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Environmental Commission hears plans for Austin CCC

Friday, May 28, 2021 by Seth Smalley

The Environmental Commission convened May 19 to discuss a variety of topics, among them an overview of the Austin Civilian Conservation Corps program.

The Civilian Conservation Corps – or Triple C – was created by a City Council resolution that passed last year. Originally a Covid response program, Austin CCC was created to help Austinites who had been economically impacted by the pandemic.

The program is intended to provide training and infrastructure for a broad range of green jobs related to conservation and sustainability.

“The focus was on people from economic sectors that were heavily affected by the pandemic, who may need to switch careers and were interested in this type of work,” said Daniel Culotta, the program coordinator for Austin CCC.

Initially it focused on “outdoor conservation-related jobs,” he said, as well as things like public art.

“We’re looking at items in the circular economy, stormwater infrastructure and things like that,” Culotta told commissioners. “We’re really focused on creating equitable access through low-barrier supportive programs, that also help create pathways to additional jobs and careers.”

The program is currently run by a program team headed by Culotta, as well as leaders from several different departments, including Watershed Protection, the parks department, Community Outreach and Austin Resource Recovery. The program was initially allotted $500,000 from General Fund reserves, though leaders were authorized to seek $2.5 million more in partnership with other departments.

Nonprofit partners are crucial in the administration of the program, Culotta explained.

“We have been able to create several programs through lots of great partnerships and outside organizations,” Culotta said. “Through those different programs we have now a little over $3 million.”

Partner organizations include American YouthWorks, Go Austin/Vamos Austin, The Other Ones Foundation, Gulf Coast Carpenters and Millwrights Training Trust Fund, Creative Action and Raasin in the Sun.

Although the green jobs section of the Austin CCC still seems to be in the fledgling stages, it demonstrates lots of potential for growth. As Culotta described: “We want to create a green jobs program, incubator or accelerator, if you will, where we can develop programs to fulfill opportunities that we can then design, prototype and get them working really well before investing in them more.”

The Austin CCC currently employs just over 100 people. Given the level of funding and organization, close to 300 additional jobs could be created, according to Culotta.

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