What is California Climate Action Corps?

In California, climate change is a threat to systems and people across the state. The impacts to our environment and health are worsening as we experience longer and more frequent droughts, devastating wildfires, and more. Each of us has a role to play. You can take meaningful action today to help communities across our state.

As a part of California’s comprehensive strategy to address the climate crisis, California Volunteers, Office of the Governor, is creating the country’s first state-level climate service corps. The service corps was established to empower all Californians to take meaningful action to safeguard the climate.

California Climate Action Corps is guided by three core principles:

  • Directly address and seek to mitigate climate change or otherwise contribute to climate resilience and recovery.
  • Foster more equitable outcomes for the state’s disadvantaged communities.
  • Create new opportunities for service and pathways into professional development.

California Climate Action Corps meets Californians where they are and provides meaningful opportunities for all Californians to act.

Program Background and Status

In September 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom launched the California Climate Action Corps, the country’s first statewide corps of its kind with the mission of empowering Californians to take meaningful action to protect their homes, health, and communities against the harshest impacts of climate change. This initiative will engage people through a variety of levels and activities, from those who have an hour to commit at home, to those who can commit a year of service, and everything in between.

“California has invested more in wildfire prevention than any time in our history. Enacted bold climate policies. But it’s not enough. We must do more. We need action at EVERY level.” – Governor Newsom

California Climate Action Corps is a direct response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s call to serve and commitment to fighting climate change. California Climate Action Corps is the result of a year-long planning effort involving input from dozens of state, local, and community stakeholders.  Designed by California Volunteers, California Climate Action Corps will deploy a “Service Pyramid” model to create meaningful opportunities for all Californians to engage in meaningful climate action in three areas: serving, volunteering, and taking action. For California Climate Action Corps, these activities include:

  • Serve
    • Increase pathways into and participation in the climate workforce by fostering professional development opportunities for Corps members.
    • Catalyze community climate action and opportunity by supporting full-time (summer and 11-month) service positions, called Fellowships, focused on organizing climate projects and creating volunteer opportunities in communities around the state.
    • Promote student engagement in climate action by supporting in-school climate action service programming through university and school partnerships.
  • Volunteer
    • Expand private sector climate action opportunities by facilitating corporate “days of service” and employee climate action programs.
    • Foster deeper and broader engagement in and support for local climate action by creating a statewide hub to match organizations and projects with individuals who want to take climate action in their communities.
  • Take Action
    • Create momentum and widespread engagement with climate action as an everyday individual activity through a broad promotional campaign around top climate actions every individual can take, tracking participation, and celebrating outcomes.

Current Status

Since 2021, more than 300 AmeriCorps fellows have served in frontline and low-income communities across the state to support local climate action projects. In partnership with VolunteerMatch, California Volunteers has also established a statewide online hub of climate-focused volunteer opportunities. A broad-based individual action campaign is currently being developed. As the program continues to grow, programming and activities for educational and business partners are also being developed and launched.

Core Team

California Climate Action Corps is supported across California Volunteers, but leadership is provided by the following individuals:

  • Josh Fryday, Chief Service Officer
  • Jacqueline Yannacci, Chief Program Officer
  • Sunshine Swinford, Climate Action Director
  • Lindsay Righter, Climate Action Deputy Director

For more information or to talk about one of our program areas, email us at ccac@californiavolunteers.ca.gov

Through my work, I want to promote safe and healthy relationships between human societies and the natural world that we all share. The California Climate Action Corps has given me a rare opportunity to work in a field that I am passionate about while simultaneously helping people through exposure and education of new topics. I am always happy to get to work because I feel like I am actually making a positive impact in my community. I feel like I am making a difference.

Nicholas Gil

City of San Jose, Mayor's Office