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Climate Corps could open doors to job opportunities in Appalachian PA

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Danielle Smith, Public News Service

The American Climate Corps seeks to create 20,000 jobs related to conservation, climate issues and clean energy.

The program originated by the Biden administration is still being developed but organizations in Appalachia believe it could provide many young people in the area with good-paying employment opportunities.

Kayleigh Del Cotto, director of strategic partnerships for LandForce, an employment social enterprise nonprofit organization that combines workforce development with environmental stewardship. She said the organization is unique in its ability to pay wages during all phases of transitional employment, including training people 18 and older.

“Over the last eight years, 52% of our crew members have fallen very neatly within the age range of the American Climate Corps,” Del Cotto reported. “Given a recent expansion that we’re going through, we can now have two cohorts, so we will naturally be able to start hiring a second crew in June.”

Del Cotto noted the initiative offers job opportunities to marginalized individuals who have traditionally faced barriers to employment, while providing them with the necessary skills and support systems “to step into their power” and attain long-term sustainable jobs to support their families.

Annie Regan, director of digital communications for ReImagine Appalachia, said not only could the initiative bring jobs to a region hard-hit by the opioid crisis and unemployment but participants will also receive paid training, opening the doors to opportunities for employment in both the public and private sectors.

“We’re seeing similar trends in today’s economy with folks not being able to find jobs, climate change, exasperating our impacts,” Regan acknowledged. “Of course, we want younger folks to have these jobs, too, and to have pathways to apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs and working with our unions.”

The climate corps is modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Depression-era program launched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to alleviate high unemployment among young men. The White House said the Climate Corps aims to attract individuals from diverse backgrounds and disadvantaged communities to work in climate-related sectors.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.