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Materials from The Corps Network 2024 Member Meeting

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CPA Team Impact Story: Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHP

By: Emma Fantuzzo

About the CPA Team:

With support from the National Park Foundation, the Corps Project Assistance (CPA) Team was created by The Corps Network to aid the National Park Service (NPS) in scoping and creating cost estimates for facility-related projects at small and medium-size parks across the country. These parks often lack the staff capacity and funding to undertake the work on their own. The projects, which are funded through the Great American Outdoors Act, are meant to be carried out by crews consisting of NPS staff and Service and Conservation Corps members.

Over the past two years, the CPA Team has scoped projects across the country, several of which have been completed. The finished projects include historic preservation projects at Camp Nelson National Monument, Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, and Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park

We talked with Scott Powell, Facility Manager and Acting Superintendent of Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park, about his experience working with Corps and the impact he saw on the Corpsmembers.

Q: What was the project the Corps worked on and why was this work needed?

Scott: This project was focused on the replacement of 2,000 Linear feet of deteriorated split rail fencing found throughout the landscapes of Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHP. These fences were in an advanced state of deterioration and by replacing them provided a restoration of the park’s historical appearance, significantly improving the preservation of cultural and natural resources as well as the visitor experiences in the park. The project was taken on by a crew of five Corpsmembers and a Crew Leader from American Conservation Experience.

Q: Why is the park partnering with a Corps program to complete this project and what are some benefits to the park?

Scott: The park partnered with Corps to not only address the issues with the deteriorated fence that was identified in the park’s Cultural Landscape Report but also to provide Corpsmembers the opportunity to learn. Corpsmembers gained knowledge and skills of things like, operational risk management, the use of hand and power tools, split rail fence construction, carpentry, and understanding of the history of NPS and Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHP, and the purpose of land management agencies.
Completion of this project successfully addressed the need for the restoration of a more historically accurate cultural landscape. Replacing the deteriorated fence with new split rail improved the look of the site requiring much less maintenance for many years. This project aligns with Park’s Foundation Document in that it supports the presentation of a cultural landscape as it appeared when first constructed and provides an opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in that period of history.

Q: What were some highlights of the partnership that you observed?

Scott: Seeing the impact on Corpsmembers was my biggest highlight. Most of the Corpsmembers had never seen a split rail fence, much less removed and installed a new one in its place. It was a highlight to see these youth engaging with their hands to build something that will affect this park and its visitors for years to come. The park leadership was also able to schedule a meeting with the Corpsmembers to discuss our career paths and ways that a person can start a career with the NPS.
It is my hope that each Corpsmember took away the importance of teamwork and how to rely on other members of their team to accomplish goals. I would also hope that the members understand the importance of our nations National Park’s and their historical resources and have a better understanding of the NPS mission.

Q: Was this your first Corps collaboration and what would you like to see out of future collaborations?

Scott: This was not the park’s first time working with the Corps. The park has utilized Corpsmembers to perform maintenance on trails, help build a rip rap drainage in the park. It is always a pleasure to work with the Corps and engage with its members. The park hopes to utilize the Corps in the future by working on one of the backcountry trails or even being part of replacing the remaining split rail fence in the park.
I think that other parks looking to work with Corps should make it happen. Engaging our youth while working with the Corps to rehabilitate historical assets and landscapes is vital not only to the future of NPS but also to the future of the United States of America.

Corps Oral History: Dana Stein

By: Emma Fantuzzo

About the Corps Oral History Project:

The Corps movement dates to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) of the 1930s – ‘40s. The CCC offered young, mostly white, men the opportunity to work and earn money during the Great Depression. The “CCC boys” planted billions of trees, built hundreds of parks, and established a legacy of conservation across the country.

While the CCC certainly provided a framework for modern Corps, it wasn’t until the 1970s and ‘80s that a new, more equitable, and ever-evolving Corps movement began to emerge. This oral history project gathers insights from the dreamers, innovators, and leaders who made today’s network of Service and Conservation Corps possible.

