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Your Environment. Your Health.

OAI, Inc.

WTP Cooperative Agreement Awardee

Principal Investigator / Institution

Tipawan Reed
Tel 312-528-3504
Fax 312-528-3501
treed@oaiinc.org
OAI, Inc.
180 N. Wabash Avenue, Suite 750
Chicago, Illinois 60601

Program Contact

Alexander Prentzas
Director (HWWTP)
Tel 312-528-3529
Fax 312-528-3501
aprentzas@oaiinc.org
OAI, Inc.
180 N. Wabash Avenue, Suite 750
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Cleophus Lee
Director (ECWTP)
Tel 312-528-3552
clee@oaiinc.org
OAI, Inc.
180 N. Wabash Avenue, Suite 750
Chicago, Illinois 60601

Program Description

OAI logo

OAI, a Chicago community-based agency, will implement a Hazardous Waste Worker Training Program (HWWTP) and an Environmental Career Worker Training Program (ECWTP).

OAI HWWTP Consortium partners include: OAI as the lead organization, Chicago, Illinois; Emery & Associates, Illinois; Commonwealth of Kentucky Division of Fire Prevention and State Police, Kentucky; Thomas O. Murdock, Ph.D., Minnesota; Metropolitan Energy Center, Kansas/Missouri; Cleanslate – The Cara Program, Illinois; YouthBuild USA member organizations in 12 states; Boat People SOS in five states; Building Materials Reuse Association, Illinois; Mendez Environmental, Louisiana; and small manufacturers in Illinois. OAI ECWTP Consortium partners include: OAI as the lead organization, Chicago, Illinois; City Square, Dallas, Texas; and Metropolitan Energy Center, Kansas City, Missouri.

The HWWTP will target three populations: underfunded rural and volunteer emergency first responders; transitional and temporary workers and high school dropouts; and nonunion workers, including Hispanic hazardous waste handlers. The ECWTP will assist unemployed African-Americans, Hispanics, women, ex-offenders, and veterans who face multiple barriers to employment in Chicago, Illinois; Dallas, Texas; and Kansas City, Kansas/Missouri by training a total of 420 participants, placing 355 (85%) in jobs, and generating 169,440-211,800 instructional contact hours. Both Consortia target the underserved and address public health disparities; prevention; and protection of workers, environmental justice residents, and their communities from exposure to hazardous substances.

HWWTP

The OAI HWWTP Consortium’s approach is based on implementation of successful training strategies that have been developed and refined over the past 19 years.

Deployment of the Train-the-Trainer strategy has the following benefits:

  1. Extending the reach of training through the multiplier effect.
  2. Building local training capacity among Consortium partners.
  3. Achieving training program sustainability.

OAI’s Train-the-Trainer Methodology course integrates innovative components, including behavioral health and resiliency, cultural competency and application of the Social Ecological Model, and the 3Rs (reduction, reuse, and recycling) to reinforce the benefits of using resources efficiently. As demonstrated through successful partnerships in the state of Kentucky and nationwide through YouthBuild USA, developing local training capacity generates cohorts of peer trainers who are culturally competent, familiar with resources in their areas, and capable of customizing training and conveying critical health and safety information to their audience.

ECWTP

The OAI ECWTP Consortium will address underrepresentation of disadvantaged residents in the construction/environmental workforce, promote economic development, address health disparities, and advance environmental justice for residents living in communities overburdened by economic distress and exposure to hazardous environmental conditions. The Consortium excels in establishing long-term partnerships for accessing target populations, and collaborations with municipalities, employers, community groups, trainers, and past graduates.

The OAI ECWTP will pilot and replicate innovative retention and instructional strategies (alumni mentors, blended learning); integrate an economic impact component into the Social Ecological Evaluation Model; and continue to perfect current best practices used to screen, evaluate, and select program participants (try-out, use of social media, alumni activities). The ECWTP will also provide training that responds to local employer hiring needs. Core health and safety courses provide technical certifications required for environmental health and safety-related employment. Core soft skills courses provide job search, life skills, and community-focused environmental justice training. Career-specific training provides focused courses in Environmental/Construction, Commercial Truck Driving with Hazmat Endorsement, Water and Wastewater Operations, and Welding/Electrical/Plumbing.

Project Duration

  • August 1, 2015 - July 31, 2020 (HWWTP, ECWTP)

Grant Numbers

  • U45 ES007850-21 (HWWTP, ECWTP)

Other Participating Organizations