History of the Program

Patrick A. Barnes first envisioned LVI in 1997 after years of performing environmental engineering services to poor communities as an EPA Technical Assistant Grant (TAG) advisor and after working for the Bank of America on several Brownfields redevelopment projects. Through his experience, he knew that work in both environmental assessment and facility-auditing areas rely heavily on the use of checklist and visual cues; knowledge which is easily transferable. It was his belief that disadvantaged young adults could take well to this type of training because of the real world, hands-on nature of the field. The majority of sites, which will require extensive assessment, include fuel stations, auto repair shops, junkyards, paint shops, and other commercial and industrial establishments. These facilities predominate in inner-city areas and are often the source of dead end employment.

After Hurricane Katrina, BFA secured a debris removal contract in New Orleans. While working towards the recovery, Mr. Barnes knew that it was time to bring his plan for a non-profit, workforce training organization to fruition, and so created Limitless Vistas, Inc. In 2006, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded one of two Louisiana based Brownfields Job Training Grants to LVI, giving 15 participants the opportunity to receive technical classroom training on both active and inactive EPA sites throughout out the City of New Orleans. Successful completion of the Brownfields training program is a requirement to work on designated EPA sites.

In January 2007, the first students enrolled in the program of which ten students successfully completed the course work. These students all received the following certifications during their training 30-hour OSHA construction, 40-hour hazardous waste operator, 24- hour microbial remediation, and 32- hour asbestos abatement inspection. Of the ten graduates, six secured jobs with environmental companies, two work in the home improvement industry, and one obtained a job as a laborer in the New Orleans area. One decided to enroll in a local technical college. All jobs pay wages between $12 and $17 an hour. In the Summer of 2007, LVI trained 15 students in an abbreviated session that focused on: Ethics in the Work Place, Field sampling, OSHA Construction/Hazardous Waste Operations, and Phase I and II Assessments.

In 2008, The Conservation Corps of Greater New Oreans (CCGNO) awarded LVI it's second major grant. CCGNO is the local branch of The Corps Network (a national coalition of Service and Conservation Corps) and has partnered with the Greater New Orleans Workforce Investment Boards and JOB1 to establish a new multi-site Youth Corp focusing on "green" job training while building community capacity to re-engage disconnected youth. LVI is now part of a local coalition of like-minded organizations including: The Alliance for Affordable EnergyThe Old City Building CenterThe Arc of Greater New OrleansCity of HopeThe Recovery School District and The Tri-Parish Restoration Corps. The CCGNO grant provides the operational support for four quarterly cycles of 30 participants and provides each graduate with an Americorps Education Award of $1250.

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