Dana’s Background:

Dana Stein, the executive director of Civic Works, has been an influential member of the Corps world since the early 90s when he read about City Year, while working as a lawyer. Intrigued by the idea of Corps programming and the potential it had, Dana reached out to the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps (NASC), the predecessor of The Corps Network, for information on the Urban Corps Expansion Project. He also connected with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend who at the time was working on service-learning issues in Maryland. As Dana put it, “Long story short, she and I founded Civic Works, and we opened our doors in 1993. I quit practicing law and have been running it ever since.”

Over the years, Dana credits his various mentors from, San Francisco Conservation Corps, Montgomery County Conservation Corps, and City Year, for Civic Works’ success. He notes that the Corps community understands the importance of helping each other’s programs thrive – something that nonprofits in other sectors don’t always have the benefit of.

Today, Dana continues to serve as executive director of Civic Works, a Corps that has grown exponentially in size and program capacity. Civic Works performs not only Service and Conservation Work such as installing solar panels, mitigating stormwater runoff, and building parks, but also operates a school, providing secondary education opportunities for students in the Baltimore area. Civic Works serves as an inspiration for the potential that Corps, and Corps leaders, can achieve.

Dana’s Insights:

Q: What was the Corps Community like when you started?

Dana: It was certainly smaller. It was proportionally more focused on conservation. I think over the years there’s been a recognition of greater needs in different areas. There’s been a diversification of the types of issue areas that Corps have worked on. The key point of the timing for Civic Works, and I know for other Corps, was when AmeriCorps was started. AmeriCorps was signed in 1993, and then we became an AmeriCorps program and AmeriCorps was, I think, significant in providing startup funding. It helped prompt a lot of new Corps to get going.

Much of the DEI work that has happened, has happened in the past five years. But nonetheless, I think that the Corps was evolving in that direction and certainly has accelerated in the past five years. It is increasingly important work. Even before 2020, we had worked with consultants in DEI space. There’s a local group called the Association of Black Charities and we hired a consultant from there to make recommendations for improving our DEI policies. We just recently completed a consultancy with another expert in DEI work and made a series of recommendations. So Civic Works is taking those recommendations and is going to incorporate them into our practices. We are also implementing them into our strategic plan, which has a DEI focus. We have work to do, but we are hopeful that we will continue to make progress. 

Q: What types of programming does Civic Works participate in?

Dana: Some of what we do might be considered urban conservation. We do some landscaping; we do urban farming which has a positive impact on green space. But a lot of our work is what you would consider to be service work. For example, I mentioned we have a high school, so we have probably 20 members that help the school by doing different things. We’ve done a lot of food distribution work. Probably 15 years ago we expanded to include working with older adults, helping them age in place through home repairs as well as social service work.

We’ve also expanded to do a lot of energy conservation work and now we’re doing more in terms of renewable energy through low-income solar installations. Traditionally, Civic Works has done more service as opposed to conservation work, but we work a lot in climate mitigation. Climate is the future. Long term, where Corps will be called upon to help and provide critical value, that’s in climate resilience.

Q: What would you say is your vision for the Corps movement as a whole?

Dana: Some of what we do might be considered urban conservation. We do some landscaping; we do urban farming which has a positive impact on green space. But a lot of our work is what you would consider to be service work. For example, I mentioned we have a high school, so we have probably 20 members that help the school by doing different things. We’ve done a lot of food distribution work. Probably 15 years ago we expanded to include working with older adults, helping them age in place through home repairs as well as social service work.

We’ve also expanded to do a lot of energy conservation work and now we’re doing more in terms of renewable energy through low-income solar installations. Traditionally, Civic Works has done more service as opposed to conservation work, but we work a lot in climate mitigation. Climate is the future. Long term, where Corps will be called upon to help and provide critical value, that’s in climate resilience.

Q: What would you say is your vision for the Corps movement as a whole? 

In the past couple of years, we’ve seen the accelerating impact of climate change. At the same time, there’s been growing efforts at the federal and state level to reduce emissions and limit the impact of climate change. So, I think the Corps will be called upon and well suited to respond to the need to try to mitigate these impacts. This can be done through more widespread adoption of energy efficiency efforts; installing energy efficient light bulbs, water reducing devices in homes, and more extensive weatherization.

