I just want to learn about Corps.
What is a Corps?
Corps are organizations that engage young adults (generally ages 16 – 30) and veterans (up to age 35) in service projects that address local conservation and community needs.
Through a term of service that could last from a few months to a year, Corps participants – or “Corpsmembers” – gain work experience and develop in-demand skills. Corpsmembers are compensated with a stipend or living allowance and often receive an education award or scholarship upon completing their service. Additionally, Corps provide participants educational programming, mentoring, and access to career and personal counseling. Some Corps operate or partner with charter schools to help participants earn their high school diploma or GED.
Most Corps are nonprofits, but some are operated through universities or by state or local governments. Corps partner with local, state and federal government agencies, as well as other nonprofits, to identify and complete projects that benefit the public. Common projects include maintaining parks, managing invasive species and fire fuels, responding to natural disasters, and weatherizing low-income homes.
What is The Corps Network?
Established in 1985, The Corps Network is the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps. We have a membership of more than 140 Corps programs across the United States. The Corps Network supports Corps through advocacy, providing access to funding and project opportunities, and offering expert guidance in Corps operations and programming.
How do you pronounce Corps?
The “p” and the “s” in Corps are silent. Think “core,” like an apple core (not “corpse” like a zombie). The plural of “corps” is also spelled “corps,” but you DO pronounce the s (think “cores”). With its origins in Latin, the definition of Corps is “a group of persons associated or acting together.”
What’s the history of Corps?
Today’s Corps descend from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC): a federal work relief program created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression.
The CCC mobilized 3 million young men to dramatically improve the nation’s public lands. The “CCC Boys” received food, shelter, education, and a $30-a-month stipend. From 1933 – 1942, the CCC planted 3 billion trees and helped build trails, roads, campgrounds, and other park infrastructure still in use today.
Unlike the CCC – which was a large, federal program – most modern Corps are nonprofits or are operated by units of state or local government. Through public-private partnerships, Corps work with a range of organizations, companies, government agencies, and institutions to engage Corpsmembers in meaningful projects that address local and national issues. Many modern Corps are supported by AmeriCorps grants. Click here to learn more about the history of Corps.
Unfortunately, the original CCC practiced segregation. Black and Native American Corpsmembers did not necessarily have the same opportunities for advancement and training as their white peers. Today’s Corps reflect the diversity and priorities of the communities where they operate. The Corps Network is committed to promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion in the Corps world. Learn more about our Moving Forward Initiative.
Are you AmeriCorps?
No, but The Corps Network and many of our member Corps receive AmeriCorps grants. AmeriCorps is an independent federal agency that supports national service. It does this by providing grants to national non-profit organizations (like The Corps Network), state service commissions, and community-based organizations (including Corps). AmeriCorps grants allow organizations to recruit service members and provide them modest financial compensation and an Education Award. Learn more about The Corps Network’s AmeriCorps programs.
Do Service and Conservation Corps have anything to do with Job Corps?
Yes – Some of our member Corps are Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers. Job Corps is an education and job training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. Program participants must be between ages 16-24 and, among other qualifications, must meet certain low-income criteria. There are more than 100 Job Corps Centers across the country. Some of these locations, known as Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers (Job Corps CCCs) are operated by the U.S. Forest Service. These residential Centers focus on training young people in conservation and resource management skills. The JCCCs are members of The Corps Network.
What is the American Climate Corps?
The American Climate Corps is the concept that our country should invest in a 21st century version of the Civilian Conservation Corps to address climate change, train the climate-ready workforce we need, and address environmental injustice.
Launched by the Biden Administration in September 2023, the American Climate Corps (ACC) is a “workforce training and service initiative that will prepare tens of thousands of young people for good-paying jobs in the clean economy.” The White House envisions that the ACC will mobilize more than 20,000 participants in its first year to do critical projects like strengthening community resilience to natural disasters, restoring America’s lands and waters, deploying clean energy technologies, addressing environmental injustice, and more. Through completing conservation and climate resilience work, ACC members will earn certifications and build skills on the path to high-quality jobs in the clean energy and climate resilience economy.
How do I find a Corps near me?
I want to serve or work at a Corps.
Great! Head to our Jobs at Corps page to find open positions or scroll below to learn more.
Who serves in Corps? Is a Corps a good fit for me?
All sorts of young people serve in Corps, representing different abilities, life circumstances, and different ethnic, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. For most Corps, you don’t need to have specific skills or experience to join.
Some people join a Corps because they’re studying conservation and they want to gain hands-on experience. Some people join a Corps seeking a fresh start. Some join for a chance to earn money and learn a trade while completing their high school diploma. Some people join for a sense of adventure, a chance to meet new people, or simply a desire to do something meaningful.
I’m new to Corps. I don’t know where to start. How does this all work?
You came to the right place. The Corps Network is a membership association for America’s Service and Conservation Corps. We represent more than 150 Corps programs across the U.S. Each Corps is different, but they all share a common commitment to provide young adults the opportunity to grow, learn new skills, meet new people, and serve our country.
Our Jobs at Corps is where Corps in our membership post open positions. You can search positions based on several filters, including location, benefits, and the type of work. Each position description has a link or more information about where to apply. You will apply directly to the Corps program that interests you, not to The Corps Network. If you have questions about a specific program, we encourage you to contact that Corps directly.
The Corps Model:
When you join a Corps, you are a “Corpsmember.” Corpsmembers generally serve in crews (under the supervision of a Crew Leader) with up to a dozen other Corpsmembers. You will receive training and certifications relevant to the kinds of service projects you will complete. By participating in service projects alongside your peers and Crew Leader, you’ll have the opportunity to make a difference in the community, gain hands-on experience in a work-like atmosphere, and develop skills in leadership, teamwork and communication.
