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We’re leading an all-out national mobilization to defeat the climate crisis.

Join our work today to help us build a thriving and just clean energy future. 

Everything You Need to Know About the American Climate Corps

President Biden’s vital new program sets the next generation of diverse leaders on the path to good-paying careers in climate and clean energy

Big News About the American Climate Corps!

The American Climate Corps website and application portal are now live! This historic program will connect 20,000 Americans to careers in climate solutions—and build the workforce we need to lead the global clean energy economy.

Your climate career starts here! Find an American Climate Corps opportunity that’s right for you.



Updated April 22, 2024

The climate movement just celebrated a huge victory—hard-won and years in the making. 

In September 2023, President Biden launched the American Climate Corps (ACC), a new program that will train tens of thousands of young people for high-demand careers in climate and clean energy. 

The ACC is built on the model of the Civilian Climate Corps, first proposed by Gov. Jay Inslee during his run for president. In April 2021, Evergreen expanded on his bold vision and laid out what it would take to build a Civilian Climate Corps. Not soon after, climate champions Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez put forward legislation that brought these policies into the halls of Congress. 

Now, following two years of tireless movement-wide advocacy, it’s back, with a name change. The ACC marks a turning point in the push for good-paying jobs in the clean energy transition—and a reminder we cannot and do not have to choose between the two. 

Here’s what you need to know about the new program and what must come next to ensure it lives up to its bold ambition. 

Blog Post Image - CCC Poster

Poster created by Evergreen in April 2021, when we first called for the Climate Corps.

What Is the American Climate Corps?

The Climate Corps is based on a simple principle: As we tackle the greatest challenge of our generation, the clean energy transition will create millions of jobs in the coming decades. The federal government should pay people livable wages to build the skills required to seize that opportunity. It’s still early days, but here’s what we know about the American Climate Corps so far. 

1. The ACC will train and employ 20,000 people in climate and clean energy jobs

The ACC will mobilize a new, diverse generation by training them in skills crucial to combating climate change—everything from installing solar panels to improving communities' natural disaster resilience to restoring critical ecosystems. And with a shortage of skilled clean energy workers, the ACC couldn’t come at a better time. We need more tradespeople, installing things like electric vehicle chargers and heat pumps, to decarbonize our economy. 

There’s an emphasis on building career pathways, not just jobs. To achieve this, the White House will partner with unions and is committed to providing members with the hard skills and transferable credentials that will allow them to find good-paying jobs or seek further training through apprenticeships and trade schools after their service. This includes potentially expanding access to scholarships and awards that would support post-secondary education and training or reduce student debt and streamlined pathways into civil service. The best part? No prior experience is required for most positions, and very few will require college degrees. 

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2. The ACC prioritizes equity and environmental justice 

While the ACC draws upon the ambition of The New Deal and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps, it also learns from its fundamental flaws. 

FDR’s Corps lacked diversity, perpetuated white supremacy, and almost entirely excluded women, but Biden’s Corps puts equity and environmental justice at its core. It prioritizes communities traditionally left behind, including energy communities, whose lives have been dominated and shaped by the fossil fuel industry, and disadvantaged communities, who disproportionately suffer from a combination of environmental, economic, and health burdens. 

The ACC follows the same targets of the administration’s Justice40 goal, where 40 percent of the benefits must be directed towards disadvantaged communities. 

It’s imperative that investments go into frontline communities and the ACC hires applicants from those same communities, while also engaging local stakeholders in project development. 

Leveraging the talents of all members of society—especially disadvantaged populations—isn’t just a throwaway line on a project plan. It’s essential to the clean energy transition. 

We need skilled clean energy workers in every community, rural and urban, across the country. Those who have suffered historic environmental justices or who are on the frontlines of the climate crisis can now be put to work as leaders in the communities they know best. 

3. The ACC employs an all-of-government approach 

The ACC is built on a hub-and-spoke model with AmeriCorps at the center. The White House is launching a dedicated ACC recruitment website, where participants can learn about and apply for opportunities in their communities, and across the country, that span all spheres of the clean energy economy. 

The administration is partnering AmeriCorps with at least five other federal agencies (Department of Labor, Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Department of Energy) to pool resources, coordinate recruitment, and fund corps members to work on specific projects that address the climate crisis. 

Additionally, the administration will partner with at least 10 states. California, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, and Washington have already launched similar programs, while five more (Arizona, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Utah) are creating their own Corps. 

Blog Post Image - FDR

President Franklin D. Roosevelt made his first visit to a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Shenandoah National Park in 1933. While the American Climate Corps draws upon the ambition of The New Deal and President Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps, it also learns from its fundamental flaws.

What Should Come Next

What we know so far about the ACC is exciting and promising, but there are still lingering unknowns that we need to get right. 

1. Sustainable funding 

The ACC is funded through climate investments across the federal government, and thanks to the billions of dollars in investments coming from the Inflation Reduction Act, it’s likely that this will mean a healthy amount of project funding. 

That being said, national service (like AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and other programs and initiatives) generally draws a line between budgeting funding for people (corps member wages, benefits, and training) and funding for projects (equipment, materials, and other project costs). This raises the question of how much funding will flow to people versus projects and whether there’s sufficient funding to actively sustain and grow both. 

