While the CCC was officially
disbanded in 1942, the concept lived on in the nation's heart and mind. It was revived in
1957, when the Student Conservation Association (SCA) placed its first college students as
volunteers in national parks and forests. Just over a decade later the late Senator Henry
M. "Scoop" Jackson used the SCA model as the basis for legislation that created
the Youth Conservation Corps -- the YCC. At its height during the mid-1970's the YCC was
funded at the level of $60 million and enrolled some 32,000 young people each summer in
programs operated by the Departments of Interior and Agriculture and by states as well.
YCC participants worked in both cities and wilderness areas across the country, performing
a variety of conservation projects, including tree-planting, river clean-up and erosion
Late in the '70s, an even larger
federal program was launched -- the Young Adult Conservation Corps -- the YACC -- which
provided young people with year-round conservation-related employment and education
opportunities. With an annual appropriation of $260 million, the YACC operated at both the
federal and state levels.
Both the YCC and the YACC were
virtually eliminated in 1981 due to dramatic federal budget reductions. By that time,
however, the value of youth conservation corps had been proven and many states had already
begun to support these programs directly. California was the first. Then Governor Jerry
Brown launched the California Conservation Corps in 1975. Other states, including
Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin promptly followed suit. Throughout
the 1980s, states continued to launch corps.
In 1983 the emerging youth corps
movement took a new twist with the birth of the first local corps programs. Once again
California took the lead with the start-up of urban conservation corps in San Francisco,
Marin County and Oakland (East Bay) and seven more in subsequent years. The California
urban corps were strengthened by passage of the California Bottle Act in 1985 which
earmarked funding for local corps recycling projects.
In 1984, New York City established
the City Volunteer corps and added a new dimension to the youth corps field by engaging
young people in the delivery of human services as well as conservation work. During the
mid-1980s, despite the lack of federal support, new state and local corps continued to
spring up across the country.
Late in the 1980's, with support from
several large foundations (Ford, Kellogg, Hewlett, Mott, Rockefeller, and the DeWitt
Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, among others), Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) and NASCC
launched a national demonstration to create and evaluate the outcomes of urban corps in 10
cities across the country. The first of these new corps -- which all follow a prescribed
model -- became operational in the fall of 1990 and the most recent came on line in
In 1992, the youth corps movement saw
the first targeted federal funding in more than a decade, when the Commission on National
and Community Service awarded $22.5 million in grants to 23 states, the District of
Columbia, the Los Angeles Conservation Corps and 5 Indian tribes. These funds became
available under the American Conservation and Youth Service Corps Act, included as
Subtitle C of the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (NCSA). While not all
established corps benefited directly from these funds, the number of corps programs almost
doubled -- to just over 100 -- as a result of the new federal money.
In 1993 Congress enacted and
President Clinton signed The National and Community Service Trust Act, which expanded
federal support for state and local community service programs and established
post-service educational benefits for participants through the AmeriCorps Program. During
the first year of AmeriCorps, 50 youth corps competed successfully for grants through
statewide population-based and competitive processes as well as through a national direct
In 1995 120 youth corps are operating
in 38 states and the District of Columbia serving 26,000 young people annually, including
approximately 2,500 AmeriCorps participants.
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