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Innovative Youth Offshore Wind Training Program Comes to Brownsville

From left to right: Keri Santos, Citizens Corporate Giving Director; Rachel Mattes Greenberg, Citizens SVP, Sustainability; Rebecca O’Connell, Citizens EVP, Valerie White, Sr. Exec. Dir. LISC NY; La’Shawn Muhammad, Executive Director of Central Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation and Marjaneh Issapour, Founder and CEO of National Wind Service Corp. Photo: Mary Alice Miller

By Mary Alice Miller
Brownsville hosted partners in a new green job workforce development program focusing on the offshore wind industry. The first-of-its-kind initiative will provide marginalized Brooklyn youth with training and support to pursue careers in the emerging offshore wind industry.

The Brooklyn Youth Offshore Wind Training Program will enable 72 traditionally underserved Brownsville youth, ages 15-24, to gain certification and hands-on experience that will help them build America’s green energy future and catapult them to well-paying middle-class careers. The program is actively recruiting students and working closely with local schools to spread awareness and identify potential participants.

“We want the local community to have a seat at the table and be the first in the door,” said La’Shawn Muhammad, Executive Director of Central Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation. “Usually, minority communities only get access to new industries after the fact. The goal of this program is to address the opportunity gap and give these young people the experience and training they need so they’re prepared for good-paying jobs in New York City’s burgeoning offshore wind industry.”

“This initiative will allow us to make a transition to a just renewable energy industry,” said Marjaneh Issapour, Founder and CEO of National Wind Service Corp. “Offshore wind, unlike other industries, offers an opportunity to unskilled workers. All they need is a little skill gap program to get up to speed and take advantage of these jobs.”

Funders include Citizens Philanthropic Foundation, Citizens Bank, and LISC New York. Citizens Philanthropic Foundation is contributing $300,000 for each of two years, a total of $600,000 overall.


“We are here to celebrate our commitment to Brooklyn and to those who call Brownsville their home,” said Rebecca O’Connell, Executive Vice President Citizen’s Bank. “It is remarkable to see how different entities – private, public, not-for profit – come together to create meaningful impact.”

“This program reflects Citizens’ continued commitment to drive positive climate impact, build the workforce of the future, and foster the economic vitality of New York neighborhoods,” said Rachel Mattes Greenberg, Head of Sustainability at Citizens.

“We are excited to partner with LISC and CBEDC to launch this one-of-a-kind program to address the clean energy labor needs of tomorrow and ensure that Brownsville youth have access to careers that will lead to greater economic prosperity for the local community.”

CBEDC and NWS will administer the program by developing the curriculum, hiring instructors, and providing counselors and other support services to students. The program will start with a 15-week after-school preparatory program before students advance into an intensive 7-week paid summer internship.


During the summer internship, participants will receive hands-on experience with various offshore wind industry occupations including project management, construction, technician-related jobs, computer numerical control machinists, welders, and wind turbine technicians. The summer program will also include swimming lessons, which are crucial as these wind farms are in the open ocean, and many BIPOC youth do not have access to pools or swimming lessons.

“Environmental and climate justice is a huge passion of mine,” said City Council member Sandy Nurse. “It is so important that our communities – Brownsville, East New York – are at the front of the line to receive the benefits of the clean, green economy that is coming to New York City and that is finally arriving after so many of us have been asking for it.”

Dasia Jenkins, Community Engagement Coordinator at Pitkin Ave BID and youth ambassador said “In the face of the escalating climate crisis, this Youth Offshore Wind Program presents a significant opportunity for the youth here in Brownsville and neighboring communities. It offers a future where historically underserved communities will not just be equipped to address climate change, this program offers a beacon of hope, bridging opportunity and gaps to entrust our youth to lead the way in NYC’s burgeoning offshore wind industry.”

Assemblywoman Stefani Zinerman said the State has laid the foundation for clean energy and environmental jobs by getting the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act signed into law, enacting the Environmental Bond Act, and allocating $2.1 million for young people to go to Medgar Evers College to train every summer in the Adirondacks to make sure we still have clean water.
Zinerman added, “In Bed Stuy we have 9 schools that focus on the environment or wind farms.”

Leading offshore wind, infrastructure, and compliance companies, including Equinor, that is developing the Empire Wind farming project off the coast of Brooklyn, as well as Crowley, Helberg Electrical Supply, JetEx Mechanical, Genesus Construction Training Center, and have committed to working closely with program participants to prepare them for full-time employment pathways within the offshore wind industry.


Upon completion of the training program, participants will be prepared for jobs leading to average salaries between $75,000 – $120,000 in various offshore wind industry careers.

Aaron Siegel Long Island Community Liaison at Vineyard Offshore spoke of one lease area from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Vineyard Wind 1 off the coast of Massachusetts, that is not fully operational but is currently putting power into the grid, with another off the coast of Nassau in the development.

“On the East coast we are putting turbines in the continental shelf. The monopile (the stilt that the turbine stands on) gets pile driven into the ocean floor in a very delicate, environmentally friendly way,” said Siegel. “Off the West coast and further out east there is no continental shelf so floating wind turbines are being developed.”

Ana Fisyk said Equinor has a contract for an offshore wind project with the State of New York. Currently under development is Empire Wind 1, a project that will be located 15-20 miles off the shore of Long Island and based out of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. “Our projects at South Brooklyn Marine Terminal are going to be built with union labor,” said Fisyk. “It is critical for young people to get into the apprenticeship programs to get into unions.” The project will also include a learning center for the public and a museum.


Monica St. Claire, CEO of U.S. Offshore, a specialty marine service provider to offshore wind, renewable energy and telecommunications said her company is partnering with Danish company Kanda to provide virtual reality and digital offshore wind training. “The training is Global Wind Organization (GWO) standard. “If they stay on this path and go for the GWO certification they will be well prepared,” said St . Claire.