Environmental nonprofit EarthCorps awarded $840,000 from AmeriCorps to fund livable wages for corps members.
In an initiative to promote equity and address the rising cost of living throughout the Puget Sound region, EarthCorps will provide their 2024 Corps Members a minimum hourly stipend of $17.00.
Seattle, WA – EarthCorps, a Seattle-based environmental nonprofit that cultivates leaders and community partnerships to advance environmental justice, announced that they are the recipient of an $840,000 grant from AmeriCorps. An AmeriCorps grantee for the past 19 years, this year’s monumental award allows EarthCorps to increase hourly stipends for Corps Members in their 2024 Corps Program from $13 to $17 – reducing barriers to program entry and responding to the rising cost of living in the city of Seattle.
EarthCorps’ central program is partially funded by AmeriCorps – the federal agency for national service and volunteerism. Each year, the nonprofit welcomes young environmental leaders, or Corps Members, from across the country to the Puget Sound region for a hands-on, environmental leadership program. After their year of service, Corps Members have the technical skills, networks, and resources to tackle the most pressing environmental challenges across the country and around the globe.
Long-time advocate of AmeriCorps-funded programs and champion for restoring and defending parks and public lands, Rep. Derek Kilmer shares: “This substantial grant from AmeriCorps to EarthCorps is not just an investment in the environment – it’s an investment in the very fabric of our communities,” said Rep. Kilmer. “By providing higher wages to Corps Members, we are breaking down the barriers that have too often limited who can participate in environmental stewardship. I’m thrilled to see EarthCorps continue their vital work in the Puget Sound region, and to know that they are doing so in a way that opens doors for more people to serve their communities.”
Historically, low-income communities and communities of color have faced additional barriers to entry into the nonprofit and environmental sectors. In 2022, EarthCorps announced a new vision of an equitable world where all people and nature thrive together. As part of this initiative, the nonprofit is striving to reduce obstacles by providing livable stipends and creating financially sustainable pathways to environmental opportunities.
EarthCorps’ Executive Director Evlyn Andrade led the organization’s pivot: “Over the next three years, we’re expanding our restoration work to underserved and marginalized communities. With this grant, we can increase access to our program for young adults of color and low-income applicants. As we invest in the leadership of our corps, we are committed to working with and listening to communities most impacted by environmental degradation.”
“I have faced a lot of difficulties trying to live off the stipend the last two years in Seattle. My first year in AmeriCorps, I went through a large chunk of my savings. This year I have picked up a second job and normally have zero to one day off per week. Most, if not all, corps members are getting EBT benefits because our pay is so low. So many people who would be interested in working for EarthCorps cannot because the wages are not livable.” EarthCorps’ Michelle Henriksen was a Crew Member last year and a Volunteer Specialist this year who shared feedback on the challenges of the rising cost of living in Seattle, WA. Corps Members are part of the AmeriCorps Program and receive a monthly stipend and education award for their year of service. With this year’s AmeriCorps award, EarthCorps has the capacity to increase the 2024 cohort’s stipend to above Washington State’s minimum wage.
“Looking toward the future, I’m hopeful that this increased accessibility will foster more equitable environmental opportunities for all. As we continue to cultivate leaders and community partnerships throughout the Puget Sound region, we’re driven by our commitment to advance environmental justice within our organization and throughout our global community” says Andrade.
EarthCorps is a thirty-year-old Seattle-based nonprofit that envisions an equitable world where all people and nature thrive together. Each year, the organization welcomes young environmental leaders from across the globe for a technical restoration skills training and leadership program. Caring for the lands, waters, and people of the Puget Sound region, these young adults help to realize the organization’s mission of cultivating leaders and community partnerships to advance environmental justice, and join a global network of environmental activists, leaders, and changemakers.
You can learn more about EarthCorps online at earthcorps.org.