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New paid program prepares Denver BIPOC youth for environmental jobs

Green Infrastructure Training Program Graduates
Posted at 3:44 PM, Jul 15, 2022
and last updated 2023-11-07 22:12:16-05

DENVER — On Friday, a new environmental and infrastructure training program for youth of color celebrated its first group of graduates.

The Green Infrastructure Training Program (GRIT) is run by Groundwork Denver, a nonprofit focused on improving the environment.

“It’s been funded by the EPA and the goal of the program is to engage with underserved young adults aged 18 to 24 from the Metro Denver region,” said Gabe Catenacci, GRIT project coordinator for Groundwork Denver. “Over the course of eight to 10 weeks, we've worked with our project partners to provide training on green infrastructure. Green infrastructure can include anything related to public works that helps solve environmental issues. So we're thinking about stormwater management, watershed management, urban park restoration, the control and storage of hazardous waste materials.”

Catenacci says at the end of the program, graduates receive certifications and are introduced to local employers.

“I really wanted to help my community, and I live in Montbello,” GRIT graduate Julieta Torres said. “Planting trees, working in energy, seeing how we can save residents money or what we can fix to our best abilities…that's what I really like, and I hope I can keep working on that in the future.”

Graduate Ollie Atwood told Denver7 they look forward to advancing in the environmental field.

“I'm hoping to get into administration,” Atwood said. “I enjoy being outside and meeting people.”

GRIT is a 3-year pilot program.

Catenacci says there are very few paid training opportunities in the environmental field, but GRIT participants earned $17 an hour.