On September 20, President Biden issued an Executive Action to deliver on an Executive Order from 2021 to mobilize the next generation of conservation and resilience workers through the American Climate Corps (ACC). Modeled after the existing network of conservation corps, the ACC is a national service and training initiative to address local needs related to climate change and conservation , and to develop those who are willing to serve into diverse, skilled leaders. The ACC will provide 20,000 Americans with opportunities to serve in their own communities, working on a wide range of environmental projects including reforestation, flood and wildfire mitigation and prevention, and energy efficiency plans.
The ACC is an interagency partnership between AmeriCorps, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Departments of Agriculture (USDA), Energy (DOE), Interior (DOI), and Labor (DOL). The AmeriCorps agency, which has been designated hub for the ACC, and has been focused on climate resilience, conservation, and disaster response for years. In fiscal year 2022, AmeriCorps dedicated more than $117 million to these efforts – a 20% increase over the previous year.
One of the first partnerships under the ACC is between AmeriCorps and the US Forest Service to establish a new AmeriCorps NCCC Forest Corps. This is a five-year, $15 million interagency agreement, and the first cohort of 80 AmeriCorps NCCC members will begin their service in the summer of 2024.
The ACC will also leverage historic investments through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act to partner with existing and new conservation corps to engage young adults in conserving and restoring our lands and waters, deploying clean energy, and implementing energy efficient technologies.
Currently celebrating its 30th year anniversary, AmeriCorps is also well suited as it manages to bring together many entities in its programs, including nonprofits, local government, foundations, and the private sector.
These announcements come as there have been many devastating climate-related events recently, that AmeriCorps service members have been on the front lines to help respond to in communities nationwide. Just last year, 14,500 AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers served in conservation efforts, preserving and protecting upwards of three million acres of state and national parks, training hundreds of thousands of Americans in conservation and energy efficiency, and restoring thousands of miles of waterways. But as the needs grow, Congress has yet to put forth a proper fiscal year 2024 appropriations proposal that would adequately fund – and increase resources for – AmeriCorps.
To learn more about the American Climate Corps, please see these links:
- White House Fact Sheet about the American Climate Corps
- AmeriCorps Press Release: President Biden Launches the American Climate Corps, Announces new AmeriCorps NCCC Forest Corps
- Voices for National Service Statement on the Biden-Harris Administration’s Executive Action