A big, bold Civilian Climate Corps (CCC), utilizing the power of national service, has the potential to address the critical issue of climate change while bringing young people together in common purpose. We are advocating for a $30 billion CCC that is equitable, engages diverse Americans, builds more resilient communities, and puts young people on pathways to good-paying climate jobs. Our vision is to make national service part of growing up in America. To achieve this, any investment in the CCC must increase the living allowance and benefits for all national service programs to ensure the opportunity to serve is accessible to all young people.
Status of the CCC
The House made a major $30 billion investment in the CCC in their reconciliation package last fall, which would have built a bold, dynamic CCC that fights fires and hurricanes, supports conservation efforts, reduces home energy costs, and improves community resilience. It would also have lifted the living stipend for all AmeriCorps programs, making national service an accessible opportunity for more young people. The Senate in their slimmed down legislation unfortunately left the CCC out of this summer’s Inflation Reduction Act. Service Year Alliance’s statement on that legislation is available here.
While the CCC funding we’ve been advocating for is not included in the Inflation Reduction Act, the package does include funding for an energy efficiency training program, environmental justice block grants, and additional investments in public lands, forests, and other conservation and mitigation projects that could potentially be used to support climate-related national service efforts. Service Year Alliance will continue to advocate for the expansion of climate resilience national service –and improvements to corps member benefits– through the Partnership for the Civilian Climate Corps, a national network of close to 100 multi-sector organizations pushing for robust investment in climate national service.
Americans Want a CCC that Utilizes National Service
A poll released in May 2022 found that 91% of youth — nearly all — care at least a little about climate change. But they’re in desperate need of answers for how they can help.
The same poll found that 72% of youth are very supportive of a proposed 300,000-member Civilian Climate Corps (CCC) that would mobilize diverse young people to tackle climate challenges through a year of paid national service and put them on pathways to good-paying jobs.
- 38% of young people say they would “strongly” or “maybe” consider joining the CCC.
Two-thirds (65%) of youth ages 18-28 are not sure what they can personally do to make a difference and protect the environment.
- 45% of young people say they would consider doing a service year.
Principles for a Big, Bold Civilian Climate Corps
National service is a tool that can engage hundreds of thousands of Americans in addressing climate change, while serving their country, and building skills necessary for high-demand climate jobs. We need to build a CCC from a place of strength, incorporate new benefits to meet the challenges our nation is facing, and engage a diverse group of rural and urban youth all while maintaining a locally driven approach that is responsive to local needs and provides pathways to growing, and good paying, careers.
The following principles are critical in the development of a new Civilian Climate Corps:
Principle 1: Develop a Unique Identity for the CCC and Maintain an Ethos of Service to Country
Principle 2: Ensure Corps Members are Paid a Living Wage, Develop In-Demand Work Skills on a Path to a Career, and Gain Education Benefits
- Principle 3: Ensure a Diverse Group of Local Corps Members, Community Organizations, and Staff
- Principle 4: Prioritize Local Communities and Build Community
- Principle 5: Target Projects to Address Local and State Needs and Historic Inequities
- Principle 6: Build on the Existing Federal, State, Local National Service System
Principle 7: Utilize Existing Expertise at the Federal, State, and Local Level to Oversee the CCC
- Principle 8: Distribute CCC Funding through Federal, State, and Local Partnerships that Provide for Full Project Costs
Read more about these CCC principles and our corresponding policy recommendations in our joint proposal for the CCC with America's Service Commissions.
Congressional Support for the CCC
Service Year Alliance submitted testimonies with ASC based on our shared vision for the CCC to the Bicameral Senate Climate Change Task Force discussion on Civilian Climate Corps proposals and the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Hearing Examining the Potential for a Civilian Climate Corps.
We are also fortunate to have the support of members of Congress — led by Rep. Neguse (D-CO), Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Ed Markey (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Representatives Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Judy Chu (D-CA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), and Bobby Rush (D-IL) and supported by Senator Schumer (D-NY) and others — calling for many of the same principles for the CCC that we submitted to congressional committees and task forces.
Most recently, 70 US House Members — led by Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Neguse, Chu, Kaptur, and Rush — and signed by 20 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, 10 members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, 13 members of the New Democrat Coalition, and 8 members of the House Committee on Education and Labor sent a second Dear Colleague letter to Speaker Pelosi on September 21st. The letter specifically calls for $30B for the CCC as well as for a flagship AmeriCorps program that is critical to this effort.
Over 120 Labor, Conservation, Youth, National Service, and Racial, Economic, and Climate Justice Organizations Call on Congress to Pass $30B Civilian Climate Corps
We were proud to join 120+ organizations in calling on Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi to invest $30B in a CCC. Congress has the opportunity to mobilize a generation of young people to serve their communities and tackle the climate crisis while developing the skills they need to succeed in a 21st century economy through the CCC.
The letter brings together conservation, labor, youth, and national service organizations as well as racial, economic, and climate justice movements in support of the CCC.
"The Civilian Climate Corps is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put young people into national service to help fight climate change while putting them on pathways to good-paying jobs,” said Kristen Bennett, Chief Strategy Officer at Service Year Alliance.
Service Year Alliance & Sunrise Movement in the New York Daily News: "Enlist young Americans in the fight to stop climate change"
"A modern-day CCC — one that engages diverse Americans, prioritizes resources in underserved communities and puts youth on pathways to jobs and successful futures — can mobilize a generation of young people in the highest-stakes fight of our age. By developing today’s CCC as an interagency program built upon the existing AmeriCorps infrastructure, this idea could become reality quickly and cost-effectively."
For questions about the Civilian Climate Corps, please contact Aly Ferguson at [email protected].