Like the Roosevelt-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), today’s Service and Conservation Corps provide opportunities for young adults to obtain gainful employment. During the Great Depression, the CCC put young men to work in crews that built parks and completed conservation projects nationwide while providing them with jobs and wages to bring home to their families.
Today, Service and Conservation Corps carry on the legacy of the CCC and continue to have an impact by using a comprehensive model that provides paid work experience and job training through service to almost 30,000 young people annually. In Corps, thousands of Corpsmembers serve on public lands: planting trees, building trails, and combating invasive species. Thousands of others retrofit low-income homes, educate residents about energy savings, or gain training and experience among a substantial range of real-life service assignments, including healthcare, construction, and disaster management. In FY11, Corps reported that 84% of the people completing their programs went on to jobs, further education or both.
Corps offer both a short term answer to extraordinarily high levels of youth unemployment and a long term solution to ensure that every American has the tools needed to succeed in today’s economy. With this model—not only are youth gaining a job immediately—but they are also gaining skills and advancements in education that are needed to secure long-term employment. In addition, while Corps build work-ready young people across demographics, they have proven to be particularly innovative and effective in helping opportunity youth—who presently have extraordinarily high levels of unemployment – make the transition to employment and education.
The Corps model is needed now more than ever. Youth began feeling the effects of the downturn in the economy well before adult unemployment rates began to rise. In 2007, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the youth unemployment rates were the lowest in more than 60 years. At the close of 2008, young adults under the age of 25 constituted fully one third of those of the unemployed in the nation. The Corps Network is embarking on a campaign to promote the role of Service and Conservation Corps as transformative programs and pathways that help lead the young people to personal and economic success.