2011 Project of the Year: Stimulus Dollars Triple Growth of Youth Corps and Conservation Projects in Hawaii


Winner: KUPU, Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps

From 2009-2010, Kupu and its Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps was thankful for the opportunity to serve 45 young adults, 27 conservation agencies, and numerous communities across Hawaii through an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funded Recovery Youth Conservation Corps (RYCC) project.

Through a number of partnerships with state, federal, and nonprofit conservation agencies, new Americorps members produced considerable benefits for communities as well as themselves. The RYCC project was based on the Youth Conservation Corps’ year-round program, where over the course of 11 months participants gain knowledge, skills, and job training while serving their communities. Statistics truly speak to the success of this program.

In total, the ARRA funding allowed for 45 individuals to be hired, nearly tripling the previous size of the Corps’ year-round program. They contributed a combined total of 66,461 hours of work, a value approximated at $1.2 million. 2,270 community members also volunteered and assisted Corpsmembers with their projects, for a total of 16,380 hours. Over 50 organizations were provided with some kind of aid, and 29% of the participants who have completed their full term of service (11 people) have found permanent jobs as a result of the training they received.

Beyond the statistics, the funding has allowed the Corps to expand its administrative capacity, as well as build meaningful partnerships throughout Hawaii. It’s an excellent example of the value the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has served in one state.

2008 Corpsmember of the Year: Marcos Molina

***Update! Click here to find out what Marcos has been up to since he won his award.***

When a cousin told him about the Tulare County Youth Corps (now Sequoia Community Corps), Marcos was an unemployed, court-involved, high school dropout living with his wife and two daughters in a single bedroom in his mother’s house.  As Marcos struggled with his attendance and attitude during his first weeks at the Corps, many of the staff thought he would probably not succeed. 

“I was literally on the verge of being fired but with the encouragement and support of my supervisor, I stuck it through and kept working," said Marcos. "I knew I had to take care of my family.” 

Over time, with hard work and dedication, Marcos was able to learn job skills, earn a chance to be an Assistant Crew Leader, and move up to Crew Leader.  He learned every aspect of concrete work, chain link fence installation, landscape maintenance, and heavy equipment operation.  He also got his driver’s license and earned his high school diploma.  Marcos is now a Certified Construction Trades Trainer, teaching other Corpsmembers to operate equipment.

“Now I have an apartment and my own car," said Marcos. "I learned to keep my head up and deal with the issues. I know I can handle the curve balls that life throws at me.  ”

2009 Corspmember of the Year: Sarah LaRocque

***Update! Click here to read about what Sarah has been up to since she won her award.***

(Written in 2009) 

Sarah joined Heart of Oregon in August 2007 after a tumultuous childhood filled with drugs and instability. Sarah was extremely motivated to improve her life through education and hard work, and was determined to make it on her own as a single mother.

After attending one quarter of GED Prep, Sarah earned her GED and became taking College Prep classes.  While attending one of Heart of Oregon’s “Career Pathways” classes, she met the Human Resources Director of Bend Broadband, a local cable service provider.  After Sarah completed her term at Heart of Oregon, she reconnected with Bend Broadband and became one of their Customer Support Specialists.

As Sarah stated, “My main goal when I started was to be able to pay all my bills and start planning for my daughter's future, but I thought that was too far of a dream for me. Now I realize that all I needed was the right guidance and constant reassurance that anything can be done.   My life is better because I took that first step by myself, and after that I had my new family to hold my hand.”

2010 Corpsmember of the Year: Alisha Peters

Alisha Peters moved to Ohio to live with her sister to escape an environment where she was getting into trouble, especially with drugs.

WSOS Community Action, Inc. gave Alisha her first work experiences—and she excelled.  She welcomed new Corpsmembers, sharing her cell phone number in case they needed someone who would listen or provide support. She offered any Corpsmember a place to stay and a hot meal if they needed it. And in the Corps, she served as an Ohio Benefit Bank Counselor, assisting low-income families with issues ranging from homelessness to applying for heating assistance, food stamps, Medicaid, and tax preparation.

Alisha traveled through four counties, setting up evening and weekend tax clinics to be sure that working families could get the help they needed when they needed it. When families came in for a tax appointment with her, they often walked out not only with tax refunds, but with food stamps, transportation benefits, and Medicaid support. Most remarkably, the record shows that Alisha Peters assisted more families than any other OBB Tax Counselor in the state of Ohio. She went from being a person needing help to being a person who was exemplary for giving help to others.

Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center Thriving, Plans to Double Enrollment


Oconaluftee Jobs Corps Fall graduates. Photo by Holly Krake.


This article was written by Scott McKie and originally published in the Cherokee One Feather.  Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center is a member of The Corps Network.

