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 Illinois Economic Development Agency Announces Green Training Opportunities in the Metro East

Urban Weatherization Initiative seeks qualified individuals for home weatherization specialist certification program

EAST ST. LOUIS � Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Acting Director David Vaught today announced a partnership with Southwestern Illinois College and Emerson Park Development Corporation to provide weatherization training for qualified applicants through the state�s Urban Weatherization Initiative (UWI). Acting Director Vaught also announced the next phase of UWI which will identify homes in the target communities that will be eligible for weatherization repairs.

UWI is the nation's first state-funded weatherization program and one of the largest job creation initiatives to date for urban communities in Illinois. It is also the first program of its kind to address both the supply and demand side of the equation by training individuals to perform weatherization services on homes within their community.

�The Urban Weatherization Initiative is helping to address two critical issues within our urban communities: the need for high-quality jobs and reduced energy costs in disadvantaged communities,� said Acting Director Vaught. �Residents will now be able to live safely in their homes while helping their neighbors to gain valuable skills and create good-paying, sustainable jobs of the future.�

Representatives from Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) and Emerson Park Development Corporation, two providers in the Metro East, were on hand at today�s event to sign-up individuals for the certification programs. Trainees will receive the skills to become weatherization specialists, including repairing/replacing inefficient heating or cooling units and also water filters, installing pipe and duct insulation and managing air infiltration.

Daron Steenbergen, coordinator of the SWIC Weatherization Specialist Training program, sees this initiative as a means of enabling experienced individuals in construction fields to expand or redirect their knowledge and skills toward practices in line with today�s emphasis on efficiency and conservation. 

�This program exemplifies the college's strong commitment to sustainability which includes charter membership in the Illinois Green Economy Network and development of one of three regional sustainability centers in the state,� said Steenbergen. �Going green isn�t just a phrase. It is our collective future.�

�We are greatly appreciative of the opportunity to add this training to our construction trades program,� said Vicky Forby, executive director of Emerson Park Development Corporation.  �Advanced weatherization training will open additional doors in the construction trades and provide personal employability and entrepreneurship opportunities for young adults in the Metro East.�

The next phase of the UWI program will help homeowners in East St. Louis and other UWI communities get their homes weatherized by specialists trained through the program. A request for proposals will be issued by the end of the month for local community organizations that want to become a coordinating agency for weatherization services. Those organizations will also employ successful participants from the home energy auditor and weatherization specialist trainings.  Work on homes is expected to begin during the 2013 spring construction season.

Nearly $3.4 million in Illinois Jobs Now! capital funding was awarded to 10 organizations statewide to train nearly 700 weatherization specialists across the state as part of the second phase of the Urban Weatherization Initiative (UWI). A complete list of grant recipients is below:


Organization City Amount Awarded

Peoria Citizens Committee for Economic Opportunity

Peoria, IL $311,885
Proviso Leyden Council

Maywood, IL $356,252
Illinois YouthBuild Coalition
Rockford, Chicago, Normal, North Chicago, Waukegan, IL

Southwestern Illinois College

East St. Louis, IL $400,000
Genesis Housing Development Corp 

Chicago, IL $270,000
Black Star Project 

Chicago, IL $384,900
North Lawndale Employment Network

Chicago, IL $325,407
Healthcare Consortium of Illinois

Dolton, IL $350,000
Emerson Park Development Corporation

East St. Louis, IL $350,000
Pembroke-Hopkins Park Construction Outreach Program 

Pembroke Township, IL $250,000

For more information on UWI, visit