The Corps Network was awarded $10 million from the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program to establish new Urban and Community Corps programs.
Member organizations of The Corps Network received over $88 million combined to support projects creating more climate-resilient and equitable cities through urban forestry.
WASHINGTON, DC (September 14, 2023) – The Corps Network, the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps, is pleased to announce the receipt of $10 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service to establish new Urban and Community Corps programs targeting youth and young adults in disadvantaged, nature-deprived communities.
This past April, as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the Biden Administration announced the availability of more than $1 billion in grants to increase community investments in urban tree canopies. This funding is part of a $1.5 billion investment in the USDA’s Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program (U&CF) and will support nearly 400 projects to expand access to green spaces and trees in communities across the country.
The Corps Network also congratulates their member organizations who were awarded over $88 million in funding from the U&CF program. Awarded members include Anchorage Park Foundation, Civic Works, Kupu, Maine Conservation Corps, Northwest Youth Corps, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps – New Mexico, Student Conservation Association, Groundwork USA, and Hispanic Access Foundation.
Made possible by the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, these grants will increase equitable access to green spaces where over 84% of Americans live. Additional positive outcomes due to this funding include stronger resiliency to air pollution, extreme heat, flooding, and other climate change-induced impacts.
“Whether it’s reducing heat stress or creating jobs in tree planting and maintenance, this grant funding will support local communities and partners who are working on the ground to advance environmental justice by mitigating the impact of climate change on communities who lack tree cover in urban spaces while giving kids more safe spaces to play outdoors,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
This funding was made available to community-based entities, tribes, municipal and state governments, nonprofit partners, universities, and other eligible organizations. This program falls under President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to ensure that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments are dedicated to disadvantaged, marginalized communities that lack vital access to trees and nature.
“I applaud the Biden-Harris Administration for this historic investment in urban forestry and climate resiliency, and I thank the U.S. Forest Service’s leadership team for recognizing the value of investing in the next – more diverse – generation of conservation workers and environmental stewards through Service and Conservation Corps. This investment creates valuable career opportunities for youth and young adults that will allow them to be part of creating a more equitable and climate-conscious future. We are excited to see how Corpsmembers will leave a lasting, positive legacy in their communities.” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network.
“We look forward to working with our member Corps, partners, and champions in Congress to ensure that impactful Corps service projects continue to meet the needs of today’s changing climate. Everyone deserves equal access to nature, and this grant funding will help make that possible for urban communities across America.”
Evidence shows that communities with trees face numerous benefits, including cooler temperatures during periods of extreme heat, increased food security, cleaner air, as well as more economic opportunities. In the past five years, Service and Conservation Corps have planted 4,928,237 trees across the country, bringing both environmental and economic benefits to local communities and public lands.
By creating new Urban and Community Corps programs, this funding will expand the impact of supplement the scope and effectiveness of forestry-focused Corps service projects. Participating Corpsmembers will complete community service projects to improve urban forests and climate change resiliency while developing needed skills in urban forestry and resource management career fields.
Cities and organizations across the country received significant U&CF grants. We urge our members Corps to visit the U&CF 2023 grant funding page to learn more and identify possible opportunities in their communities.