Educational & Employment Initiatives
SCDOT will develop partnerships with organizations to develop school-to-work employment programs with the goal of enhancing employment opportunities within the fields of construction, engineering, and transportation. During the right-of-way phases, SCDOT will seek to hire up to ten (10) high school students, college students, or young adults 25 years of age and younger from the impacted neighborhoods to work as summer interns. High school and college students from the EJ neighborhoods that will be displaced and relocated by the proposed project would remain eligible for participation in the School-to-Work program. The School-to-Work Program will begin in 2023 and end once ten (10) students have participated in the program.
College Aid Initiative
SCDOT will establish and manage a scholarship fund of up to $100,000. High school and college students from the impacted EJ communities that intend to or are currently attending institutions of higher education will be eligible for the scholarship. Residents of the EJ neighborhoods that will be displaced and relocated by the proposed project would remain eligible for the scholarship program. Members of the CAC will assist in the development of the selection criteria and members of the POC will assist in the selection of the scholarship recipients. The College Aid Initiative will begin in 2023 and funds will be available through construction or until all scholarship funds have been awarded.
During the right-of-way phases of the project, SCDOT will identify and provide financial support for pre-employment training opportunities that encourage career placement in the transportation industry. The program will be administered through the Community Office and offered to residents of the impacted EJ communities prior to construction of the interstate improvements. Participants who successfully acquire relevant job readiness skills will be considered for the On-The-Job Training (OJT) Program implemented by the contractor selected to construct the project.
Summer Transportation Institute Program
SCDOT will provide skill building programs to create awareness of and expose high school students to career opportunities in the transportation industry. The Summer Transportation Institute Program will begin in 2023 and will provide two summer transportation institute programs that accommodate 15-20 students per program.
Community Advisory Council (CAC)
SCDOT will continue to support the CAC throughout the remainder of the I-526 LCC WEST project development phase and publishing of the FEIS/ROD by facilitating their regularly scheduled monthly meetings and providing logistical and administrative support, as needed. When the project transitions from the project development phase (which includes development of the Environmental Justice Community Mitigation Plan) to the design phase, a Project Oversight Committee (POC) tasked with overseeing the implementation of the various EJ mitigation commitments will be initiated. See the POC section for additional details on the composition and role of the POC.
SCDOT will continue to operate and maintain a Community Office for the remainder of the project development phase and throughout both the final design and right-of-way phases of the project. The Community Office will continue to be staffed with a full-time Office Manager, Community Liaisons/Outreach Specialists, and part-time Right-of-Way Specialists who will be available to provide community residents with real-time project, relocation, and property acquisition information. Once the FEIS/ROD is approved, the Community Office will serve as a location for residents to receive information related to the implementation of the items identified in this EJ Community Mitigation Plan and the meeting place for the POC. Additionally, the Community Office will be available to serve as a meeting space for community advocacy groups and other stakeholders with an interest in the I-526 LCC WEST project.
SCDOT will provide organizational training for the CAC and community members interested in creating a community advocacy group. The Community Office and its staff will be available to provide support and identify resources that support, at a minimum, the new group’s administrative and leadership development and strategic and community planning. The organizational training will be provided until 2024.
Community Resource Guide
SCDOT will work with the CAC, Community Liaisons, and local non-profit organizations to develop a Community Resource Guide for EJ neighborhood residents. The purpose of the guide is to help sustain livability within affected EJ neighborhoods by increasing residents’ awareness of local organizations, resources, and other information on the following topics: food insecurities; health and wellness; home repair; financial assistance; minority-owned businesses; and referral agencies. The Community Resource Guide will be made available to residents of the EJ neighborhoods within six months of the approval of the FEIS/ROD. It will be updated yearly throughout the construction of the project.
Project Oversight Committee
A Project Oversight Committee (POC) will be established after the FEIS/ROD is approved. At that time, the POC will be tasked with overseeing the implementation of the EJ Community Mitigation Plan commitments. Prior CAC members and/or EJ neighborhood residents interested in getting involved with the project will be encouraged to participate on the POC. In addition to residents, the POC will consist of agency representatives responsible for implementing the various components of the EJ Community Mitigation Plan including: SCDOT, FHWA, the City of North Charleston, North Charleston Housing Authority, and the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG).
SCDOT will provide administrative support to the POC, consistent with the services provided to the CAC, as it assumes the following duties:
- Coordinate with technical staff on issues related to implementation of the components in the Mitigation Plan, and
- Serve as a liaison between the communities and project staff during the final design and construction phases.
Once established, it is anticipated that the POC would meet on a quarterly basis until the completion of all EJ Mitigation components.