We can also help with stormwater impact. We can’t do big storm water mitigation projects, but in localized areas we can help through rain gardens and other landscape practices that will reduce the very local impacts of stormwater and help cities be more resilient to heat. Civic Works is also developing a resilience hub through a state grant which will enable residents to have a place to go to charge their phones and cool down in the case of widespread power outages.

This all circles back to the original mission of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC was known as the tree army, they planted three billion trees. At the time, it wasn’t called green infrastructure like we call it today, but when you think about ways to offset heat, especially in urban areas, it’s planting trees and adding green spaces. Corps like California Conservation Corps are already doing climate work like fighting wildfires, and in Louisiana, Corps help with flooding and storm surge. So, the work is already being done, but my hope is that on a more widespread basis Corps will be utilized.

Q: This year is the 90th anniversary of the CCC, is there anything else you would like to add on how Corps carry out its legacy?

You know, when we first got going, I connected with a CCC alumni chapter. About 30 years ago there were still a decent number of CCC alumni around. We brought the alums out to talk to our former members about the impact that the Corps has. The benefits of the Corps in the 1930s were largely like today. A lot of the benefits came from working on a team, from working on community projects, and learning new skills. So similar were the issues discussed, it was striking, but it also speaks to the resilience of the Corps model.

Of course, today’s Corps has improved on the CCC. The CCC was segregated, today we are striving to make progress in terms of diversity. We have also improved in our ability to respond to different needs, especially service aspects. We have expanded outside of just conservation work.

We also have room for improvement; I think there’s a role for us to be adopters of technology, not just in terms of our administrative efforts, but in terms of Corps, day-to-day operations.

Q: What impact have you seen on Corpsmembers because of their Corps experience?

We have sector-based training programs, one of them is called our Utility Infrastructure program in partnership with the local utility (Baltimore Gas and Electric) and they partner with us in providing training that will lead to jobs with their gas and electric contractors for maintaining their system. We had the CEO of the utility come in and talk with 30 trainees from a couple different classes. After the presentation, the dialogue from the trainees indicated how the program has had a big impact on their lives already. When someone finishes the program, they’re 95% likely to get a job with a living wage. It has the potential for changing their life trajectory and helping them to enter a career path.
It’s always great to hear and it reinforces that the model we’ve had in place for a long time and have built on over the years, works.
Corps work has a huge impact on communities. It has opened my eyes to things I would never have known about or learned about in terms of issues in communities. It’s been life changing for me, I’m very happy I stumbled across that article about City Year, years ago. It is incredible all the different things that have come out of it.


Public Lands Corps Guides for Forest Service Partners

Many organizations in The Corps Network’s membership are Public Lands Corps (PLC). These are programs that partner with government resource management agencies and Tribal entities to help maintain and improve our lands and waters. Young people who serve in PLC programs and meet a set of requirements are eligible to receive the Public Lands Corps Hiring Authority, which can help them secure a job with a federal resource management agency upon completing their service. 


The U.S. Forest Service recently provided the following guides to Public Lands Corps partners. Among these resources  is a PLC Implementation Guide for Forest Service Partners, which discusses PLC eligibility requirements, PLC certification issuance process, and points of contact in the Forest Service. Also included is a Public Land Corps Resource Guide for Participants, which discusses eligibility requirements, how to request a PLC certificate, and more. Last is a resource on How to Request PLC Certifications. 

Questions about these resources can be directed to Kelsey Chun, Program Specialist at USFS: [email protected]


Public Land Corps Implementation Guide

Public Land Corps Resource Guide

How to Request PLC Certifications



Corps Oral History: Andrew Moore

By: Emma Fantuzzo

About the Corps Oral History Project:

The Corps movement dates to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) of the 1930s – ‘40s. The CCC offered young, mostly white, men the opportunity to work and earn money during the Great Depression. The “CCC boys” planted billions of trees, built hundreds of parks, and established a legacy of conservation across the country.

While the CCC certainly provided a framework for modern Corps, it wasn’t until the 1970s and ‘80s that a new, more equitable, and ever-evolving Corps movement began to emerge. This oral history project gathers insights from the dreamers, innovators, and leaders who made today’s network of Service and Conservation Corps possible.

