Last week, Congress passed The Serve America Act, and the bill is expected to be signed by the President this week.
This historic legislation will dramatically increase service opportunities in the U.S., and will deploy service as a strategy to address our nation's toughest challenges (including the climate crisis and economic recession). One aspect of the bill would prepare disadvantaged youth for jobs in energy efficiency through the Clean Energy Service Corps. This is a huge victory for the Clean Energy Corps, our plan to create green pathways out of poverty through retrofitting America's homes and buildings.
Organizations like YouthBuild USA are helping to redefine how we understand "service". YouthBuild teachers youth who have dropped out of high school how to build energy efficient homes for low-income families, while they earn their GEDs. As Michelle Obama said to 100 youth from the program when she met with them on the National Mall recently –service is not "just an escape for the wealthy." It can be the first step on a pathway out of poverty and the first rung on a green career ladder.
Van Jones recently sent this same message to Congress, explaining the potential of service to create clean energy careers for the youth who need them most.
He described service as the first of 3 steps in the pathway from poverty to prosperity: green service going into green job training, going into green jobs.