Climate change disproportionately impacts low-income communities of color, yet young people from these communities have limited access to green career pathways. To address this issue, the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture has partnered with Texas-based nonprofit EcoRise to establish the Building a Green Texas (BGT) project. The BGT project will help high school students in Central and Gulf Coast Texas communities develop knowledge and skills to address community climate issues and gain valuable green skills and credentials. Students will use established scientific evidence and knowledge about location-specific socioeconomic and ecological factors to understand and address environmental hazards facing their communities.
In 2019, EcoRise began the Green Building Education Program with funding from A Glimmer of Hope Foundation’s Growth Grant and the City of Austin Office of Innovation's Equitable Green Jobs Grant. In partnership with local and national design firms, universities, and the U.S. Green Building Council, this pilot project focused on building a robust internship and college exploration program focused on students from historically underrepresented communities, including students of color and girls. The program aims to drive diversity in the field of sustainable design.
EcoRise will continue to partner with UT Austin faculty and staff to refine and scale EcoRise’s existing pilot project into a robust workforce development program. The program will address the increasingly urgent need for an innovative, diverse workforce of people who can collectively design and build a resilient built environment for a more sustainable future. Working with partners in public schools, local governments, universities, community-based organizations, and private industry, EcoRise will create a new pipeline to help young people acquire the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in starting green-building careers and implementing localized solutions to climate change.
UT Austin’s ongoing partnership with EcoRise will generate innovative and critical insights to inform the broad fields of K-12 and informal science education, build the capacity for young people to take on climate change, and improve strategies for making communities more resilient through green building education principles and practice.