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  • Writer's pictureActive Allies team

A “Course-Correct Corps” Can Start in California & Get Young Adults Essential Jobs

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

Our top priority between now and November is to ensure a fully free and accessible election. That focus isn’t stopping some of us from starting to prepare now for the tidal waves of energy and innovation to come. We’ll need to respond at the speed, scope, and scale that match our challenges.

Let’s imagine, just for a second, that we win.

The advocates for effective responses to our crises sweep the national election. In early 2021, we celebrate a new President, Congress, governors, and state legislators, who are guided by science and solidarity. They’re real leaders who understand that to achieve a real democracy, they must immediately ally with grassroots movements for social, economic, and environmental justice.

We propose a Course-Correct Corps to provide a basic income to millions of young Americans as they start their work lives. They will be a new category of “essential” service and care workers as they defend, repair, and regenerate communities across our country. The Course-Correct Corps will be a supercharged 21st-century version of the New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

As in 1933, we have no time to waste.

Once we have a federal administration grounded in reality, we’ll be catching up to help hard-hit communities swiftly get what they need for public health and climate justice. An understanding of these needs and resources can emerge from local groups, including the mutual aid networks sprouting up in so many places.

To refresh your memory about the precedent that inspires us, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began a mere 40 days after FDR’s inauguration. It put three million unemployed Americans, aged 17-28, to work on environmental conservation projects. (It was for men only, and though it included African Americans and Native Americans, it only began to challenge segregation.) That set the stage for the even larger Works Progress Administration (WPA), which employed nine million Americans, mainly to modernize and expand infrastructure. Now we need a 21st- century, equitable version of the CCC and the WPA.

Like the New Deal’s creators, we’re aiming high.

Here’s how it could happen. So far, Active Allies has a proof-of-concept in the Bay Area, with a handful of Climate Project Manager candidates, some already working on their projects and others awaiting sponsorship to begin. As we gain momentum, we’ll build support to launch a pilot Course-Correct Corps across California.

We’re working to gain support for the California pilot from entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and companies, through the Active Allies Fund we’re establishing. One of the CCC’s first priorities can be fire protection and resilience through solar-powered homes and plug-in cars in low-income communities at the wildlife-urban interface.

The new CCC could really take off.

As awareness and enthusiasm grow, we envision CA Governor Newsom saying:

  • “Given our fiscal challenges, we’re grateful to members of the public who’ve stepped up to provide year-one funding for the first group of young adults as essential workers to help our communities.

  • We support the Course-Correct Corps because it’s based on scientific criteria for inventories of needs, and helps entire communities. We’re confident it can get bi-partisan support as it grows from a pilot project to a government program.

  • As we work to evolve this into a publicly-funded program, we invite other states or localities to consider the pilot as a testbed and to talk with us about having their own Course-Correct Corps wherever they are.”

California, as the world's fifth-largest economy, could be a compelling model for a national program, for which legislators in Congress could introduce and fast-track a bill. It could be bipartisan as community advocates and campaign activists pointedly ask incumbents and candidates, “Will you support putting 500 local young adults in your District to work on public health and climate justice?" (They’ll be ready with specific lists of priority jobs.)

Media will interview unemployed young people, many of them recent graduates, who can’t wait to get started. At public forums, politicians who can answer, "Yes, I’m supporting my state’s young people” will show they’re thinking ahead. Naysayers who try to dismiss science and the needs of their community as partisanship or fake news will have a harder time looking like they’re on voters’ sides.

Can you join us?

We’re recruiting supporters and part-time team volunteers, especially for the core Active Allies project, and for a team to start laying the groundwork for a California Course-Correct Corps. Let's talk.


This is one of four blog posts announcing the launch of Active Allies:

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