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The Corps Network Launches Moving Forward Together Initiative to Increase Presence of Young People of Color in Conservation and Resource Management Jobs
With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The Corps Network to develop tools to educate Corps community and resource management agency staff about historic and ongoing barriers to engaging non-white populations in America’s conservation workforce, and empower them to address these barriers.
WASHINGTON, DC (April 5, 2017) – The Corps Network, the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps, has launched the Moving Forward Together initiative to address issues of bias, structural racism, and awareness that limit the employment of people of color in America’s resource management workforce.
This initiative builds on the work started at The Corps Network’s 2017 National Conference, Moving Forward Together. Over the next three years, The Corps Network will develop and distribute resources to educate Corps participants, Corps staff, the staff of The Corps Network, and staff at America’s federal resource management agencies about unconscious bias, structural racism, and ways to address barriers to employment in conservation for people of color. The goal is to create an atmosphere – among both potential employees and employers – that will promote hiring young people of color into resource management jobs. This initiative is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, MI.
A disproportionate percentage of people employed in America’s conservation and resource management jobs are white, male, and nearing retirement. People of color comprise only 20 percent of the federal land management workforce. Additionally, nearly 30 percent of the federal land management workforce is eligible for retirement, creating questions about how to refill these positions. The situation is similar at state and local agencies as well.
The Corps Network is in a unique position to address this situation. Every year, the more than 130 member organizations of The Corps Network engage over 25,000 diverse young adults in service projects that often involve conservation-related work on public lands and waters. Roughly half of Corps participants in 2016 identified as non-white. Through their service, Corps participants gain work experience and develop in-demand job skills that can translate into careers with resource management agencies.
“America’s public lands and waters belong to all of us, but the diversity of America is not currently reflected on the staff of our forests, parks, and preserves. With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The Corps Network looks forward to working with our Corps and our partners at resource management agencies to address this underrepresentation,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, CEO of The Corps Network. “With proper guidance and tools, we believe Corps and staff at resource agencies can begin to alleviate current barriers to employment for youth of color. As a result of this initiative, we hope to see change in our Corps, our Corpsmembers, and our partners with regard to their awareness about bias and how it affects hiring practices and access to the outdoors.”
Through the Moving Forward Together initiative, The Corps Network plans to offer toolkits, webinars, training videos, and other resources that will, 1.) Inform Corps participants, Corps staff, and the staff of agencies that partner with Corps about unconscious bias and structural racism; 2.) Assist Corps and agencies in addressing barriers to employment that developed due to unconscious bias and structural racism; 3.) Help young adults in Corps learn about and apply to jobs with resource management agencies; and 4.) Help resource management agencies develop opportunities and create a more aware, welcoming environment for youth of color.
To carry out this initiative, The Corps Network will engage an expert in the field of racial equity to provide knowledge and oversight. Additionally, The Corps Network plans to establish a committee of representatives from Corps and federal resource management agencies to offer guidance and help champion this initiative on the ground. Those interested in participating in this committee can contact The Corps Network.
About The Corps Network
The Corps Network provides leadership and support to over 130 of America’s Service and Conservation Corps. Through advocacy, access to funding opportunities and expert guidance, The Corps Network annually enables over 25,000 Corpsmembers, ages 16-25, to strengthen communities, improve the environment and transform their lives through service.
To learn more about The Corps Network, please visit www.corpsnetwork.org.
About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.
The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.
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