Authors: Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins 640,329 That figure represents the number of jobs that have been created or saved so far through the Recovery Act, according to a report released by the Obama administration on Friday. But the true significance of this number lies in the people behind it. People like Tahlia Williams. Tahlia is a single mother of a 3-year-old son, in Brooklyn, NY. "Construction is something that I wanted to do for a long time," she said. "I had no way of knowing how to get into this field because I always heard it was a man's world." Now, thanks to an organization that is able to expand and recruit women using Recovery Act funds, Tahlia has a job weatherizing homes in New York. Tahlia is just one of thousands of people who are finding jobs, hope, and opportunity in the clean-energy economy. Their stories show the true return on investment that America's communities are reaping from Recovery Act funding. (You can see more stories from the growing green economy on Green For All's Green Economy Roadmap, released today). With just over one-quarter of the Recovery funds paid out, the jobs and opportunity created will only grow in the coming months. In addition to creating jobs in the short term, the Recovery Act is proving to be an essential jumpstart to the clean-energy economy, seeding new programs and expanding successful models across the country. But the Recovery Act was primarily meant to stabilize our economy in the midst of a sweeping recession, and most funding from the Act will end by 2011. To build a thriving, healthy economy for future generations, we need long-term investment and policies. Congress now has the historic opportunity to provide that long-term stability, and build on the foundation laid by the Recovery Act through climate and clean-energy legislation. The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act in the U.S. Senate could transition America to clean energy, creating millions of jobs in the process. And key provisions in the bill will ensure that the clean-energy economy is inclusive with opportunity for all. The Green Construction Careers Demonstration Project will create middle-class careers in the green economy for low-income families. It will ensure that jobs in green construction are good and accessible to workers like Tahlia Williams, whom have previously had little access to construction trades. The second provision, funding for the Green Jobs Act, will provide necessary training to skill up workers for the clean-energy economy. It will build "pathways out of poverty," by giving disadvantaged communities the training and education they need to succeed in new jobs. The Green Jobs Act received funding through the Recovery Act as well - funding which must continue and grow beyond next year. Both of these provisions will ensure that the clean-energy economy provides opportunity for every American. With thousands of workers and communities across the country benefiting from new clean-energy jobs and projects, we are beginning to see what the 21st century economy can look like for America. But we'll only get there if we rise to the challenge. And I mean all of us - anyone who is searching for a decent job, any family that is concerned about paying the bills and caring for its children, any community that yearns for a brighter future - we need to show our leaders in Washington, DC that we want a strong Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act to help us build a better America. It is up to all of us to secure the gains from the Recovery Act for years to come, and to press for continued investment in the kind of communities and economy we dream of.