California Governor Jerry Brown announced last week the creation of CivicSpark, an initiative of AmeriCorps that will launch across California. The Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED) at Fresno State was selected as a regional partner, helping to coordinate the program for the San Joaquin Valley.

In the next three years, about $2 million in grant funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service will bring services to California communities. For the San Joaquin Valley, CivicSpark expects to recruit, train and support six AmeriCorps members to pursue clean energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard against climate change impacts and implement sustainable community strategies.

Statewide, this program will mobilize 48 AmeriCorps members each year to implement local climate change projects in California communities.

This initiative is being led by the Local Government Commission in partnership with the State of California through the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, CaliforniaVolunteers and a network of regional organizations that includes OCED at Fresno State.

“Climate change is a global challenge that requires strong, sustained local action,” Brown said. “This program gets young people into communities across California to help reduce emissions and boost energy efficiency.”

Kate Meis, executive director of the Local Government Commission, the California-based nonprofit organizing the CivicSpark initiative, said that California is a pioneer in addressing climate change but the state cannot achieve long-term goals alone. “Local governments have been recognized as instrumental in meeting state climate and energy goals aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Starting in May, CivicSpark and OCED at Fresno State will begin to identify local government participants and projects in the eight-county San Joaquin Valley region. Project selection and recruitment runs through the summer. Selected projects are expected to launch in local communities in mid-September.

“Local leadership is needed to implement these goals, but local governments are challenged with limited capacity due to budget constraints and the loss of key tools and funding sources,” said Mike Dozier, executive director of OCED at Fresno State. “This program will help communities in the San Joaquin Valley bridge that gap and spark climate resilience measures statewide.”

Statewide, 48 CivicSpark members will contribute over 60,000 hours of support to at least 100 local climate action projects throughout California each year.

For more information contact Mike Dozier, executive director of the Office of Community and Economic Development at 559.696.2524.

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