Update 2-28-08: I may have made a mistake. Or maybe this blog influenced Sen. Clinton’s campaign. Although I didn’t find anything about a Green Job Corps on Sen. Clinton’s Web site, the Senator herself talked about implementing this idea at the Houston Presidential Energy Summit, with the Americorps spin I wrote about below.
According to Barack Obama’s environmental platform on his Web site:
Create a Green Job Corps: Obama will create an energy-focused youth jobs program for disconnected and disadvantaged youth. This program will provide participants with service opportunities to improve energy conservation and efficiency of homes and buildings in their communities, while also providing practical experience in important career fields of expected high-growth employment. It will also engage private sector employers and unions to provide apprenticeship opportunities. The program will also work closely with Obama’s proposed Clean Energy Corps to help participants find additional service opportunities after they complete the Green Job Corps.
I decided to ask my good friend Randi Shade, who implemented AmeriCorps in Texas for Governors Richards and Bush, what she thought of Obama’s idea. Incidentally, Randi is running for Austin City Council Place 3 in May.
Shade says, “It is great that Obama wants to build on the AmeriCorps concept – I am assuming he’d build on the existing structure rather than spend a bunch of new money re-inventing the wheel. There are a number of AmeriCorps programs focused on meeting environmental needs while training young people for jobs in the environmental services field.
Randi has several years experience working locally on green community service. She added, “Right here in Austin, American Youthworks runs two of them: 1. Casa Verde Builders is a nationally recognized opportunity for young people to get hands-on construction experience building single-family, energy-efficient, affordable housing in East Austin, and 2. The Environmental Corps (E-Corps) gives young people the opportunity to earn a GED while dedicating several hours a day preserving parks and other public land in the region. When young people complete a year of service in either of these two programs they also receive an education award – money for college or vocational school.”
In both hot and cold climates of the U.S., massive home weatherization efforts for low-income households would go a long way to reducing wasted energy and related greenhouse gases.