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July 22, 1999


BALTIMORE - The UMBC Shriver Center's Community Lead Education and Reduction Corps (CLEARCorps) has now received the $2.3 million which Congress set aside for the program last year as part of the expanded HUD $80 million lead hazard reduction program. CLEARCorps is an AmeriCorps program working to reduce childhood lead poisoning in urban neighborhoods across the country. Lead exposure is a key risk factor for cognitive disabilities, juvenile delinquency and mental retardation. In qualifying for the release of funding, CLEARCorps successfully met standards required by HUD's Office of Lead Hazard Control.

This news comes at a time when there is much focus on the threat of potential lawsuits against the "lead paint" industry. The CLEARCorps model, says James Price, national director of the CLEARCorps program, can be a practical and immediate solution for cities and communities where children are at greatest risk.

"There is no greater environmental threat to our nation's young children than lead poisoning, especially children living in older, economically distressed areas in our nation's cities and rural areas," says Price. "The bad news is that the cognitive damage suffered by children exposed to lead is irreversible. The good news is that childhood lead poisoning is completely preventable, and that CLEARCorps can play a crucial role in a community's overall lead poisoning prevention strategy."

In fact, the CLEARCorps program was developed by the Shriver Center in 1996 as a public-private partnership with the National Paint and Coatings Association, which has contributed substantial resources to its development. The Shriver Center serves as the national headquarters for the program, which has received national attention for cost-effectively addressing the problem of childhood lead-dust exposure in several U.S. cities.

During the last year alone, the CLEARCorps program has eliminated lead dust hazards in over 222 housing units, providing safe housing for more than 400 children under the age of six. The program currently operates in Baltimore, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Portland. CLEARCorps affiliates in Detroit, Houston, Providence are expected to be in operation later this year.

Since 1996, CLEARCorps has received annual funding of $700,000 from the Corporation for National Service, which enables teams AmeriCorps members, including students at UMBC, to serve their communities, gain valuable experience, receive stipends and earn post-service education awards of $4,750.

"CLEARCorps has demonstrated results," says John Martello, vice provost of community partnerships and executive director of the Shriver Center. "It is targeted, feasible and cost-effective. And, our approach helps our AmeriCorps volunteers develop practical job skills and successfully attacks the problems of childhood lead poisoning."

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Posted by dwinds1 at July 22, 1999 12:00 AM