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Green Job Training Program To Help People Who Can’t Keep Or Find Work

A new nonprofit based on a successful Mt. Washington venture is slated for expansion in 2016, pledging to hire and train people who have had past trouble finding or keeping work for jobs improving public land.

Headed by Ilyssa Manspeizer, former director of the Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation, the Pittsburgh Conservation Corps will partner case managers and employment contracts to folks hoping to make a change.

“It’s working with people who are at the point in their lives when they want to make the kinds of changes and seize the kind of opportunities that we would be presenting,” she said.

Supported by a two-year grant from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation and GTECH Strategies, Manspeizer's team is expected to include a case manager to help potential employees overcome barriers to consistent employment, such as paying back fines, making court appearances and obtaining a driver’s license.

Manspeizer said once a crew is hired, the organization will help prospects with six-month and one-year contracts with clients city-wide.

“There seems to be a bit of a buzz that there is this need both for professional level stewardship as well as for meeting the workforce needs of people who have often been underrepresented in our workforce,” Manspeizer said.

The organization is modeled after a similar program Manspeizer helmed with the Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation that built 20 miles of trails in Emerald View Park. The group ultimately employed and trained people in six-month incriments while helping them look for permanent work.

Trainees included those who had been incarcerated and returning veterans. The Pittsburgh Conservation Corps would be no different, Manspeizer said.