FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mo! Avery, Got Green
Got Green Campaign Launches to Create Green Pathways out of Poverty
for Young Workers of Color
What: Young Leaders in the Green Movement call on City to create 100 new living-wage, environmentally sustainable internships for young adults of color.
When & Where: Tuesday, March 17, 2015;
Opening rally: 12 p.m. 23rd & James Street near Medgar Evers Pool, Seattle Central District
March: 1 p.m. – 23rd & James to Seattle Central College on 1701 Broadway, Seattle
Ending rally: 1:45 p.m.
Who: Got Green, Young Leaders in the Green Movement committee, leaders and allies
SEATTLE,WA – On the heels of a community-driven win of priority hire, Got Green will launch a new campaign led by young adults of color, to call on elected officials to create 100 new living-wage, “green” internships targeted at young adults of color and young people living in under-resourced neighborhoods in our city.
“We see paid internships leading to living-wage, environmentally sustainable careers as an opportunity for our city to contribute to environmental health and advance employment outlooks for young people,” said Yolanda Matthews, a Got Green young leader. “We are calling on the City of Seattle to create equity for young adults of color in the workforce, and this is a good place to start.”
Claira Le, 20, of Got Green exemplifies the situation that many young workers find themselves in, juggling school and work to support their families while facing lack of opportunities, rising costs of living, soaring tuition rates and student debt.
“When I was 16, I had a green job internship. I worked with the engineer and the architect to make sure that construction sites were meeting environmental standards. My work made me feel great,” said Claira Le of Got Green. “The problem was I had to help support my family financially, and that internship didn’t pay enough, which led me to a job that I could get: a factory job in an unhealthy work environment.”
Over the past year, a dozen young adults of the Young Leaders in the Green Movement grassroots committee made up of young workers of color, ages 17-34, from Seattle and South King County, zeroed in on this issue to figure out what barriers young adults of color faced. They interviewed leaders from the $15 minimum wage campaign, met with Mayor Murray’s staff, learned about current internship opportunities through the City of Seattle’s Office of Personnel, and researched other City-sponsored programs for youth to get hands-on work experience.
“We learned that despite young adults of color having a strong preference for employment in fields that benefit the environment (two-thirds of our survey participants ranked green jobs as a top priority), few pathways exist for us to get living wage, on-the-job training in sustainable fields,” said Matthews.
In 2013, Got Green surveyed 150 young adults of color and those from low-income backgrounds, and 32 percent of participants told us they were out of work, but looking. In follow-up discussions, participants frequently spoke of the intense competition in the job market, and cited “lack of work experience” as the reason most often given when turned down for a job.
“In the spirit of the City of Seattle’s Race & Social Justice Initiative and Mayor Murray’s Equity & Environment Initiative, I’m grateful for their work in building a more inclusive and demographically representative vibrant pool of not only green job candidates, but also of leaders, decision-makers and voters,” said Belinda Chin, environmental learning coordinator at the Seattle Parks and Recreation and member of Environmental Professional of Color Seattle Leadership Committee
Got Green organizes for environmental, racial and economic justice. We are a Southeast Seattle-based grassroots organizing group led by people of color and low-income people, cultivating multi-generational community leaders to make our voices central to the Green Movement. For more information visit www.gotgreenseattle.org