Clarkston, DeKalb County provide grant funding to expand Empower Clarkston program

Clarkston Mayor Beverly Burks and former Clarkston mayor and current DeKalb County District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry hold a piece of the ribbon they cut along with other former and current city staff and officials to celebrate the completion of Clarkston’s streetscape construction on Friday, Sept. 3. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Clarkston, GA — Tekton Career Training is expanding its Empower Clarkston program after receiving a total of $375,000 from DeKalb County and the city of Clarkston.

Tekton Career Training is a DeKalb County-based business that focuses on training refugees in trade careers. DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry awarded the Tekton $250,000 in American Rescue Plan Act grant funding and Clarkston provided $125,000 in ARPA grant funding, according to a press release.

Empower Clarkston is a two-week, paid course. Participants learn how to renovate and incorporate energy-efficient upgrades to existing homes, apartments and other residences. This includes fixing structural damage, adding window and door sealants that reduce air and heat leaks, and making sure air ducts are properly sealed. 

Upgrades are free to homeowners. Participants in last year’s program saw a 35% decrease in their energy and electricity bills.

“Empower Clarkston benefits a broad range of people. Refugees seeking employment can get paid to learn necessary trades, and often can graduate with a job offer. Homeowners, especially those in need, can also get money-saving upgrades to their residences free of charge,” said Alyson Luzetsky, program manager at Tekton. “With this funding, we’ll be able to continue to offer this program for at least an additional two years.”

The program is currently accepting applications for trainees and homeowners. The first training session begins on Sept. 19. 

“By funding Empower Clarkston, we can ensure better workforce training, provide energy-efficient improvements for vulnerable residents and strengthen our county’s fight against climate change,” Terry said. “I’m thrilled to see this fantastic program continue to spread good throughout our county.”

He added that it’s vital to support businesses and organizations that give back to the county in such multi-faceted ways. Through this and other Tekton programs, refugees can secure stable jobs. At the same time, homeowners and renters benefit from lower bills and more energy-efficient homes.

Clarkston City Councilmember YT Bell also saw the community benefit from supporting this programming. Bell advocated for Tekton to receive a grant from the city, and the council unanimously voted to support Empower Clarkston.

“I’m so excited about this investment in our community, our economy, and supporting residents with burdens that will save residents money monthly,” Bell said. “(Through Empower Clarkston), we can provide water and energy efficiency services to reduce cost burdens to residents by the City of Clarkston, while supporting efforts to invest in our workforce and talent pool in our city and meeting the needs of our community.”

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