Andy’s Background:

Andrew Moore was introduced to the Corps movement in 1987 when he joined the Human Environment Center (HEC) as a staff member. At the time, HEC served as the fiscal agent for The Corps Network’s predecessor, the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps (NASCC).

“At that point, we had about 40 programs that we knew of around the country. Many of them were statewide programs, there was a tiny spattering of local programs. So that was the beginning, back in ’87.”

Andy went on to work with NASCC for the next 15 years in various roles. In 1988 he staffed a partnership with Public/ Private Ventures called the Urban Corps Expansion Project which set out to build on examples in places like Oakland, San Francisco and LA, to plant Corps in at least 15 cities around the country. Several of these start-up Corps are still active, such as the Greater Miami Service and Conservation Corps.

In the 90s, building on the momentum created during the Bush administration, the Clinton administration brought more attention and resources to National Service with the creation of the Corporation for National Service. During that time, Andy, still working with NASCC, worked on federal agency partnerships and funding flows for Corps.

“We set the wheels in motion beginning in ’93 and ‘94 for increased partnerships between Corps and the National Park Service and to some degree the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife, and other federal agencies. NASCC took another major step by applying successfully to the US Department of Labor support welfare-to-work “Corps to Career” projects with several member Corps… That was right around 2000, at the peak time of funding for youth employment from the federal government. It’s never been the same since.”

In 2002, Andy left NASCC and began consulting with Corps on strategic planning and partnership development. This led him to begin consulting with the National League of Cities where he currently works as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Connections. Andy continues to look for ways to utilize and expand Corps work.

Andy’s Insights:

Q: What was the Corps Community like when you started? How has it changed?

Andy: If I go all the way back to ’87, the leaders in the Corps world were largely people who had experience in that Jimmy Carter era of the Young Adult Conservation Corps programs at the state level. In the latter half of the 1980s and first half of the 1990s and I think especially through the Urban Corps Expansion Project, we were able to create leadership roles for more people of color, for women, and just really start to diversify what the leadership in staffing of the Corps world looked like.

I think there have been discussions and debates over time about who can best benefit from participation in a Corps. I’d like to think that emphasis on providing opportunities for young people who had less opportunity starting out is a big emphasis in the Corps world. The Corps Network is a major participant in ongoing policy support for opportunity youth, so I am glad to see that. Even the Corporation for National Service has come around after many years of resisting our role in employment and training to embrace that under the current leadership.


Q: Where do you think the Corps movement is headed and what could be improved going forward?

Andy: I’m still interested in, and this goes back to when we started doing training in urban stream restoration 30 years ago – thinking about young people, wondering what Corps can do to strengthen ties with employers or demonstrate that they are really delivering young people credentials and experience that will pay off well in public or private sector jobs after they leave the Corps. I’m imagining that there is still work to do to tighten up the connections. I know that it is difficult work. So that’s one area.

Despite the growth of federal funding and federal partnerships, I think there’s so much need for more Corps. There is a huge population of opportunity youth, five million across the country, and a lot more young people should have a Corps experience. There’s a long way to go to be operating at the scale that we need to be operating.

Sitting where I do at National League of Cities, I’m not sure that we have really maximized the potential for Corps to work with cities. I think the relationship between PowerCorps and the Philadelphia Water Department is a good model of mutually beneficial relationships…as I’ve talked to Corps in recent years, I have the sense that cities are not always welcoming partners and that there are legal barriers in place, and I wish we could do more to break those down and make sure that Corps and cities are working together.

NASCC Staff in 2000, Andy third from left

Q: What do you feel is the effect Corps have on young people’s lives?

Andy: First is the connection to local projects and being able to go back to a site and say, “I contributed to this, I did this.” Second, I think there’s something for crew-based Corps. Strong team identification, and the ability to really connect with a mentor and a crew supervisor. That can pay a lot of dividends. Best case, a chance to complete or advance your education in a way that’s grounded in the actual work experience so that it feels relevant and creates a sense of forward momentum in terms of credentialing and so forth. And creating a consistent source of income, even if small scale. It gives young people on that track the opportunity to earn money.


