The Maine Climate Corps is a strategy to help meet the ambitious goals in Maine's climate action plan. It is structured as a set of programs because climate actions cover such a wide-ranging set of activities.
- A Brief History
The Maine Climate Corps was a recommendation in Maine Won’t Wait, the State’s Climate Action Plan, under Strategy E: Engaging Maine’s People and Communities. This Plan was approved by Maine’s Climate Council in 2020.
In 2021, the Legislature directed Volunteer Maine to examine the opportunity for a Climate Corps and make recommendations on its focus and structure. In January 2022, the report, Maine Climate Corps: Inspired by History. Designed for Today, was submitted to the Legislature's Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. The eight recommendations addressed three areas:
- How best to structure the program;
- What existing service programs might serve as the foundation;
- What public and private partnerships could be created to accomplish the program goals.
Later in 2022, LD 1974 formally added the Climate Corps to Volunteer Maine's authorizing statute and set standards for operation and focus.
The Commission’s Research and Evaluation Task Force was charged with overseeing the development of the Corps. In 2023 the Climate Corps Task Force was formed to provide ongoing oversight of the program.
- Climate Corps Program Activities
Maine Climate Corps programs take action in 8 areas:
- coastal zone
- land and freshwater preservation
- community resilience
- public health
Service activities range from public education to adaptations or mitigation of the impact of climate change. The research around Maine's Climate Corps development identified the top 5 activities ready for service corps as community resilience planning, energy education, home energy conservation and management, emergency management community assistance, and modernizing/updating buildings.
Woven into the service corps are development of skills, knowledge, and abilities in the Corps members so their service and training lead to employment when their term ends. Corps members who serve full-time for a year put in 1700-1800 hours, earn a living allowance, and are covered by health insurance.
Engaging community residents as volunteers is another Corps activity. This component builds community buy-in, allows communities that otherwise would not have the capacity to address issues to tackle them, provides workforce development opportunities for a changing employment landscape, and engages the community in ways that traditional employment cannot.
Throughout Corps' operations there is an emphasis on ensuring vulnerable and disadvantaged communities have opportunities to serve in a Corps and benefit from Corps' service.
- Funding for Maine Climate Corps Programs
The primary funding source for new Maine Climate Corps programs is Volunteer Maine's existing AmeriCorps grants which are highly competitive. As other opportunities are uncovered, the Commission will work to increase financial resources for new programs. Grant competitions are posted on the Grant section of this site.
Non-profits, government agencies, faith-based organizations, educational institutions, and labor groups are all eligible to apply to sponsor a program (For-profit groups are not eligible to sponsor, though they may partner with the program by offering training or providing other resources). A sponsoring organization receives a grant from Volunteer Maine to partially support their program.
The sponsor, in collaboration with like-minded community groups, develops the service model, recruits and manages members, offers training and member development opportunities, and reports back to Volunteer Maine on deliverables.
The 130th Maine State Legislature (2021-2022) allocated a small amount of state funding for a Maine Climate Corps program. This funding prioritized the focus areas of energy education and outreach along with home energy conservation management. In 2022 a grant was awarded to Downeast Community Partners to support four members for seven months.
See our grants page for information about upcoming competitions or reach out to the Climate Corps Coordinator with questions
- My organization needs just “one” Climate Corps member
Be in touch with the Commission office! By definition, Corps are teams of members and do not exist as single placements. Still, there are climate-action programs that assign individual corps members to partnering organizations. We may be able to connect you to one of them. Additionally, we can help you network with like-minded organizations that may be interested in forming a coalition to stand up a full program in Maine to support your needs. Our office also provides training and support to help organizations develop their essential volunteer business practices, the foundation to any service corps program.
- Connect to stay up-to-date
Subscribe to the Climate Corps news bulletin. Access Sign-up Form
Connect with the Commission Climate Corps Coordinator, Kirsten Brewer (email@example.com or call 207-624-7792).