April 21, 2024

The long-awaited job board for the American Climate Corps, promised early in the Biden administration, will open next month, according to details shared exclusively with Grist.

The program was modeled after President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps, launched in 1933 to help the country get through the Great Depression. The positions at the new corps could span a number of fields, including installations for energy efficiency, disaster response preparedness, recycling and wildfire mitigation.

The White House plans to officially launch an online platform in April. Initially, only a few hundred jobs will be posted, but eventually it is expected that up to 20,000 young people will be hired in the program’s first year. Interested candidates can apply for the positions through the portal, and the majority of positions are not expected to require experience.

“The American Climate Corps is a story of hope and possibility,” said Maggie Thomas, a special assistant to the president on climate change. “There’s an incredible question mark from young people that we’re seeing put on a path to good paying careers.”

That path could include work such as installing wind and solar power projects, conserving energy in homes and restoring ecosystems, such as wetlands, to protect towns from flooding. Thomas announced a logo for the program at the Aspen Ideas climate conference in Miami on Wednesday.

The White House announced a new logo for the American Climate Corps on Wednesday ahead of the launch of a long-awaited task force next month.
Courtesy of AmeriCorps

The American Climate Corps has broad support, which means those few hundred open spots available next month could fill up quickly. About 71 percent of voters approve the idea, including more than half of Republicans, according to polling Data for Progress conducted last October. And previous polling showed that half of likely voters are under 45 will consider joining the programgiven the chance

That demand was evident during a series of public listening sessions held by the White House earlier this year. The events were oversubscribed and ran over time with attendees eager to sign up for potential positions, Thomas said. Given the demand, President Biden has promised to do so triple the size of the corps in a decade at his State of the Union address last week. His new proposed budget calls for an $8 billion expansion of the American Climate Corps to employ an additional 50,000 corps members per year by 2031.

Still, it’s nowhere close to the dreams some progressives had for the program: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York hoped it would set 1.5 million Americans work to address the climate crisis. Nor is it comparable to the original Civilian Conservation Corps, which hired 3 million men to plant billions of trees, fight forest fires, prevent erosion, and build trails you can still hike today in National Parks.

The current version of the American Climate Corps is in many ways a compromise of Biden’s initial plans to revive that program and update it for the problems of the 21st century. The corps was initially funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, the landmark climate bill that Biden signed into law in 2021. But that funding was stripped from the bill before it passed. As a result, funding for the American Climate Corps had to be pooled from existing funding from seven agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, and the Department of the Interior.

One source of funding for these positions is the $2 billion in community grants for environmental justice awarded to the EPA in November. The EPA awards may possibly used by a grassroots community organization for example, deploying air monitors in neighborhoods, Thomas said. The group can apply for funding from the EPA and then use the money to hire a small team of people through the American Climate Corps website.

“We’ve tried to think creatively about the sources of funds that we bring to the table to ensure that we build justice and equity into the fabric of the American Climate Corps,” Thomas said.

Whether Congress approves Biden’s request for $8 billion to expand the corps is very much up in the air, but Thomas hopes the introduction of the program in the coming months will make its popularity clear.

“Once you see the impact of what the US Climate Corps is going to be in communities across the country, it’s going to be really hard for members of Congress to deny the incredible opportunity that exists with a program like this,” she said. .

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