Q: Do you have any stories from your experiences that you’d like to share?

Andy: In Montana and Arizona we had to go through a couple of rounds to get it right, to get to a structure that would work in each of the states. To have the Corps working in huge geographic areas, a lot of rural space and population concentration, a lot to figure out in terms of how to make a Corps work in those states. Unlike California, which always has forest fires and disasters that contribute to the need for the CCC, those states have been somewhat more insulated from those disasters so they had to figure out working relationships and funding flows that would work. It was gratifying to work alongside them. I was there as an advisor, trying to bring in ideas from other places to help tighten up their thinking, so those were great experiences working in those two states, and both of which as I understand still have a lot of Corps activity.

I wish the Corps community the best. I wish I had more time to connect with people I’ve met over time. Always eager to hear stories of success and challenges and standing ready to help add momentum to the successes and work through the challenges.

Corps Oral History: Bruce Saito

By Emma Fantuzzo

About the Oral History Project:

The Corps movement dates back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) of the 1930s – ‘40s. The CCC offered young, mostly white, men the opportunity to work and earn money during the Great Depression. The “CCC boys” planted billions of trees, built hundreds of parks, and established a legacy of conservation across the country.

While the CCC certainly provided framework for modern Corps, it wasn’t until the 1970s and ‘80s that a new, more equitable, and ever-evolving Corps movement began to emerge. This oral history project gathers insights from the dreamers, innovators, and leaders who made today’s network of Service and Conservation Corps possible.

Bruce’s Background:

Bruce Saito has dedicated the past 47 years of his life to Conservation Corps and is currently Director of the California Conservation Corps (CCC). Bruce grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in Art. His history with the Corps began in 1977 when he was hired to a supervisory position with the CCC. As he put it, “I started my career and never looked back with the Conservation Corps movement.”

Bruce has had a huge impact not only on the CCC but also on the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, which he helped establish in 1986. His work has influenced modern Corps across the country and helped usher in the Corps movement as we know it today. More recently Bruce served as the president of the California Association of Local Conservation Corps and as president of The Corps Network’s Board of Directors. Bruce was awarded The Corps Network’s Corps Legacy Achievement Award in 2014.

“[The Corps] has been a great pleasure and a kind of obsession of mine. It’s amazing.”

Bruce’s Insights:

Q: What was the Corps community like when you started?

Bruce: When I began in 1977, Governor Jerry Brown modeled the CCC a little bit after the Civilian Conservation Corps, but a lot more inclusive. The Civilian Conservation Corps was all boys, men, and it was segregated at that. I think this governor was intent on not only diversifying but being more inclusive. There have been times where the CCC has been probably 30 or 40% women and I think we’re constantly trying to improve. Back then we were coming after the Vietnam War, so the world was upside down.

There was always, especially in California, a strong commitment to the environment. In the 1970s there was a great need for employment of young folks. People wanted to go to school, but some also wanted to serve their communities. So that kind of convergence of doing the natural resource conservation work was still a great need. You know this is the time of Woodstock. The message back then, and still is, is the ability to serve your community, to develop those skills and experiences and at the same time do something good for the environment.


Q: What would you say has been the biggest change you’ve seen since you began?

Bruce: What’s changed I think is how we approach young folks and the message that really resonates with folks to get them to make that commitment. I’m still trying to figure out post-pandemic, what really motivates young folks. I still think that it doesn’t matter which generation you’re from, we’re looking for that little spark in each person that they want to really contribute, they want to pay it forward.

The environmental issues might change from 40 years ago – maybe it was water, and then it was clean air, and now it’s certainly climate – but it’s all related to the environment.  I think that’s not been a change, but something that’s been consistent. Some of the venues change, some of the priorities change, but the constant is this commitment to the environment.

Bruce Saito with Mary Ellen Sprenkel and Derrick Crandall at The Corps Network Board Retreat, August 2023

Q: What do you think is the future of the Corps movement and what would you like to see happen in the future?

