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Institute for Sustainable Communities Launches $4 million U.S.-China Partnership

first_imgInstitute for Sustainable Communities Launches $4 million U.S.-China Partnership Chinese government delegation will visit Vermont on October 20to tour energy-efficient facilities and sign an agreement with ISC.ISC’s program will reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in Guangdong province, China’s ‘Factory to the World.’Montpelier, Vermont, October 20, 2008- Officials from the Guangdong Economic and Trade Commission are in Vermont today to sign an agreement with the Institute for Sustainable Communities, which has launched a $4 million U.S.-China partnership to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the southern province of Guangdong.Leveraging the best resources and expertise from the United States and China, ISC’s Guangdong Environmental Partnership is designed to increase energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve environmental health in the heavily industrial province. The program works at four levels-business, government, communities, and schools-to spark a wave of change in environmental and energy-efficiency practices. It is supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, GE Foundation, Citi Foundation, SABIC Innovative Plastics, Honeywell Corporation, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, through a public-private partnership.”The Guangdong Economic and Trade Commission is pleased to be working with the Institute for Sustainable Communities on this important partnership,” said Bi Zhijian, vice director general of the commission. “Addressing environmental challenges and reducing energy intensity levels are important priorities for the Guangdong government and, while we are making progress in addressing these issues, we welcome international cooperation and assistance.”Often called the factory to the world, Guangdong province is the same geographic size as New England with seven times the population (100 million-about 2.5 times more people than California). The region has more manufacturing jobs than the United States and its factories make a significant contribution to global green house gas emissions, acid rain, and other pollutants. The region, which suffers from frequent energy shortages, has made a significant commitment to improving energy efficiency.”This is precisely the kind of partnership-working across sectors, disciplines and nations to address the critical sustainable development challenges of our time-that I envisioned when I established ISC in 1991,” said Madeleine Kunin, the former governor of Vermont. “We are proud to leverage Vermont’s leadership and energy expertise in the global arena.”The Chinese delegation will spend two days in Vermont meeting with organizations and agencies involved in various energy efficiency programs, including Efficiency Vermont, Burlington Electric, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. The delegation will also visit Canada, New York City, and Miami, Florida.”If the world is going to make any progress in improving resource efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and minimizing climate disruptions,” said George Hamilton, president of the Institute for Sustainable Communities, “nonprofits, agencies, universities, and businesses from the U.S. and China must work together more effectively.” He added, “I look forward to achieving some very exciting results with the Guangdong Economic and Trade Commission and all of our U.S. and Chinese partners.”The delegation is led by Bi Zhijian, vice director general of the Guangdong Economic and Trade Commission (GETC), and includes Xie Shichao, director of the Department of Environment & Resource Conservation at GETC; Huang Xiaoqun, director of Guangdong State Tax Bureau; Zhang Na, vice-section chief, Department of Environment and Resource Conservation; Li Bianzhuo, president, Guangdong Association of Resources Comprehensive Utilization; and Wang Cailian, vice-director, Guangdong Energy Saving & Circular Economy Promotion Center.*Founded in 1991 by former Vermont governor Madeleine M. Kunin, the Institute for Sustainable Communities has managed 70 projects in 18 countries. ISC, which is led by George Hamilton, brings 18 years of experience in helping communities address major challenges. ISC’s China program consists of four mutually reinforcing components:BUSINESS: Environmental Health and Safety Academy. Based at Lingnan University College of Sun Yat-Sen University, the new academy will provide affordable, state-of-the-art training designed to save energy, reduce harmful emissions, and improve worker health and a safety conditions in Guangdong’s manufacturing enterprises. It will expand the pool of qualified EHS managers serving factories in Guangdong province and South China.GOVERNMENT: Environmental Governance. ISC is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to provide technical assistance and training to regional and local environmental authorities on strategies to encourage more effective monitoring and compliance — as they staff up to manage a number of new laws and regulations.COMMUNITIES: Community-Based Energy Efficiency. ISC is working with three demonstration municipal districts and townships to demonstrate how communities can design and implement comprehensive energy efficiency program – with a particular emphasis on public facilities and small factories.SCHOOLS: Education for Sustainable Development. Working in local schools, ISC is developing courses on resource efficiency and environmental health for children ages 9-13-and involving the public, community and business leaders, and education administrators in their hands-on learning. Partners include South China Normal University, Vermont’s Shelburne Farms and LEAF in Japan.###last_img read more

