The weatherization program at Emerson Park Development Corporation (EPDC) trains youth ages 18 and over to earn their Builders Professional Institute (BPI) Certification for weatherization. Since 2010, this program has created jobs and provided opportunities for the underserved and unemployed in East St. Louis.
“The weatherization program is an addition to our Construction Trades Training Program,” says Vickie Forby, executive director of EPDC. “The purpose is to decrease the carbon footprints of homes and provide youth in the community with the knowledge and skills to assist low-income seniors and veterans with sealing their homes, which lowers their energy costs.”
Each year the EPDC weatherization program trains 30 to 50 students to reduce home energy costs by updating air systems, ceilings, attics, walls, lighting, windows, and doors. The training lasts for six weeks and participants receive an entry-level installer certification that is recognized nationally by the building trades industry. At EPDC, this program has a 90-99% completion rate.
“This is an excellent opportunity for people to begin their own business and be competitive,” says Forby. “Weatherization is a new field with vast funding populations.” Illinois created the first state funded weatherization program in the country, and EPDC got involved at the ground level.
The weatherization certification program is funded by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity through the Employment Opportunities Grant Program (EOGP). The goal of EOGP is “to expand the number of individuals in historically underrepresented populations who enter and complete building trades apprenticeship programs and/or obtain employment in the building trades industry. The EOGP offers educational institutions and community based organizations an opportunity to help fill the demand for a skilled workforce by preparing participants for placement in high wage union construction jobs and access to public as well as private construction jobs throughout the State.” (Statement from www.ildceo.net.)