PRESS RELEASE—With a new AmeriCorps program called CivicSpark, California is poised to take the next step in its efforts to tackle the effects of climate change. Working in local projects across the state, CivicSpark members will contribute more than 60,000 hours of support to approximately 100 climate-action projects throughout the year.
CivicSpark is led by the Local Government Commission in partnership with the State of California (through the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and CaliforniaVolunteers) and a network of nine regional organizations that stretches from San Diego to the North Coast.
CivicSpark will receive nearly $2 million over three years from the federal Corporation for National and Community Service to bring much-needed cost-effective services to California communities.
ln the North Coast, CivicSpark will work alongside its regional partner, the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate climate resiliency by building capacity in communities that need it most.
The group has already begun to identify local participants, and selected projects for the North Coast and communities north of the Bay Area and Sacramento are expected to launch later this month. The year-long projects will run through mid-September 2015.
“Climate change is a global challenge that requires strong, sustained local action,” said California Governor Jerry Brown. “This program gets young people into communities across California to help reduce emissions and boost energy efficiency.”
With its robust policies and programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and foster community resiliency, California is a climate-change pioneer. However, state agencies can’t achieve long-term climate-change goals alone.
“Local governments are instrumental in meeting state climate and energy goals aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Kate Meis, executive director of the Local Government Commission.
“Local governments are able to make a significant impact by engaging businesses and residents on energy and climate-action efforts,” said Matthew Marshall, the Redwood Coast Energy Authority’s executive director. “CivicSpark will catalyze projects that provide North Coast communities with a range of benefits that develop our economy, improve our air and water quality, reduce consumption of natural resources, and divert more of our waste.”
CivicSpark focuses on projects that fill key local gaps, provide fundamental information, and spur a wide range of sustainability initiatives, including community education about climate change, benchmarks for energy use in commercial buildings, electric-vehicle readiness planning and local greenhouse gas emissions inventories.
With this assistance, participating local governments can develop capacity for sustainability measures and climate-change responses, a pipeline for future sustainability efforts, and a workforce with local expertise in climate change, energy and sustainability.
“CivicSpark is creating a model of climate action in California. The action that takes place here at the state and local level provides a model to countries across the world for how economies can be expanded while emissions being reduced,” said Wade Crowfoot, Deputy Cabinet Secretary and Senior Advisor to the Governor. “CivicSpark is well-named, because if effective it will be a catalyst to expand climate action throughout the state. We are looking to CivicSpark members to move the needle and take California to the next stage of its climate action efforts.”
Each year, CivicSpark will train and support five AmeriCorps members to implement clean-energy projects, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard against climate-change impacts, prepare climate-change curricula and implement sustainable community strategies.
Regional partners will provide capacity-building support to local governments through their research, planning and implementation activities, and help engage local volunteers in CivicSpark and other sustainability initiatives.
“The program provides a unique opportunity for emerging professionals to work with local governments and communities on essential climate response efforts,” said Ken Alex, director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.
The North Coast contingent for 2014-15 includes Robert Douglass, Drew Clark, Hanah Nielsen, Stephen Luther and Kelly Wheeler. Regional Supervisor Larry Goldberg will guide the team as one of CivicSpark’s Encore Fellows.
“I’m really impressed by this team of well-qualified and passionate young professionals,” Goldberg said. “Their generation will most experience the consequences of climate change, so it’s fitting that they should be the leaders who help communities develop strategies to mitigate and adapt to the changes ahead.”
“CivicSpark leverages the unique power of national service to build local government climate capacity statewide, and will help local governments develop the programs, relationships and skills needed to mobilize California’s climate-change response,” said Karen Baker, CaliforniaVolunteers Chief Service Officer. “They will also have the opportunity to grow as environmental stewards committed to the values of service and knowledgeable about local needs and responses.”
California cities, counties, tribal governments and other regional public agencies are well-positioned to make a real difference in responding to climate change.
“Because the Redwood Coast Energy Authority is already engaged in existing climate efforts and has broad stakeholder networks we can provide regional understanding and support to member teams,” Marshall said. “CivicSpark engages our local governments, facilitates sharing of experiences and information, and leverages resources and opportunities to increase our collective response to the challenge of creating a prosperous, sustainable energy future for our region.”
For more information about the CivicSpark program and how to apply: www.civicsparkca.org
Contact: Larry Goldberg, Regional Supervisor