Bruce: I might just be drunk on the notion of the Corps movement, but I see the movement continuing. I see it not only continuing but expanding because, again, those basic issues will remain constant. There are peaks and valleys. When we had the 2008 recession, and every time there’s recession for the world, state, or community, our recruitment increases. Then when things are great, we hit a valley but it’s still consistent where there’s always going to be young folks who want to serve, that want to do something good for the environment. So, I think the future is only going to get bigger and stronger, despite technology.

For us, the future is strong because our priorities don’t waver as much as some of those one-and-done companies. We’ve been spending many years on climate. There was a period, 20 or 30 years ago, where Service and AmeriCorps, in President Clinton’s administration, was big. And then that changed with administration. But we still have AmeriCorps. I think it’s because some of those AmeriCorps programs stay abreast with the changing times. And so, I think again the future is strong, but it’s critical for all program innovators to keep changing with the times. Especially now. I think with climate change people are looking to help.


Q: How does California Conservation Corps help to mitigate climate change?

Bruce: This is a good example of where we’ve adapted and changed. We’ve traditionally built trails, planted trees, developed parks, and we’ve always responded to emergencies: fires, floods and agricultural events, and the like. About 10 years ago, maybe even more, we helped pass legislation to do energy efficiency audits and retrofits at schools. That legislation ended after about five years. And now the CCC gets a small portion of the CCC’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. So, we have about 125 young folks who are doing energy efficiency audits for public buildings and nonprofit groups and then they’re turning those audits into energy efficiency retrofits.

In recent years, besides us doing energy efficiency, building audits, and retrofits, we’re now doing solar installation and electric vehicle charging stations to go with the flow and stay ahead of California eliminating all gas guzzling vehicles by 2030 or 2035.

We’ve also done a lot in fuel reduction to prevent catastrophic fires, which in turn keep carbon in the ground and in the trees. And we try to do a lot of reforestation and tree planting projects.

Q: Could you share a little bit about what you think the impact of the Corps is on young people’s lives?

Bruce: That’s one of the proudest areas that I’ve got to experience. More than 130,000 young folks have come through the CCC and that’s a cool thing. I’d like to say that many of them we’ve helped, and I hear from them that we’ve changed their lives.

Developing, progressing, and making their life better… I think that’s what we do each day. We ask young folks to bust their butts every day. We have six crews or about 80 young folks doing levee repair where there was once a dry lake, which now looks like an ocean because of last winter’s severe flooding.

Those folks are working. They get up at five, they’re at the site by seven in the morning and they don’t leave the site till five or later at night.

The crew will be out there for at least 10 days and maybe 13 or 14 days in a row. And they’re dividing the crew work up, but they’re filling 7,000 sandbags a day. So, the number just kind of blows your mind…a crew of 15, they split up and they’re filling sandbags. They’re shoveling and filling sandbags for a full day. And it’s backbreaking labor, intensive work, but it’s also monotonous and it’s like ‘Oh my gosh.’ – And that’s just the first day.

How do you sustain that? You’ve got to really build on that sense of purpose with the young folks that you’re saving property, you’re saving lives by restoring and shoring up this levee. And it may not seem like it at three o’clock in the afternoon when you’re sore and you’re on your seventh day out there and it’s hot outside, but you know, you do it. Because you know that you’re really doing something of great value.

Update from The Corps Network’s Government Relations Team – July 24, 2023

By Meghan Castellano & Danielle Owen

Read this blog from The Corps Network’s Government Relations Team about recent updates from Washington and what they mean for the Service and Conservation Corps community.


Fiscal Responsibility Act (Debt Limit Law) Update

Over Memorial Day weekend, President Joe Biden and U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)  announced that an agreement had been reached on raising the federal government’s debt limit. This legislation passed the House and the Senate by a bipartisan vote and was ultimately signed into law by President Biden on June 3. This law H.R. 3746, The Fiscal Responsibility Act averted the debt limit crisis.

What’s In the Debt Limit Law?

