Bloomberg Philanthropies announced today a three million dollar donation for organizations providing career training to coal workers affected by job losses throughout an industry in decline. The funds will be used by the Just Transition Fund, and two other groups to support job training programs, foster economic development and offer new career opportunities in communities affected by the trend toward cleaner energy.

Coal continues to lose U.S. market share to cheaper and cleaner sources of energy, which have broadly benefitted the country in terms of public health and jobs – with nearly 500,000 Americans now working in the solar and wind industries.

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“The federal government has failed to help coal communities for decades, and now…so we are stepping up,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. “We discovered several local groups in coal regions that are doing great work to help out-of-work miners develop new job skills and find new career opportunities.”

Bloomberg’s foundation is also launching a national fundraising campaign for citizens who also wish to support the coal workers.

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The initial $3 million donation will support the following groups:

The nonprofit Coalfield Development Corporation works in southern West Virginia rebuilding the Appalachian economy by supporting social enterprises that help transform perceived liabilities into assets via job creation, higher education, and mentorship. Coalfield Development’s enterprises provide jobs and new career opportunities in sustainable construction, solar installation, mine-land reclamation, sustainable agriculture, and artisanship. Coalfield Development hires unemployed people, including laid-off coal miners, according to a 33-6-3 weekly schedule: 33 hours of paid work for the enterprises listed above, 6 hours of higher education, and 3 hours of life-skills mentorship. The result is real work experience, an Associate’s Degree, and renewed self-confidence.

The Just Transition Fund helps to create robust communities in coal-dependent regions across the U.S. by strengthening projects in sustainable economic development, equity, and clean energy solutions. Guided by its conviction that communities have the power and wisdom to solve their own problems if given adequate support and resources, the Just Transition Fund works with a wide range of federal agencies and philanthropic foundations to provide just that.

The Western Organization of Resource Councils is a network of grassroots organizations rooted in the coalfield communities in Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and Colorado. From its beginning in 1979, WORC has championed the preservation of family farms and ranches, while building sustainable and prosperous communities that balance economic growth with the health of people and stewardship of their land, water, air and wildlife resources.

Bloomberg Philanthropies is also launching a CrowdRise campaign entitled From The Ashes to raise money for coal communities, and will cover all transaction fees for any donations. The funds raised by the CrowdRise campaign will be used by these three groups to help workers left behind by the coal industry.

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