President Joe Biden speaks at Prince William Forest Park on April 22, in Triangle, Virginia.

President Joe Biden speaks at Prince William Forest Park on April 22, in Triangle, Virginia. Andrew Harnik / GETTY IMAGES

Biden announces first tranche of Climate Corps jobs with hopes of segueing thousands into federal service

Participants can leverage their experience into federal internships and jobs.

President Biden on Monday announced the first set of jobs under the banner of his American Climate Corps, promising that many of them will be able to quickly transition into federal agency positions. 

In his Earth Day speech at a National Park Service site in northern Virginia, Biden said nearly 2,000 positions across on the newly launched are now open for applications. Agencies throughout government worked with organizations to set up the roles and the White House promised 20,000 young Americans will eventually find positions through the new initiative that Biden established last year. The positions will include solar installation, mangrove restoration and air quality monitoring.

Biden touted that recent reforms to the Pathways Program—the primary forum for federal internships—will enable ACC members to more quickly and easily transition into permanent agency roles. Those changes will allow participants to credit their service toward the work hours needed to qualify for certain federal positions through the “recent graduates” part of the program.  

“When you finish your term of service, you’ll be eligible for federal government jobs related to climate and energy,” Biden said. 

He encouraged potential applicants to “get paid to fight climate change, learning how to install those solar panels, fight wildfires, rebuild wetlands [and] weatherize homes.” 

“Whether it's Park Service members or Forest Rangers, the next generation of those employees can be sourced in the American Climate Corps,” White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi said ahead of Biden’s announcement. He added the ACC roles will open opportunities to individuals of all backgrounds, regardless of their “qualifications of ZIP code,” to gain skills for future employment.

Biden also announced on Monday a partnership with the North America’s Building Trades Unions’ nonprofit partner TradesFutures to ensure every ACC member will have access to an "apprenticeship readiness curriculum" during their service to train them on fundamental skills for the clean energy economy. 

The new program received “a huge interest in the sort of initial signups and expressions of interest,” a senior administration official told reporters before the announcement. After engaging with federal and other leaders, the official added, the program has received marching orders to ensure participants “look like America,” are recruited from all parts of the country and are set up for “not just a year of service but a lifetime career in clean energy.”  

Earlier this year, an ACC executive committee and working group made up of various federal agency participants created the standards for ACC programs, set compensation guidelines and minimum terms of service, developed recruitment strategies, launched a centralized website and established performance goals and objectives. The ACC groups have held listening sessions with potential applicants, labor unions, state and local governments, educational institutions and other stakeholders. 

Benefits for corps members will include housing, transportation, health care, child care, educational credit, scholarships and student loan forgiveness, stipends and non-financial services.

Biden is moving forward with the initiative despite Republican pushback. In a contentious 217-216 vote in September, House Republicans approved an amendment to a funding bill that would block any federal funding for the ACC. That provision has not yet received consideration in the Senate, where it is unlikely to receive approval from the Democratic majority. In November, Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., introduced the No American Climate Corps Act to eliminate the program.

Biden on Monday made clear he was undeterred by the detractors. 

“We're gonna get this done, I promise you,” the president said. “Come hell or high water.”