In April of 1933 – at the height of the depression, when nearly a quarter of the nation’s workforce was unemployed – President Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC was a work relief program that put millions of young men to work on environmental projects. More than three billion trees were planted, and trails and shelters were constructed in more than 800 parks. The CCC helped shape today’s national and state park system. Many of today’s programs are modeled on the depression era effort; they exist in urban and rural communities, employing thousands of young people every year. The Los Angeles Conservation Corps is an award-winning example of how the CCC has evolved, and how transforming lives can enhance communities.
The LA Conservation Corps’ purpose is to provide at-risk adults and school-aged youth with job skills training, education, and work experience. The emphasis is on conservation and service projects that benefit local communities. The LA Conservation Corps offers paid work experience on a range of projects that go back to the CCC in the 1930s, such as planting trees, building parks, creating gardens, and refurbishing trails. The organization also works to remove graffiti and clean alleyways. Through an affiliated charter school, “Corpsmembers” can earn a high school diploma.
Believing in a brighter future
The LA Conservation Corps is an unusual combination of environment and empowerment. It’s about the macro and the micro, the individual and the group.
The Corps is committed to putting members first, ensuring they have access to the support they need in their personal lives and in their careers. Creativity, innovation, collaboration, growth, development, integrity, and transparency are among the values the organization espouses and inspires.
Collaborating with a credit union
For many of the young workers at LA Conservation Corps, their first paycheck is literally their first paycheck. They’re often understandably naïve when it comes to banking. That’s where SCE Credit Union steps in. The Credit Union offers financial literacy seminars that provide some foundational financial understanding. Erica Blodgett, Development & Communications Director for the LA Conservation Corps, says it opens up a new world. “It’s banking relationship-101 for many. They suddenly grasp the need for a checking account and debit card. They learn what to avoid and become savvier about savings,” Blodgett says.
Blodgett went on to say the access to products and information SCE Credit Union provides helps the Corps fulfill a major goal. “Our organization is about a lot more than a paycheck, it’s about a promise and a plan for something better.”
Environmental concerns have moved to the forefront of our planet’s collective consciousness. We face an existential threat and, as the saying goes, there is no planet-B. Conservation and renovation are important aspects of the overall effort to reinvent our world. LA Conservation Corps is committed to the local community, the global community, and the hardworking, engaged youth, making a difference every day. SCE Credit Union is proud of our partnership with the Corps and inspired by the work they do. To learn more visit LAcorps.org.