Marginalized New Orleans Youth Strive for a Brighter, Greener Future
The Corps Network has recently launched a new service program in New Orleans. The Conservation Corps of Greater New Orleans (CCGNO) combines many goals:
- Engage local youth whom the schools have not reached, including formerly incarcerated and court-involved 16-24 year olds
- Prepare these youth with highly marketable and potentially lucrative green job skills
- Give them the chance to use sustainable practices to restore the environment and historic structures, conserve energy, and build community
- Revitalize New Orleans, a city still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina
- Innovate service learning practices by implementing them without the classroom
- Transform the public perception of marginalized youth by giving them a platform and a voice
- Instill in these youth the value of service to community at an early age
CCGNO leverages some investment from the Federal government, to not only transform the lives of its Corps members but also to rebuild and rejuvenate New Orleans infrastructure and community.
The program graduates its first class of Corps members this Friday through its Service Learning Showcase, where 100 Corps members will share their accomplishments from their three-month term of service.
During their term, Corps members visualized success, researched and assessed community needs, proposed and implemented sustainable projects, and finally evaluated their own outcomes. Corps members have served side by side with up to seven peers, plus professional mentors who have guided them. They have served in agencies throughout Greater New Orleans.
Recruited from the parishes of Greater New Orleans, the inaugural class of CCGNO show that quality service-learning comes through youth ownership. By mid-2009, CCGNO hopes to have graduated 800 Corps members.
While some service corps programs are hit-or-miss when it comes to career transitions, CCGNO is all about green workforce development, and commits to propelling its graduating Corps members towards green jobs and further education.
For further reading on bringing all voices to the environmental movement, check out GreenForAll.org. In November 2008, Green For All’s founder Van Jones published a book Green Collar Economy. Also read this New York Times blog post (from 11/10/08) about Van Jones and the Obama administration. Check out this interview with Van Jones, who explains more: