The Next Generation Climate Corps

Austin Civilian Conservation Corps (ACCC) is the next generation climate Corps. We envision and model a transformed work culture. We prioritize equity in green workforce development and expand the narrative of green vocations. ACCC is hosted by Parks and Recreation and works cross-departmentally and with external partners.

ACCC Group Pictures

ACCC logo

 

ACCC is a program that works across departments and with external partners, that creates and supports pathways into employment and connects mission-aligned networks to form a larger collective, shaping Austin’s green workforce. Each pathway has many collaborators and partners. Currently, our pathways are: natural systems, environmental education, recreation, digital media and communications, museums, arts & culture and zero waste. Within each pathway, there are many more specific programs; some have been around for decades and other programs have been newly initiated.

With these pathways and programs we work to solve workforce gaps and to create better pathways into full time city jobs with leadership potential for those who have been intentionally and systematically excluded. We use a “reciprocal culture change model” as ACCC members gain experience, develop and change, the program collaborators and partners, work to change ourselves, our workplace culture, and change policy and practices.

Ongoing full time & temporary City  positions open here

  Total number of individuals employed/ compensated* # of people offered a position after term Individuals transitioned from ACCC to full time City positions
Fiscal Year 2021 128 did not collect  0
Fiscal Year 2022  82  did not collect  2
Fiscal Year 2023 387 112 10
Fiscal Year 2024 72**

Running Totals  669 112 12

*The time that people were employed or compensated ranges from 1 day to 12 moths depending on program & term

**In middle of term

Vision

We envision and model a transformed work culture in which we,

  • Care for ourselves, others, and the planet;
  • Dismantle supremacist systems that operate upon us and within us; (adapted from Allied Media)
  • Support leadership that represents the communities we live in and collaborate with;
  • Adapt to changing circumstances and address the most pressing environmental and social challenges (currently climate change & displacement).

Mission

Prioritize equity in green workforce development. Expand the narrative of green vocations.

  • Examine and shape change in work cultures;
  • Build more equitable pathways to employment, organizational leadership, and entrepreneurship;
  • Strengthen networks of support for those most impacted by a changing climate;
  • Cultivate and fairly compensate the next generation of leaders;
  • Invest in people and projects that have a direct impact on climate justice

Pathways 

ACCC New  Program Diagram
Natural Systems

The ACCC Natural Systems Pathway has three specific programs: Core Natural Systems Team,  ACCC Crews run by American YouthWorks, and Hungry Hill Foundation pilot. This pathway is aligned with the Climate Equity Plan and Parks and Recreation Department Land Management Plan and contributes to protecting critical ecosystem services and land while gaining experience in forestry, land management, and green stormwater infrastructure. They complete projects on preserves and parkland, mainly in Austin’s Eastern Crescent. Main collaborating departments: Parks and Recreation, Watershed Protection, and Development Services 

Core Natural Systems Team

The Core Natural Systems Team is made up of temporary City employees and full time collaborators who focus on Forestry and Land Management (Story Map)   and Green Stormwater Infrastructure (Story Map). 

Videos

Pathways to employment- ForestryThis video showcases and introduces what the Forestry pathway is and the opportunities that it brings, helping find jobs for its current employees.

ACCC Pathways into Urban Forestry-Climate Equity & Partners This video will act as a way to increase funding for the Urban Forestry pathway to employment model and will show our partners what we’re doing. This pathway and its partners include ACCC, the Urban Forestry Units, and DSD’s Youth.

Pathways to employment- Green Stormwater InfrastructureThis video showcases and introduces Green Stormwater Infrastructure Pathway to employment.  

ACCC Crews run by American YouthWorks

ACCC has partnered with long-time conservation leader American YouthWorks (AYW) and the Texas Conservation Corps. This partnership has enabled American YouthWorks to expand and add more conservation crews, all comprised of Austin residents. Many crew members have successfully transitioned into green jobs thanks to this collaboration, with AYW providing professional development, support services, resources, and job placement assistance. Training focuses on using chainsaws, chippers, and various hand tools.

There are currently two crews in operation:

Eastern Crescent Crew: They work on restoration, erosion control, invasive species management, forest health maintenance, trail/fence construction, and integrated pest management in parks, green spaces, and riparian areas in Austin's Eastern Crescent.

Parks and Preserves Crew: This crew is involved in trail building, wildfire fuel mitigation, invasive species removal, and land management in preserves throughout Austin.

Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVY2jvvWdwE&t=233s 

Hungry Hill Foundation Pilot

Hungry Hill Foundation (HHF) supports East Austin residents on their re-entry journey from unhoused to self-sufficient citizens through a holistic multi-tiered work & apprenticeship program. They seek to establish HHF as a new and more effective model for addressing long-term homelessness that can be replicated within our city, our state, and eventually our country. ACCC supports Hungry Hill sustain existing programs and is developing a program to expose, train & support Hungry Hill clients with conservation knowledge, skills, and experience to further work opportunities. 

Animal Care

Since 1960, Austin Nature and Science Center, has provided hands-on hands-on nature exhibits, education programs, and recreation activities for countless visitors, teachers, and children of all ages that increase awareness and appreciation of the natural environment. ACCC temporary City staff members gain experience providing care for animals, mostly animals native to Texas, and prepare to enter into jobs. 

Environmental Education

The ACCC Environmental Education Pathway has three specific programs: Core Environmental Education Team, Animal Care, and Austin Youth River Watch. This pathway is aligned with the Austin Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights and the Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN) initiative that seeks to create more equitable and abundant access to nature in cities through a partnership between the Children and Nature Network and The National League of Cities Institute.  Members gain skills in environmental education and providing programming. Main collaborating departments: Parks and Recreation, Watershed Protection, and Development Services.

Core Environmental Education Team

Core Environmental Education Team  The Core Natural Systems Team is made up of temporary City employees and full time collaborators who together provide nature programming in recreation centers, playgrounds, parks and other spaces. Members support and facilitate Watershed Protection Department’s Earth Camp, Park Ranger’s Junior Ranger Program , Camacho Activity Center’s Dirt Diva Program,  work directly with recreation centers to lead activities, Development Services Department’s Urban Forestry’s forest related youth programs, and support at many special events like Roots and Wings. 

Environmental Education Story Maps

Austin Youth River Watch 

Austin Youth River Watch (AYRW) provides multi-year after school and summer programs for high school students. We combine peer mentoring with intensive environmental education, and engage youth through nature-based and experiential service-learning programs in environmental science. River Watchers collect, analyze, and publish water quality data from Austin-area streams and rivers. They report their data to local and statewide agencies. River Watchers engage with community partners and local volunteers on environmental restoration and green infrastructure projects. Through these projects, they are actively working with community members to improve environmental conditions, and they learn about potential career paths. River Watchers have opportunities for adventures regularly in our program. We help instill a love of nature in this next generation of environmental stewards by providing experiences in camping, paddling, and a wide variety of other types of outdoor activities. For most River Watchers, these are first-time ever outdoor adventure experiences.  ACCC supports AYRW through providing funding, building a network of support and job opportunities. 

Digital Media & Communications

Core Digital Media Team 

Employs members of the community in communications related to ACCC planning and networking. This pathway is designed to shape the marketing and communication direction of ACCC. The team works to tell the story of ACCC using a variety of tools and technology to produce graphics, photos, videos, website content and more. 

 

Digital Media & Communications Story Maps

Museum, Arts & Culture

Museums Apprentices

Museum Apprentices program helped with projects at different cultural and art sites in Austin, such as Oakwood Chapel, The Susanna Dickinson/O’Henry Museum, Asian American Resource Center (AARC), Zilker Hillside Theater, and Historic Preservation.  This program exposes participants to professional development training, including public speaking, setting values and goals, creating resumes, and practicing interviewing for jobs. Apprentices support in creating exhibits for their sites and in major public events such as Midsommar, Juneteenth, and Pan Am Hillside Concert Series.

Works in Progress

Dougherty Art Center's Works in Progress is an immersive program that prepares teens living in Austin for careers in the arts. Through workshops and networking, students will develop their professional skills, prepare for artistic careers and education beyond school, and meet with industry professionals and working artists. The goal of the program is to encourage students to follow their artistic passions and explore the diverse paths available in the creative industries. WIP members supported Dougherty Arts Center (DAC) camps and public events like the film screening of Yellow Rose and DAC Pride night.

Caminos

Caminos is a program in collaboration with Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (ESB-MACC). Caminantes gain support, career exposure and professional development relating to arts and creative sectors. In addition to training, they help do event production, curate community youth exhibits, produce a teen mental health conference and create digital media programming aimed to serve the ESB-MACC’s mission.

Totally Cool Totally Art (TCTA)

Centralized Program Division’s Totally Cool Totally Art (TCTA) has been cultivating creative teens since 1996. TCTA is unique in that the classes are completely free to Austin's youth teen community. Teens will learn various techniques by working directly alongside professional artists.The program reinforces positive choices by offering art appreciation in a mentoring environment. TCTA is built to help give teens new experiences, build respect and trust, keep them out of trouble during high-risk after school hours and improve their skills in creative expression, communication, teamwork and arts appreciation. ACCC supported a TCTA Theater Internship where the ensemble of teen writers, actors, directors, and crafts created a work that was toured to the youth summer playgrounds and recreation centers. The play included themes about protecting the environment, social justice, advocacy, self expression and self care.  

