The inaugural cohort of Governor Jerry Brown’s Initiative AmeriCorps program, CivicSpark, graduated yesterday. 35 CivicSpark fellows provided over 60,000 hours of service to California’s communities, helping 88 local governments build capacity to respond to climate change.
Secretary John Laird from the California Natural Resources Agency provided a keynote speech at yesterday’s graduation. “I was talking to some [fellows"> about the projects they did and this is exactly what makes a difference with the issue of our time,” said Secretary Laird. “We appreciate everything you did – it made a fundamental difference. This is the start of an amazing career of each of you and I look forward to your success.”
CivicSpark fellows implemented 37 projects, including projects on climate adaptation, sustainable transportation, energy efficiency, solar procurement, urban forestry and sea-level rise, in support of 88 local government agencies and their climate change priorities.
“CivicSpark members have dedicated almost a year to helping communities address air pollution, extreme heat, and rising energy and transportation costs,” said Kate Meis, Executive Director of the Local Government Commission. “Individually they have made lasting contributions in the communities they’ve served— from developing programs to help businesses and residents reduce energy use, to increasing use of public transit— collectively these young leaders have made a significant statewide impact”.
Throughout the 11-month service year, CivicSpark climate fellows supported a wide range of concrete climate actions, including development of 8 climate or energy action plans, 17 climate action policies and 10 vulnerability assessments, as well as creation of 8 greenhouse gas inventories and 4 benchmark analyses for cities, organization of 12 community climate education workshops, and engagement with over 1,000 community members, including residents, business owners, and the public.
The graduation brought together fellows from each region that CivicSpark serves—Sacramento, San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sierra Nevada, North Coast, Central Coast, San Joaquin Valley, and Inland Empire—as well as regional coordinators, regional partners, state partners, and program staff to celebrate the fellows’ achievements throughout the 2014-15 service year.
CivicSpark, administered by the Local Government Commission in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, provides the next generation of climate leaders with an opportunity to gain professional experience, build technical skill and create a meaningful and lasting impact on California’s climate landscape. CivicSpark fellows work on projects that provide local governments with the support they need for their priority climate and sustainability initiatives.
Each year, 48 CivicSpark fellows, organized in regional teams, work with a range of local and regional project partners such as cities, counties, regional agencies, school districts, MPOs and NGOs, to help implement local climate projects, such as greenhouse gas inventories, complete streets plans and water-conservation campaigns. By executing targeted research, planning, and implementation projects, supporting volunteer engagement and providing valuable regional and state resources, CivicSpark provides the support needed to develop new programs, enhance staff skills and expertise, and engage stakeholders in order to respond to climate change quickly, effectively and equitably.
“CivicSpark is honestly one of the best investments that you can make,” says Emily Potter, a graduate of the 2014-15 CivicSpark cohort. “It provides training and real-world experience that you definitely leave feeling that you not only are a much better professional but that you’ve also been doing service… and that you’ve been contributing to climate change issues. It’s a great investment of your time and where you begin and where you leave is so different.”
Thank you to Ascent Environmental, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments and the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District for sponsoring the event.
For more information about CivicSpark, please click here.