This week we’re celebrating AmeriCorps week, and for Farallon Strategies, this is a great time to recognize the amazing momentum around climate and service going on in this country.
We, like many others, want to pause and recognize the commitment of the millions of Americans who have chosen to serve their country through AmeriCorps service. We are proud to have and still support some of the 250,000 Americans each year who dedicate their time and passion to “getting things done” for our country.
AmeriCorps is a particularly powerful tool for climate action and for bringing a divided people together. Even though momentum in D.C. has stalled for launching the Civilian Climate Corps there’s still a lot going on that is demonstrating the power of service to tackle climate change. There’s many programs that have been working on this front for years from our friends at CivicSpark (now in their 8th year in California and currently expanding to Colorado and Washington, to Minnesota’s Greenest Region Corps, to the well established network of conservation corps who have been on the frontlines of climate action for decades.
At the same time, this space is booming with innovation and creative ways for Americans’ to get involved in climate service. Not surprisingly, California has a lot going on. Under the #CaliforniansForAll banner, California Volunteers – the Governor’s service and volunteering arm – recently launched the #CaliforniansForAll Youth Jobs Corps and #CaliforniansForAll College Corps. These two programs are designed to offer meaningful service, career opportunities, and reduced college debt to thousands of Californians – including AB540 eligible Dreamers. But before you shake your heads at dreamy lefty California, we want to be clear that while California may be going big, they are by no means going it alone. A number of states are fielding or expanding climate focused service programs and initiatives. Colorado is supporting a multipronged strategy to address climate change to advance the Governor’s climate goals. Maine just laid out a comprehensive Climate Corps strategy for their legislature. Pennsylvania is embarking on a new Delaware River Climate Corps, the region’s first climate resiliency program that would hire workers from underserved communities and train them in conservation and other green careers. Florida prioritized climate resilience in its latest solicitation for AmeriCorps programs. And this is just a sampling of recent activity, there are so many programs expanding or launching to tackle climate change through service all across the country.
So climate service has clearly caught the public’s imagination and we’re seeing a ton of momentum across the country, but why is service like this so important to the climate movement?
The work that these individuals accomplish, the connections they make, the relations they build over the coming years will help America today and help us embrace the future we have created and help us chart a course to a better future. Here at Farallon Strategies, we’re believers in this movement because we’ve had the profound pleasure over the last ten years of supporting the launch and growth of such programs across California and the country. We’ve seen what happens when you open the door and give people an opportunity to make a difference. We’ve seen the benefits for those individuals; the leadership, the professionalism, the growth, the connections they make with each other and with the communities they are serving. We’ve seen how it charts a course for their future that lasts for years. We’ve seen them accelerating their step into leadership positions in the public sector, in nonprofits, the private sector. All the while building a community of practice that understands the urgency and the opportunity before us.
At the same time, we’ve been blown away by the impact it has on the organizations they serve and their communities. Beyond the reports, plans, projects, and programs they build and implement, these individuals bring new energy, vitality, ideas, enthusiasm that also have ripple effects. Their service helps change the way these organizations think about and engage with their communities around climate. It also changes the way they think about the role that young people can play in the work that they’re doing. And it brings a vigor and vitality to this work that is sorely needed.
So on this AmeriCorps week 2022, let’s celebrate all the amazing people and organizations tapping the power of service to address climate change, but let’s also set our sights on the future because there’s a lot of work to be done.
There’s work to be done to help shape these programs so that they are effective, that they create real opportunity, that they really build leadership, that they are directing the people and resources to the communities that need them the most and bringing up that leadership from within those communities. What we really want from a Federal Civilian Climate Corps, or any local or state Corps program, is the lasting ripple effect as programs unlock and lift up opportunities from rural to urban communities, from red to blue states and all across the many important sectors like wildfire prevention, flood management, energy conservation, renewable energy, electric vehicles, and more.
There’s a role to play for a Civilian Climate Corps in all of this but we need to have a plan. We need to bring a lot of people together to think creatively and inspirational about what this can be and then open the doors, turn on the lights, and get to work.
For more on Farallon Strategies’ work on national service initiatives and fellowship programs, please contact Kif Scheuer at firstname.lastname@example.org