George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Program

in Development.

 Recreation 

To expand existing Parks and Recreation programs,ACCC provides funding, resources, and support to two programs:

Teens in Leadership Training (TILT) 

is a leadership and job readiness program for students 16-18 years of age. It gives teens the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful employees with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department. TILT members become temporary employees and work for the Summer Playgrounds Program which is a free, drop in program at eight parks that fosters healthy living, character building, and teamwork through collaborative and active play. This summer ACCC and TILT are piloting an expansion of the program to offer TILT members more hours and professional development experience. In the fall, we will pilot an ambassadorship tier with TILT, so that members can retain their jobs in the school year, build their leadership as they build the program and support the next cohort of TILT students. 

Check out the TILT website. 

Roving Leaders 

a program that has been around for many years, helps teenagers develop life and leadership skills, and explore challenging topics that they face every day. They give students the power to make a difference and improve their lives and communities. They provide resources to help young people understand how their environment and habits are connected. They teach problem solving and critical thinking skills. Their philosophy is to improve the lives of teenagers in Austin by offering a range of high-quality recreational, educational, and cultural activities. 

Check out the Roving Leader's website.

Zero Waste

Aligned with the Climate Equity Plan and to support Austin's goal of zero waste by 2040, ACCC collaborates with Austin Resource Recovery to develop programs.

Community PC Internship Program 

ACCC is piloting the Community PC Internship Program. This is a collaboration between Austin Parks and Recreation, Austin Resource Recovery, and Financial Services Department’s Telecommunications and Regulatory Affairs (TARA). Currently, the Community PC Program (CPC Program) takes in retired City and private sector devices, refurbishes those devices, and makes them available to non-profits for public benefit. With the support of interns the existing will allow the program to process more devices. Interns will gain training in computer refurbishment, mentorship, and support in entering into their next jobs.  

Bike maintenance and repair

and “reuse house” are in the development stages

Networks  

Emerging Green Leaders 

(EGLs, previously called Youth Leadership Working Group YLWG) is a group of City and nonprofit youth and organization leaders who imagine an Austin in which young people can easily access careers in outdoors, nature, & the environment, are fairly compensated for their contributions, and that the field, and leadership within, represents the communities we serve. ACCC coordinator, specialists and members are involved with the leadership of this group and the events that happen year round. Folks in the Check out the website  Youth Leadership Working Group (YLWG) 

City’s Equity Network

https://www.austintexas.gov/department/equity-office 

Green Workforce Accelerator

https://www.austintexas.gov/article/green-workforce-accelerator 

Green Workforce Collective 

 

Research & Reports 

Research

In 2022 ACCC partnered with Build with Humanity and MEASURE. These two organizations are owned and operated by people of color with strong ties within communities of color as well as other underserved groups that may realize significant benefits from participating in the ACCC, but who often face barriers to accessing such programs.These two research initiatives is helping ACCC to build an understanding of the program’s potential users, their current and potential future needs, their desires for income and career training, and their current and potential future barriers to participation. .In addition to these partnerships, ACCC collaborated with the University of Texas’ School of Architecture’s Community and Regional Planning Program to provide a framework for defining green jobs within the local context and to provide an outline of current and future green job growth. This report will help to shape the long term potential pathways of growth for future ACCC investment. These three reports will guide the programmatic outcomes of ACCC.

What Works in Works Programs: Building Equity in the Austin Civilian Conservation Corps  conducted by MEASURE’s Shadeequa (Dee) Miller and Janis Bookout. This report provides historical context to workforce development and provides recommendations for the ACCC program to reduce barriers for participants.  MEASURE used equity focused focus groups and an online survey to better understand the needs, desires and barriers experienced by communities most impacted by the pandemic in order to improve ACCC. The summary of this report’s finding is detailed in the research section. Key take-aways and findings:

  • Offer sick leave and paid time off
  • Strengthen job placement support
  • Build more relationships with community organizations
  • Offer more programs based on interest
  • Implement case management and make career advancement a structured part of the program
  • Include representative program participants and members of the targeted community in planning meetings
  • Ensure that program leadership should be able to relate to the population served
  • Collaborate with program partners to re-evaluate their roles in the program

