U.S. Department of Labor Funding Will Support Two-Year Climate Justice Fellowships for Priority Populations

July 1, 2024

Governor Kathy Hochul and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez today announced $3 million in U.S. Department of Labor funding is now available through a new pilot program, the Climate Justice Fellowship Plus Program (CJF Plus), in the Bronx and Queens. The federally funded CJF Plus will help build workforce capacity to enhance climate justice in these communities and supports the State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) goal to ensure at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

“Creating pathways for New Yorkers to join in our clean energy transition is part of our holistic effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the health and safety of our communities,” Governor Hochul said. “This funding will allow individuals in the Bronx and Queens to pursue careers in climate justice while earning competitive wages and getting the professional support they need to thrive in our green economy.”

CJF Plus is supported by the U.S. Department of Labor and 100 percent of the program will be financed with federal funds. Through this three-year competitive pilot program, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), funding will be made available for non-profit organizations serving, or located in, the Bronx and Queens to enhance climate justice in their respective communities. Specifically, these organizations can apply to receive nearly $80,000 in wage subsidies to hire fellows for a two-year period to implement climate justice-related work and activities. Interested non-profit organizations in the Bronx and Queens must apply by 3:00 p.m. EST on February 12, 2025. Please visit here Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “As we transition to a clean energy economy, we remain focused on ensuring our efforts are equitable and benefit historically underserved communities. These specific fellowships will offer individuals from boroughs that have been significantly impacted by pollution and the negative effects of climate change the opportunity to find meaningful solutions to effectuate climate justice in their own neighborhoods.”

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, “There will be no green transition unless we create an economic transition that works for everyone, which is why I was proud to work with NYSERDA to secure congressional funding for New York’s first-ever Climate Justice Fellowship. This program will ensure that New Yorkers from the most marginalized communities in the Bronx, Queens, and beyond will go on to become profoundly influential leaders in our city, in our state, and around the country. They will help us confront the climate crisis while proving that we can build a clean energy future that works for our community.”

Awarded non-profit organizations will offer fellowships to residents from priority populations in the Bronx and Queens. Priority populations include persons with disabilities, single parents, previously incarcerated individuals, veterans, and dislocated fossil fuel workers, among others. Once hired, fellows will also receive professional development and supportive services, like transportation and childcare, up to $8,000, which will be administered by BronxWorks, a local social service organization. Selected fellows will assist with community engagement activities (e.g., planning, policy development, or project implementation), support clean energy project development and implementation, facilitate or build upon partnerships, or engage in other projects related to advancing climate justice and clean energy priorities in the Bronx and Queens.

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, “The clean energy sector is not only important for the future of the environment, but also the future of our workforce. By establishing New York as a global leader in the green energy economy, we are attracting significant investment and creating numerous job opportunities that benefit communities statewide. Governor Hochul's support of the Climate Justice Fellowship Plus Program further emphasizes our dedication to ensuring these new investments are distributed equitably, fostering inclusive growth and prosperity for all communities.”

BronxWorks Chief Executive Officer Eileen Torres said, “BronxWorks is thrilled to collaborate with NYSERDA on the Climate Justice Fellowship Plus Program by providing case management services to fellows. Through this partnership, we will address socioeconomic barriers that could be an obstacle to participation. We are proud to contribute to an initiative that promotes climate justice and sustainability while supporting our community’s growth and resilience.”

Today’s announcement builds on Governor Hochul’s previous commitment of $6 million to support Climate Justice Fellowship opportunities for individuals across the state residing in historically disadvantaged communities or from priority populations. To date, 55 fellowships have been supported through this program. Additional details about the Climate Justice Fellowship Program and how to apply can be found here.

These efforts are part of more than $180 million that NYSERDA has dedicated for workforce development and training initiatives which prioritize hiring from priority populations. This portfolio of talent pipeline programs includes Energy Efficiency and Clean Technology Training, Offshore Wind Training Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., and On-the-Job Training supporting the ramp-up of clean energy businesses and hiring of skilled talent.

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan

New York State's climate agenda calls for an orderly and just transition that creates family-sustaining jobs, continues to foster a green economy across all sectors and ensures that at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities. Guided by some of the nation’s most aggressive climate and clean energy initiatives, New York is advancing a suite of efforts – including the New York Cap-and-Invest program (NYCI) and other complementary policies – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 85 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels. New York is also on a path to achieving a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and economy-wide carbon neutrality by mid-century. A cornerstone of this transition is New York's unprecedented clean energy investments, including more than $28 billion in 61 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce building emissions, $3.3 billion to scale up solar, nearly $3 billion for clean transportation initiatives and 130 certified Climate Smart Communities, nearly 500 Clean Energy Communities, and the state’s largest community air monitoring initiative in 10 disadvantaged communities across the state to help target air pollution and combat climate change.