Climate Corps Task Force: March 2023

In attendance: Kirsten Brewer, Stacie Haines, Morgan Rielly, Kate Klibansky

Legislative Update:

Public Policy Task Force is planning outreach to the AFA Committee regarding LD 142. 

Bill has not yet been reported out. Will not know likely until day off if there will be a Climate Corps roll call.

Volunteer Maine staff have created a draft Climate Corps “one-pager”. A physical flyer/hand out with the objective of reaching both future participants, potential program sponsors, and policymakers/funders.

TF members suggested making the “umbrella visual” stronger to convey that this was a network/set of programs that were independent but coordinated.

Also suggested creating two smaller documents, one strongly targeted at potential members, and another targeted at potential sponsors. The third can be more general “background info” for policymakers/funders, though that will likely need to be a targeted pitch for a specific funder.

Suggestion to add testimonials/stories.

Report from the Corps Network Conference March 7-9, Kirsten and Morgan both attended.  

Kirsten was on a panel discussing Climate Corps models alongside the Colorado Service Commission, NC Conservation Corps, and the Colorado Association of Youth Corps. Each are in different phases of Climate Corps launch. Providing context and update on national context. 50+ states so many different models. Positive discussion – nice to highlight Maine – Climate Corps reports passed out.

Overall, at the  a lot of Federal Agencies in attendance – including Environmental Justice Director at EPA and National Parks Youth Programs Director. Sandy Scott, AmeriCorps Senior Advisor, was there. Message of funding coming through and way to spend money – youth corps as a way to do community engagement.

Strong (but not exclusive) Western emphasis, particularly with USFS around fire landscapes. However, USFS is interested in funding beyond the USFS system, targeting programs in more populated areas as a workforce development strategy.

Opportunity to also collaborate with NPS staff delivering youth and volunteer programs in Maine.

American Forests: big focus on tree equity, supporting apprenticeships with underrepresented communities. Additionally, they have a “pre-employment” curriculum that any conservation corps can access. Helps prepare participants for  jobs or apprenticeships in the tree-care industry.

Additional business

Discussion on potential Federal Funding opportunities, both from TCN conference and a recent presentation with Evergreen Action.

Environmental and Climate Justice Block Grants - $3 billion in grants and technical assistance to community-based organizations to execute climate and environmental justice projects of their design, including efforts to reduce air pollution, improve pollution monitoring, support community resilience, and build capacity to engage with the state and federal decision-making process.

Learned at conference that EPA plans to release some of that funding to national grantmakers who can make smaller grants, because many community based organizations do not need $1m+, they need smaller amounts like $100k. Technical assistance hubs will also be launching in each EPA region: Frontline communities can go and get direct support and learn how to access funding.

Environmental Justice Government to Government is open. Opportunity to fund an Energy Navigator type program.

IRA Funding through Community Forest Program to Maine Conservation Corps is a strong example of how Corps programs can support IRA goals and leverage new funding.

Opportunity to access funding to implement a Lead By Example program, for example a Service Corps could also be a registered apprenticeship with a focus on renewable energy/weatherization of public buildings. Do need a nonprofit partner to be the lead. Perhaps an industry association/trade group could play that role?

A major IRA opportunity is that Clean Energy Tax Credits will now be available as direct payments to governments/non-profits, could be a sustained funding stream for a Corps.  

Unions are also eligible to run programs, could be another partner to engage.

Lots of federal funding opportunities, but harder to move quickly without an existing program. AmeriCorps planning grants are about to open. Hopeful we will see applicants focused on Climate Corps priorities.  

Will continue to recruit new Task Force members.

Also will look at inviting a guest speaker to Task Force in spring to focus on relationship building.

Kirsten will be attending a State Department Seminar in May, on the theme of municipal climate resilience and inclusion. Looking forward to sharing the story of the Maine Climate Corps and how service is a solution. Will also be listening for other examples/models we can learn from.