Some Corps offer internship or “individual placement” positions in which you will serve independently, often at a state or national park or forest.
Corpsmembers learn about potential career options. Corps partner with local, state and federal organizations and agencies to complete service projects that really have an impact.
Am I eligible to serve at a Corps?
Each Corps – and each position within a Corps – may have its own requirements. However, most Corps engage people ages 16-30. Some engage veterans up to age 35. To serve in AmeriCorps, you must be at least 17 and must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. National, or Lawful Permanent Resident Alien.
How do I sign up?
Each Corps handles its own recruitment. To find open positions, visit our Jobs at Corps page. Each position description includes instructions for where and how to apply.
Why should I join a Corps?
There are all sorts of good reasons. When you join a Corps, you have the opportunity to:
- Learn new job skills and gain hands-on work experience.
- Build your résumé. Earn professional certifications and credentials.
- Earn money.
- Meet new people and make friends.
- Challenge yourself and build confidence.
- Earn your high school diploma or GED (some Corps operate or partner with high school programs).
- Potentially earn an AmeriCorps Education Award to put towards student loans or future education.
- Potentially earn the Public Lands Corps Hiring authority. When a young person serves in a Corps and completes at least 640 documented service hours on federal lands or waters, they can receive the Public Lands Corps hiring authority. This is a special “noncompetitive” hiring status that allows someone to apply for federal jobs not open to the general public.
What types of projects would I do in a Corps?
It depends. Each Corps does slightly different work. Corps usually partner with local, state, or federal “resource managers” to complete projects. For example, a Corps might work with the National Park Service or your state park agency to help repair campgrounds and trails. Or a Corps might work with local government to restore abandoned lots, plant and maintain city trees, or collect recyling. In general, Corps Projects could include: habitat restoration, invasive species removal, tree planting, trail building, wildfire fuel reduction, shoreline restoration, data collection, historic preservation, recycling, home weatherization, solar panel installation, construction, organic farming, and much, much more!
Where can I serve?
There are Corps programs across the U.S. Some Corps are based in more rural areas or small town. Some Corps are based in America’s biggest cities. See our Find a Corps page.
How long would I serve?
It depends, but usually a couple months up to a year or more. Many Corps programs operate on a seasonal basis. For example, you may serve for a few months during the summer, then choose to extend your service by joining a fall crew. Individual placement positions might last up to a year.
Do I get paid? Are there any benefits?
Yes. Corpsmembers typically receive a stipend or living allowance. The amount varies by program and the duration of your service term. AmeriCorps members also receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award upon successful completion of their service. Education Awards can be used towards student debt or future educational endeavors.
Most Corps in The Corps Network offer health insurance. Some Corps might offer additional benefits like transportation assistance, food, housing, childcare subsidization, etc.
Can I learn any skills or earn certifications in a Corps?
Absolutely! A main purpose of Corps is to provide personal and professional development opportunities. You will gain training and hands-on experience in skills related to the projects you complete. For instance you may receive training and certification in chainsaw operation, herbicide application, urban forestry, wildland fire, solar panel installation, forklift operation, etc. All Corpsmembers also develop critical skills in teamwork, communication, conflict resolution, and time management.
What program is right for me?
It depends on what you’re looking for. Use the filters on our Jobs at Corps page to find a position that works for you. Ask yourself questions like these.
- Where do I want to serve?
- When can I serve?
- What kinds of projects do I want to do?
- What’s my main goal? What do I want to gain from my service term? (Work experience? Specific certifications? Travel and adventure? Earn money for school? Meet new people?)
- Am I okay with camping? Am I okay serving on a co-ed crew?
Where will I live if I join a Corps?
It depends. Some Corps recruit local young people who go home at the end of the day. Some Corps operate on a “hitch” or “spike” model in which Corpsmembers camp near their project site for up to about 10 days at a time. In this situation, Corps might offer housing for rest periods between spikes, or assist Corpsmembers in finding temporary housing nearby. Some larger Corps – like the California Conservation Corps or the Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center program – operate residential campuses.
I’m not 18 yet. Is there a Corps where I can serve?
Yes – several Corps operate youth programs for people under 18. You can filter for these positions on our Jobs at Corps page. Not seeing what you’re looking for? Please contact The Corps Network for guidance. Visit our Contact Us page and reach out to anyone from our Member Services team.
What’s an affinity crew?
Some Corps operate affinity programs that offer young adults the opportunity to serve and learn alongside peers with whom they share a common identity. For example, there are Corps that operate affinity crews for women, BIPOC, military veterans, Deaf and Hard of Hearing youth and young adults, LGBTQ+ youth and young adults, persons with disabilities, Native American youth and young adults, etc. These programs are designed to provide a uniquely empowering and inclusive space where persons – typically from marginalized communities – can bring their full selves and feel supported in trying new things.
I want to start a Corps program.
You’ve come to the right place! The Corps Network has decades of experience in the operation of Service and Conservation Corps.
Where can I get help to launch a Corps?
The Corps Network has a Starting a Corps Manual and can offer guidance and technical assistance. We’d love to speak with you to learn more about your goals. Please visit the Contact Us page and reach out to anyone from our Member Services team.
How can my organization join The Corps Network?
Please visit our Become a Member Organization page to learn more.
My organization wants to join The Corps Network.
We’d love to learn more about your organization. Click here to visit our Become a Member Organization page to learn more about joining our membership.
I want to partner with a Corps
Great! Corps across the country partner with federal, state, and local resource managers and government agencies –– as well as nonprofit organizations, school systems, concessionaires, and other private and public entities –– with the goal of completing important local projects and providing meaningful service-learning opportunities to young people. Please click here to visit our Partner with Corps page to learn more.