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MI Healthy Climate Corps program to launch in March 2024

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Some Climate Corps projects could focus on preserving natural carbon sinks such as forests.

A new program modeled off of AmeriCorps is set to launch in Michigan in 2024. The first MI Healthy Climate Corps members will start their work in March, working with host groups (such as tribes and non-profit groups) to identify projects that will advance Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan.

The program is a collaborative effort between the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy's (EGLE) Office of Climate and Energy, AmeriCorps, and the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan.

The two-year program will have two cohorts: the first cohort will have 30 members that will serve seven months, while the second cohort will complete an 11-month term.

State officials say Corps members will tackle projects across six sectors outlined in Whitmer’s climate plan: environmental justice, switching to low-carbon electricity sources, reducing emissions from homes and businesses, decarbonizing the transportation sector, driving industrial innovation toward carbon reduction, and investing in protecting existing carbon sinks.

Corps members will work with local and tribal governments, environmental non-profits, and community-based organizations across the state to tackle local projects that will advance the state’s decarbonization goals.

Cory Connolly is the Climate and Energy Advisor for EGLE. He said the Climate Corps is a “natural extension” of Whitmer’s plan and is hopeful that it will continue after the first two years.

“What we’re expecting is that these folks add capacity and energy and enthusiasm around meeting local priorities, and helping Michigan reach our targets of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, and doing so across the board in a just and equitable manner,” Connolly said.

There is an informational webinar on Thursday, November 9 at 11 A.M. for people interested in becoming a Corps member and for organizations wishing to host a corps member. Institutions that wish to host a Climate Corps member can apply until November 22; Corps member applications open December 15.

"When I look at all the work we need to do…we need everyone working together toward collective action to solve this challenge. To change everything, we need everyone, and this is kind of an exact example of that. Getting folks out into communities really doing this work will help catalyze way more people than just the thirty members,” Connolly said.

Beth Weiler is a newsroom intern covering the environment.
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