this.”