And this isn’t just a question of balancing the books or program design; it’s essential for advocates to know how to best support the program’s implementation, growth, and efficacy. Advocacy in Congress to secure further funding will be critical in the months and years to come. We applaud the White House’s leadership in piecing together existing investments to form the ACC. We also encourage the administration to establish clear funding streams to ensure the ACC’s sustainability and growth through additional appropriations. 

2. A full living wage and good benefits for corps members

While the Biden administration has emphasized that this program will put young people on good-paying career pathways, we don’t actually know exactly what the ACC will pay its incoming 20,000 members or what benefits they will receive. Consistency across the federal and state programs is key, but we’ve seen promising signals so far—the Forest Corps, the ACC’s first announced initiative, will pay its members $15 per hour, along with lodging, transportation, clothing, a living allowance, and health benefits. 

It’s essential that the ACC pays every corps member a living wage with good benefits (like ​​health care coverage and support for child care, housing, transportation, and education) in the long term, especially if it wants to design a program that’s accessible to folks from disadvantaged and diverse backgrounds.

Certain rules at AmeriCorps limit the grants provided per member service year. Those restrictions are a barrier to ensuring a living wage across the board, and the administration must plan around them. The White House should investigate current AmeriCorps grant restrictions and propose administrative fixes before the ACC is rolled out. Congress must back up these efforts by supplementing the funding the White House has already secured and ensuring that every ACC member can be paid a full living wage.

3. Greater accessibility to disadvantaged communities and populations

The White House has already shown that it’s prioritizing investing in disadvantaged communities via corps recruitment and projects by applying its Justice40 to the ACC. 

However, the White House should go further by making more detailed commitments in the program’s design, including a pledge to both direct 40 percent or more of project benefits to environmental justice communities and hire 40 percent of corps members from those same places. Projects should also be developed in conversation with community members to facilitate a bottom-up approach to climate action.

The ACC should be even more inclusive by improving accessibility for people of an even wider variety of backgrounds. Positions should be available to applicants regardless of physical ability, and Congress should amend the National and Community Service Act of 1990 to expand AmeriCorps eligibility to undocumented people. Youth from underserved backgrounds and non-native English speakers should likewise have access to join the ACC. This is partly a matter of program design but also an opportunity for equitable recruitment through outreach to students at trade schools, minority-serving institutions (MSIs), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). The ACC can advance two interlinked goals: advancing environmental and social justice and training a new generation of workers in the climate and resilience economy.

4. Support for unions

The ACC can and must build pathways into good union jobs. That means creating training curricula that provide corps members the skills to secure registered union apprenticeships after their term of service. The ACC should build those career ladders in partnership with union locals, which can shape training courses and even dedicate some of their own members’ time to training ACC members. Those formal relationships could also lead to guaranteed apprenticeship slots for ACC members upon graduation from the corps.

Supporting unions also means upholding AmeriCorps’ non-displacement policy, which would ensure that ACC members never replace union workers on their projects. By taking these steps, the White House can ensure the ACC helps strengthen and grow America’s union workforce for the clean energy transition.

5. Expanded availability across age groups

The launch of the ACC was an exciting day for youth living amid the climate crisis, eager to tackle it head-on. National service opportunities like AmeriCorps, and now the American Climate Corps, are often primarily targeted toward young people, but the ACC should offer expanded availability across all age groups.

The climate crisis is affecting all of us, and people of all ages are eager to get to work tackling our nation’s biggest challenges and building a better future. The ACC presents a unique opportunity for mid-career workers to shift paths, especially those who previously worked in the fossil fuel industry seeking sustainable opportunities in the fast-growing fields of clean energy, conservation, and climate resilience.

This underscores the need for good pay and benefits. ACC membership should provide family-sustaining wages, so parents and mid-career professionals can viably transition into a new career without sacrificing the ability to support themselves and their families.   

6. Growing interagency collaboration

Marshaling resources across six federal agencies will help efficiently deploy ACC members to shovel-ready projects across the country. The opening roster of collaborating agencies is an exciting start, and we’d like to see the administration incorporate more partnerships as the program grows.

Every federal agency has a part to play in mitigating and building resilience against the climate crisis. The administration should eventually incorporate the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Transportation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development into the ACC. President Biden has already demonstrated his commitment to an all-of-government approach and drawing in a more diverse array of agencies will only strengthen his efforts.

7. Building on states’ progress

The ACC announcement came alongside the news that five new states are launching Climate Corps, bringing the national total to ten state Climate Corps. The White House has committed to partnering with those state initiatives, and we look forward to learning more about the ACC’s plans to complement existing efforts.

Because states have built their Climate Corps differently, and with different objectives in mind, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach here. The White House must grapple with questions of how to braid state and federal funding streams, develop common programmatic elements between federal and state initiatives, encourage similar training and pay standards across state programs, and more. Federal-state collaboration holds great potential to build Corps capacity, and the administration should take full advantage of that opportunity.

The American Climate Corps is a true turning point in the fight against climate change. For the first time since the Great Depression, the federal government is mobilizing tens of thousands of people in communities across the country to tackle a national crisis. Americans are ready to build our clean energy future, and an American Climate Corps that invests in our workforce and our communities can help get it done.