Climate Corps Task Force

Introductions and Agenda Check

Attendance: Kristen Grant, Nathan Robbins, Kate Klibansky, Cameron Wake (guest) UNE, Kirsten Brewer (staff) 

Meet and Greet with Special Guest: Dr. Cameron Wake has recently joined the University of New England as the Director of the Center for North Atlantic Studies. One of Cameron’s initiatives is to launch a Student Sustainability Corps at UNE. We’ll hear briefly from Cameron about his past experiences with service-learning and vision for the Student Sustainability Corps and how it might fit with the Maine Climate Corps.

UNE North Office, focus is on North Atlantic Studies. Focused on North Atlantic, Northern North Atlantic, Artic sector. Maine has a gateway to new north. Approach based on sustainability and sustainable development. 

Sustainability Fellowship has two goals: 
1. Infusing sustainability into curriculum. 
2. Identify and develop more student experiences, founded in sustainability. Sustainability is more than just climate science, bringing in social and environmental justice. 
UNE is positioned well to launch this, already there are typically 4-5 student experiences outside the classroom. Lots of clinical experiences for some students. They intend to build on that practice and integrate on sustainability. 

Dr. Wake is coming from UNH that had the Sustainability Fellowships program. The program identifies external partners who apply to host students. The host must outline the research and activity that the student will do. 

Student will be expected to complete pre-defined deliverables. Once external hosts are identified, then the student applies for the role. Not specific to any 1 external sectors. Businesses, municipal, non-profits are all eligible to host.  

Dr, Wake expects UNE will pay students, this won’t be an unpaid experience. Committed to raising funds to pay those members. At UNH external partners pay for half of cost of Fellow. Expect external partner to write description, provide stipend, participate in interview, so they have buy-in. 

Broader work of UNE North may include partner orgs, including international folks coming to do this work. Will engage the Gulf of Maine Council. 

Focus of the Center is on sustainability that is place-based. Includes Maine and Eastern Canadian Provinces. Work across different government/political systems.

The Sustainability Fellows program at UNE included advisory groups for teams of Fellows. Regular webinars with past Sustainability Fellows. Alumni connections were strong. 

•    Update on Maine Climate Corps Network Recruitment
      o    Five organizations are officially participating in the Maine Climate Corps Network. They are: Downeast Community Partners Climate Corps; Maine Conservation Corps; Island Institute Fellows Program; Friends of Cobbossee Watershed Youth Conservation Corps; and WindowDressers Community Build Program
      o    Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through October. Next meeting (in-person) is in December. 

•    External Funding Update: 
     o    EPA: Two groups reached out about including Maine Climate Corps in their EPA “Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Center” grant applications. The goal of the grant program is to provide technical assistance to under-resourced communities so they can better access federal funding to tackle environmental justice and energy challenges. Both applicants propose developing a program that would participate in the Maine Climate Corps Network and/or leverage Maine Service Fellows, and/or apply for an AmeriCorps grant to complement their efforts. 
     o    NOAA Climate Ready Workforce Funding: $500,000-$2.5 million for 2-4 years. Expectation to train and place individuals into “climate-resilience related jobs”. Estimate that program would provide about $10k per trainee/member. Must be “employer-led” and must include commitments from employers to hire (some) of the graduates of the program. In conversations with Sea Grant and GOPIF regarding a collaboration to access this funding. Note: Energy/mitigation positions are not eligible for this program.
     o    Question for discussion:
           What sectors or group of employers in Maine may have both the need for workers with “climate-informed skills” and be ready to hire? EESI has an explainer on “adaptation and resilience” jobs, if that’s a helpful starting point. Or,
           What worries you when it comes to workforce and our state’s resilience goals? The need for workers in the energy sector is well articulated to meeting our climate goals, what are some obvious gaps when it comes to resilience? Construction workers, planners, folks with GIS or other data skills, accountants, community health workers, something else? 

Kate: organizations need added capacity to apply for more grants. Especially in rural areas. Island Institute provides that service in partnership with other towns and orgs. A lot of towns and organizations find it hard to carve out time, especially for all volunteer orgs. And for businesses. Time and effort on resilience and adaptation, environment where people can continue to invest. 

Big need for jobs such as: financial managers, climate specialists, sustainability coordinators. 

A concern for communities is there ability to implement a grant on a short timeline. They don’t have a lot of capacity to manage small grants and there is a fatigue regarding short-term hires. 

Workforce needs for stormwater are great. Top concern in municipalities. Culverts, parking lots, coastal stabilization practices. Very broad topic area.

An example of a strong program model is PowerCorps in Philadelphia. This is a very tangible program that completes projects and graduates individuals into jobs in the stormwater sector. 

Code Enforcement Officer could use assistants, planning board need assistants. Train on specific aspect of their role, in relation to stormwater for example. 

•    Update: Next month’s meeting: Amanda Dwelley will speak to our task force about equity in reporting requirements. Amanda was the contractor supporting the Climate Council’s Subcommittee on Equity.  
•    October: October 11, Maine Volunteer Leadership Conference. Keynote is Parks and Gardens Director from Juarez Mexico. October 12 AmeriCorps Celebration of Service: Pledge and Project. October 13: Tour with Portland Parks Director and international visitor.