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For local students, USC works to break down barriers

first_imgWhen Nathalye Lopez was in high school, she was fascinated by science.Her school, the James A. Foshay Learning Center, had too many people and too little funding for students to do experiments on their own. Teachers would demonstrate in front of the class, or sometimes just show pictures, but Lopez always wanted to do more.For a large part of each weekday, Lopez studied at Foshay, where some students didn’t have a seat to sit in and many classes would only get through half the agenda because of disruptions and disciplinary actions.But for two hours each morning and four hours each Saturday, Lopez headed to USC to take classes through the Neighborhood Academic Initiative, a program the University offers to help students from the local community receive a more intensive education.“The teachers at Foshay were passionate, but they didn’t have the resources to provide each student with individual attention,” Lopez said. “At USC, we were in an actual laboratory and were doing experiments ourselves.”Lopez is now a junior majoring in human biology and contemporary Latino and Latin American studies at USC, as well as a Gates Millennium Scholar. She’s one of around 60 students to graduate from NAI each year, all of whom come from South Central Los Angeles and spend middle and high school at the Foshay Learning Center.Most are students from low-income families, members of a minority group and the first in their families to go to college — and all are offered the opportunity to attend USC on a 4.5-year scholarship if they graduate from the program and are accepted to the University.As a result, Foshay sent 30 students to USC in 2016 — the most of any high school in the country. Graduates of the program who don’t attend USC go on to other colleges such as the University of California or numerous Ivy League schools, bringing NAI’s college attendance rate to 98 percent.Parents who enroll their kids in the program — such as Ivonne Rodriguez, whose 14-year-old daughter is in NAI — credit the organization for helping their children develop the motivation to pursue a college education.“My daughter came from an environment where she was one of the brightest kids in a class and moved into a program where she was with kids that thought the same way — they all want to work hard, they all want to encourage each other,” Rodriguez said. “Now she has a plan [for college], and she’s only in eighth grade. That changes the narrative for scholars in our community who see themselves as scholars, not just students — and that’s powerful.”NAI has enrolled students each year since 1991, but Rodriguez — who also works as a project specialist for NAI — said that Executive Director Kim Thomas-Barrios has increased standards and changed the conversation in recent years. According to Rodriguez, students are no longer talking about whether they will even go to college, but about which selective college they will attend.“This program transforms people’s lives,” Rodriguez said. “It becomes this equalizer in education … so when [these students] enter their senior year of high school, they are competitive candidates to go to college.”Students typically enter the program in sixth grade through a selective application process and spend seven years taking extra classes at USC on weekday mornings and Saturdays, receiving extra after-school tutoring, attending workshops to develop study habits and participating in enrichment activities such as theater workshops.NAI participants like Jessica Hernandez-Flores, a senior at the Foshay Learning Center who plans to attend USC in the fall, said that these rigorous lessons have helped her expand her academic abilities.“It was different from middle school because they pushed you,” Hernandez-Flores said. “When I entered high school they told me that I had to be more independent, and they pushed me to … do things on my own.”For Lopez, NAI was not just a means to achieve a more rigorous education or develop her interest in science. It was also a practical program that allowed her — and her parents — to understand how to apply to and attend college. As the child of immigrant parents who fled the civil war in Guatemala in the 1990s, Lopez never believed that a college education was possible for her — until she enrolled in NAI, which provided standardized test preparation, workshops on financial aid and special lessons for parents on the college application process.“Whenever the talk came of applying to college, it was something foreign — I had never heard about it and didn’t know anything about it,” Lopez said. “My parents don’t know how to fill out an application, how to use a computer — they can’t even speak English that well. So it was reassuring that there were people [at NAI] to help you for something that seemed out of your reach.”last_img read more

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