Lived Experience & the Austin Civilian Conservation Corps  by Build with Humanity presents a systems map of the current economic conditions facing Austin communities including micro, meso, and macro level drivers. The recommended points of integration provide effective avenues for service focused on the intersection of workforce development, sustainable development and COVID-19 pandemic recovery. This report provided a system mapping framework to better inform the design of ACCC to center equity and to address community workforce needs, The goals of system mapping in this report are to:

  • Define core elements of the problem(s) being tackled by the ACCC (community sustainability, employment, and workforce development)
  • Define and explore relationships between elements within the current employment system that serves the ACCC’s target audience.
  • Prioritize and affirmatively target key points of leverage to understand opportunities to make ACCC more effective
  • Scope the domain(s) of exploration we intended to pursue in our lived-experience research with the communities we serve.

Expanding Pathways to Quality Jobs in Austin’s Growing Green Economy (PDF) - This report released in the summer of 2022, will assist with future analysis of workforce sectors for green job growth. This study also included a Photovoice research methodology which gathered first hand experiences of ACCC members in the field to help inform future programmatic design to address participant needs.

Green Workforce Accelerator Program: Capacity Building for Advancing Partnerships

In the fall of 2021, the City wanted to expand the number of types of potential partner organizations with programs that align with the ACCC goals and mission, and that inform strategic outcome areas, indicators, and metrics of the City’s Strategic Direction 2023 (SD23). Through the Green Workforce Accelerator, the ACCC has partnered with the City of Austin Office of Innovation to support organizations and businesses that want to expand their current capacity or build new programs that can employ Austinites, develop their career opportunities, and advance positive sustainability and resilience outcomes.

  • We know that there are social entrepreneurs and innovative organizations in Austin who are developing solutions that could work with or alongside the ACCC and make our collective impact even stronger. That’s why we’re investing $10,000 in each participating organization to further develop their solutions and create evidence around how they may work with or alongside the ACCC.
  • Grant Details-Grant awardees will validate whether their solutions can align with and help achieve the mission and goals of the ACCC, and what their relationship with the program might be. The grant award of $10,000 is meant to give organizations support as they focus on developing their solution, and add capacity to gather evidence on potential ACCC and SD23 alignment. Throughout the accelerator, organizations will gather evidence around the following lines of inquiry:
  • How might your solution contribute to the mission and goals of the ACCC? To the outcome areas, indicators, and metrics in SD23?
  • How might your solution work alongside, or with, government?

Grant awardees will provide the City of Austin ACCC program with a midterm progress report and a full report at the end of the accelerator. Reports should include knowledge, results, and evidence like:

  • Development milestones
  • Project outcomes
  • How your solution is contributing SD23 strategic outcomes, indicators, and metrics, and the ACCC mission and goals
  • Advancement or continuation of racial equity goals in advancing green workforce development within your organization or in your product or service delivery
  • Evaluation methods and results
  • User feedback and results
  • Key learnings and next steps
  • Budget synopsis

If you think your solution might align with the ACCC, we encourage you to submit an application.

Apply for the Grant

Background & Our Story

On May 7, 2020 the Austin City Council approved Resolution No. 20200507-061 . This resolution created the Austin Civilian Conservation Corps (ACCC) as a re-employment and workforce development program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. ACCC was inspired by the original Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) of the 1930s, which was part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal work programs. However, the ACCC acknowledges the CCC was rooted in systemic racism and perpetuated unequal outcomes and has created a program that centers equity. 

In its first pilot year, ACCC created jobs for 100 individuals over 11 different projects. In 2022, ACCC transitioned to the Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) to continue cross-departmental collaboration. Since the transition to PARD, ACCC has an expanded  programmatic focus beyond pandemic response to address the overarching strategy of expanding green jobs through workforce development as outlined in the Austin Climate Equity Plan adopted in September of 2021. ACCC prioritizes working with communities who have been historically most impacted by extreme weather and will continue to bear the brunt of impacts as climate change accelerates, including low-income communities, those experiencing homelessness, and BIPOC (black indigenous, and people of color) communities. 

ACCC has added pathways into employment within the City of Austin (COA) to expand workforce opportunities to include the COA’s own critical workforce needs. We currently have 52 additional  ACCC members and specialists who are completing green job exposures and training pathways internal to the city of Austin.  ACCC is also working within various departments to align current workforce needs with the current and future pathways of ACCC programming. 

We have hopes of the program becoming permanent. However, we see the next 1.5 years as a time to trailblaze: strengthen relationships, catalyze culture change, establish new processes,  jumpstart certain programs, expand access, and provide employment to those most impacted by climate change.