American Climate Corps Initiative Announced by President Biden
The Biden-Harris Administration issues an Executive Action to officially establish a national American Climate Corps.
WASHINGTON, DC (September 20, 2023) – The Corps Network, the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps, applauds the Biden-Harris Administration for taking Executive Action to deliver on a campaign promise and Executive Order to mobilize the next generation of conservation and resilience workers through the American Climate Corps (ACC).
Ninety years ago, America was in the midst of the Great Depression and the nation was plagued by drought, erosion, fires, and floods – as well as high unemployment. In response, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) which put three million young men to work conserving natural resources and building an infrastructure we still rely on and enjoy today, including roads and visitor infrastructure in hundreds of national and state parks.
Today, climate change is the defining crisis of our time and it is happening more rapidly than we feared. We see evidence of it in extreme weather, severe storms, and catastrophic disasters across the country. Historically disadvantaged and under-resourced communities are disproportionately impacted by these events. Further, residents of these communities have little access to training and good jobs while the American workforce struggles to fill positions critical to supporting a strong economy.
Bold action is needed now – and it comes in the form of the Biden-Harris Administration’s American Climate Corps!
“Green City Force in Brooklyn and Corps across the county have been transforming lives and communities for decades. The time is now to align on a national level to leverage service as a platform for building skills, infrastructure, and resilient communities. The American Climate Corps presents an opportunity to scale what works and bring Corps and the many benefits they deliver to all communities,” says Tonya Gayle, Executive Director of Green City Force and The Corps Network board member.
The ACC will be based on the original CCC and modeled after some 150 Service and Conservation Corps successfully operating in communities across the country and enlisting nearly 25,000 youth annually. The ACC will provide tens of thousands of diverse young Americans with opportunities to serve and work in their own communities, conserving resources, mitigating climate change, and improving community resilience, while preparing for high-quality, good-paying jobs in a new clean and sustainable economy.
Specifically, the American Climate Corps will leverage historic investments through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to partner with existing and new community-based Corps to engage local youth in conserving and restoring our lands and waters, bolstering community resilience, deploying clean energy, and implementing energy efficient technologies. Consistent with the President’s Justice40 Initiative, at least 40% of funding for the ACC will go to disadvantaged communities and underserved populations. ACC participants, or Corpsmembers, will have access to training, hands-on work experience, supportive services, connections to employers, and on-ramps to career pathways. They will receive a living allowance or stipend for their service and have an opportunity to earn an AmeriCorps Education Award to pursue further education and training. A variety of federal agencies will lead ACC efforts including AmeriCorps and the US Departments of Agriculture, Commerce and Interior.
“Based on more than 40 years of experience, we know that Corps can simultaneously address multiple community and national challenges. The Corps Network and our member Corps are excited about and grateful for the opportunity to support and grow the Administration’s new American Climate Corps,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of the Corps Network. “Our youth, our communities, our country, and the environment need a national Corps as much as, if not more so, today as they did 90 years ago. We look forward to participating actively in the listening sessions referenced in the announcement to share lessons learned and to highlight important supplemental benefits gained by Corpsmembers ranging from improved mental health to preparation for promising careers. These sessions can help ensure a blueprint that enjoys broad support and has sustainability.”
Founded in 1985, The Corps Network is the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps. Our 150 member Corps provide young adults and veterans with the opportunity to serve our country through projects on public lands and in rural and urban communities. The Corps Network supports Corps through advocacy, providing access to funding and project opportunities, and by offering expertise in Corps operations and programming. Every year, The Corps Network’s efforts help some 25,000 diverse young people and recent veterans to strengthen communities, improve the environment, and transform their lives through service in Corps programs. Corps are locally-based organizations that engage young adults (generally ages 16 – 30) and veterans (up to age 35) in service projects that address conservation, climate resilience, and community needs. Corps are involved in the Smokey Bear efforts in California and will be supporting missions across the nation, including frequently updating mission information to provide information on seasonal changes, special events and to encourage repeat visits.