Three years after the Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center (OJCCC) almost had its doors closed for good, the Center is thriving. “It is ranked 36th out of 122 Job Corps Centers nationwide,” Danny Muse, OJCCC academic manager, told the members of the Job Corps Community Relations Council at a meeting held at the Center on Thursday, Dec. 2.

Muse, an employee at OJCCC since 1976, said they also rank 7th in literacy, 3rd in numeracy and 3rd in graduate placement. Since June, 18 students have received their GED.

“This is a stepping stone for them,” said Muse, “and we’re working very diligently to help them get there.”

The Community Relations Council was formed in June as a way to garner community and regional support for the students and their needs. Information from the Council states the ideals of the group includes: creation of sustainable vision and goals, development and strengthening of partnerships, address local needs while fostering employment and lifelong skills in students and designing a culture of commitment and stewardship.

Holly Krake, OJCCC business community liaison, related that there are currently 68 students enrolled at the Center and they performed a total of 13,270 work-based learning hours this year. “Based on common wages, that would total over $240,000 of labor hours that students have put into the community.”

She said OJCCC students have volunteered at numerous area businesses, organizations and events including: Far West Special Olympics hosted in Cherokee, EBCI Dora Reed Childcare Center, “Meet Me in the Smokie” Open Charity Golf event, EBCI Fisheries and Wildlife, Cherokee Indian Hospital, Cherokee Chamber of Commerce, and more.

OJCCC has plans to expand in 2011 by doubling their enrollment and adding four next programs, sponsored by the Home Builder’s Institute, including: Carpentry, Electrical, Facilities Maintenance, and HVAC.

Krake said the volunteer and career opportunities all help tremendously with the development of students. “All of those are reasons that students get vested into the program and dedicate themselves to finish.”

For information on the Community Relations Council or to find out how your business or organization can partner with OJCCC, contact Holly Krake 497-8062.

San Gabriel Valley Conservation Corps Greens Program to Receive Recovery Funding


San Gabriel Valley Conservation Corps just got some green to go green. The Corps is receiving $98,122 from the Department of Labor to help promote green job training. "This is going to kind of round out our program," Executive  Director Daniel Oaxaca said.   "We  are already doing construction, so we figured why not teach them to do green construction?" With the money, the program will eventually expand its YouthBuild program from serving two dozen students to 35 students. And it will build the curriculum to include green construction techniques including solar panel installation and maintenance. Learn more in theSan Gabriel Valley Tribune.

The Youth Corps Act

Help Support the Youth Corps Act of 2011!

The number one goal of Service and Conservation Corps and The Corps Network is to see a dedicated funding stream established at the federal level to support Corps. With legislation pending in the House (H.R. 711), we’re closer to seeing that happen than at any other time in the past 25 years!

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono has introduced The Youth Corps Act of 2011, a bill that would create a home for Corps within the Department of Labor. Specifically, this legislation will create a grant program within the Department of Labor to provide funding for youth Service and Conservation Corps to access in order to provide education and job training to at-risk youth across the nation. 

Download “The Youth Corps Act” one pager to share with your members of Congress.

An impressive list of cosponsors is critical to moving this legislation forward. Current cosponsors include:

H.R. 711:

Rep Andrews, Robert E. [NJ-1] - 2/15/2011
Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3] - 10/3/2011
Rep Boswell, Leonard L. [IA-3] - 3/14/2011
Rep Chu, Judy [CA-32] - 10/5/2011
Rep Cohen, Steve [TN-9] - 7/13/2011
Rep Connolly, Gerald E. "Gerry" [VA-11] - 7/6/2011
Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14] - 8/30/2011
Rep Costa, Jim [CA-20] - 2/17/2011
Rep Davis, Danny K. [IL-7] - 6/22/2011
Rep Doggett, Lloyd [TX-25] - 2/16/2012
Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA-2] - 8/19/2011
Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] - 2/16/2011
Rep Gutierrez, Luis V. [IL-4] - 7/25/2011
Rep Hanabusa, Colleen W. [HI-1] - 7/8/2011
Rep Kildee, Dale E. [MI-5] - 2/16/2011
Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] - 9/23/2011
Rep Lewis, John [GA-5] - 6/15/2011
Rep Lujan, Ben Ray [NM-3] - 3/8/2011
Rep Matsui, Doris O. [CA-5] - 2/15/2011
Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC] - 10/3/2011
Rep Polis, Jared [CO-2] - 3/19/2012
Rep Price, David E. [NC-4] - 9/23/2011
Rep Richardson, Laura [CA-37] - 6/13/2011
Rep Velazquez, Nydia M. [NY-12] - 6/15/2011
Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] - 9/13/2011

The Youth Corps Act of 2011 is a win-win-win youth workforce building solution.