  • The law will suspend the federal government’s $31.4 trillion debt limit until January 2025. The bill cuts non-defense discretionary spending for Fiscal Year 2024 and will limit all discretionary spending to 1 percent growth in Fiscal Year 2025. Along with rescinding close to $28 billion in unspent pandemic relief funds, the law rescinds $1.4 billion in mandatory IRS funds that were appropriated for this year in the Inflation Reduction Act. The bill will also toughen work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF).
  • The law also includes a procedure for passing the annual appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2024 and Fiscal Year 2025. Congress would be required to pass all twelve annual appropriations bills by January 1 (for those two fiscal years) or there would be an automatic cut to current spending by 1 percent.

What Does This Mean for Corps?

For the Corps community, AmeriCorps is one of the agencies that will have funding rescinded from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). AmeriCorps’s unobligated funding from the ARPA – excluding ARPA funding in their Salaries and Expenses, the National Service Trust, and the Inspector General accounts – would be rescinded. The funds that are being rescinded were expected to be used through what remains of Fiscal Year 2023 and in Fiscal Year 2024 as part of AmeriCorps’s multiyear ARPA implementation plan. Below is what the rescission of these ARPA funds means for AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps State and National:

  • AmeriCorps VISTA: A total of $37 million, intended to support living allowances in Fiscal Year 2024, will be rescinded. Due to this cut, AmeriCorps VISTA will not host a summer associate program in Fiscal Year 2024 and anticipates funding 500 fewer full-year member service years in Fiscal Year 2024 than in Fiscal Year 2023 (pending Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations).
  • AmeriCorps State and National: A total of $28 million, which was expected to be used for competitive grant funding in Fiscal Year 2024, will be rescinded. This will reduce the number of AmeriCorps State and National positions funded in Fiscal Year 2024 by approximately 2,500 AmeriCorps members.


Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations

How Is the Fiscal Responsibility Act (Debt Limit Law) Related to Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations?

  • While the Fiscal Responsibility Act’s immediate goal was to raise the debt ceiling so that the U.S. could avoid defaulting, it also included topline spending caps for Appropriators to use when creating their appropriations bills.
  • This legislation set the non-defense discretionary spending cap at $704 billion. This is a $40 billion cut (or five percent) from Fiscal Year 2023. The Appropriations Committees will be able to reallocate unspent funds, largely from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), that will essentially help to keep Fiscal Year 2024 non-defense funding at flat levels.

Where Do the Annual Appropriations Bills Stand Currently?

The Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations process is in full swing in the U.S. Congress. The House is close to completing its committee action on Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bills. Unfortunately, House Appropriations Chair Kay Granger (R-TX), in response to pressure from the far-right wing of the House Republican Caucus, has decided to draft their Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bills at Fiscal Year 2022 funding levels and not that level set in the debt limit legislation. The Senate is drafting their bills at the funding levels set in the debt limit legislation. Below is information on what is in the House draft bills for the Interior-Environment and Labor, Health, and Human Services Subcommittees.

  • Interior and Environment (bill passed out of Full House Committee)

    The House Appropriations Committee has held a full committee mark-up of the Interior-Environment draft bill. The draft bill report is linked here.

    • The draft bill contains cuts to the Department of Interior (DOI) overall and at the Department’s various units. There are increases for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for wildland fire management. The bill does include the annual $5 million at the USFS for “priority projects within the scope of the approved budget, which shall be carried out by the Youth Conservation Corps and shall be carried out under the authority of the Public Lands Corps Act of 1993 (16 U.S.C. 1721 et seq.).”
    • The draft bill’s report contains the following language:
      • “Federal Corps Programs. —No funding is provided within Title I for the Department of the Interior to implement the redundant Civilian Climate Corps. The Committee supports the work of the Youth Conservation Corps and the Public Lands Corps, two longstanding Federal corps programs related to conserving and restoring public lands and waters that partner with locally based, nonfederal corps organizations.”
  • Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education (bill passed out of House Subcommittee)

    As of the writing of this, the House Appropriations Full Committee has not marked up the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations bill. There is the potential for changes to this draft bill during the full committee mark-up. As it stands, the draft bill provides $163 billion in Fiscal Year 2024 funding. This is a cut of $63.8 billion or 28 percent below Fiscal Year 2023. If this became law, it would be the lowest funding level for the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education bill since 2008.

      • AmeriCorps – The draft bill would cut the AmeriCorps agency’s topline to $660.94 million. This is a fifty percent cut compared to Fiscal Year 2023. The bill would eliminate funding for the National Service Trust, which funds the Education Awards that Corpsmembers earn.
      • Job Corps – The draft bill eliminates funding for Job Corps, a cut of $1.8 billion that would eliminate job training and employment services for 50,000 youth who face barriers to employment.
      • Pell Grant – The bill does not provide an increase for the maximum Pell Grant award. The amount of a full-time Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is equivalent to the maximum value of the Pell Grant. If this bill became law, it would be the first time since 2012 that the maximum Pell Grant award was not increased.
      • WIOA Youth Job Training State Grants – The draft bill eliminates funding for WIOA Youth Job Training state grants, a cut of $948 million that would eliminate job training and employment services for 128,000 youth who face barriers to employment.


Are We Headed Towards a Government Shutdown? Could There Be a Year Long Continuing Resolution?

Given the discrepancies in funding levels at which the House and Senate are drafting their spending bills it will likely be difficult for the two chambers to find common ground. Fiscal Year 2023 ends on September 30, 2023. Congress has until then to pass an Appropriations package. If they are unable to do so they may pass a Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded at current levels until a decided end date. It is important to keep in mind that the debt limit legislation, signed into law in early June, also includes a provision that would reduce defense and non-defense spending by one percent from current levels if all twelve full-year appropriations bills are not completed by January 1, 2024.

If by the end of September 30, 2023, no agreement is reached to pass an appropriations package through both chambers of Congress and signed into law by the President or no Continuing Resolution is passed through both chambers and signed into law by the President, a federal government shutdown would occur.


The Corps Network’s Equity Statement – A Message from the CEO

Dear friends of The Corps Network, 

I am pleased to share The Corps Network’s equity statement. As our organization embarks on a new five-year strategic plan, this statement will guide all our decisions around development and growth.  


We acknowledge that the modern Corps movement traces its roots back to a program – the Civilian Conservation Corps – that did not offer equal opportunities to all. We recognize that the conservation world in which we operate has also historically lacked diversity and representation. With this statement, we accede the unfortunate reality that opportunity and access are not spread fairly. However, we also recognize that we have the ability and a responsibility to evolve, change things for the better, and invest in a more equitable future.   


With this statement at the center of our work, we aim to prioritize expansion of Corps programming in communities and populations that have faced environmental injustice and disinvestment. We seek to thoughtfully develop new career pathways and partnerships that set Corps alums on the path to well-paying, meaningful careers. We will offer more trainings and resources to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) in the Corps community. The Corps Network will also look in the mirror: among other steps, we are conducting an equity audit and supporting each staff member to undergo an equity certification course.  


While The Corps Network has been around for nearly four decades, this is our first equity statement. That is not to say this is our first endeavor to center equity in our work. With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we launched our Moving Forward Initiative in 2017. Through this effort, and the bold leadership of Capri St. Vil, we embarked on offering more DEIJ programming through our conference and webinars, training our staff on the impacts of systemic racism, and creating Corpsmember Liberation and Leadership – an innovative workshop designed to empower young people of color.  


I humbly thank Capri for challenging us and guiding us through this work. I am pleased to share that, as Capri has transitioned into a consulting role (and “semi-retirement” – she can’t go far!), our own Tia Blakney has stepped in to lead The Corps Network’s DEIJ initiatives. Tia has been an invaluable member of our Gulf office for several years, helping provide DEIJ training to GulfCorps members and staff. I applaud Tia on her important work thus far and I am excited to see what direction she takes us.  


Creating this new equity statement was a team effort. The language was crafted by members of our staff and Board of Directors, and the entire team at The Corps Network weighed in and offered feedback. I am proud to say this is a statement to which we are fully committed. I invite you to join us as we start this new chapter of centering diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in our work at The Corps Network.  



Mary Ellen Sprenkel

President and CEO, The Corps Network


Primary Contact Invitation