To build capacity for local governments to address climate change and water management needs.
Each year, CivicSpark recruits 68 fellows—48 Climate Action Fellows, and 20 Water Action Fellows—who contribute over 65,000 hours to help California communities respond to climate change and water management needs. In collaboration with local government staff, CivicSpark fellows implement a needed climate or water-focused project, while also building long-term capacity to ensure the work is sustained after their service year is completed. Local governments get dedicated project support from a focused team of enthusiastic emerging professionals who receive specialized professional development and sector training. Local benefits include:
CivicSpark fellows get unparalleled real-world experience, spending 11 months working alongside regional leaders and coordinators to implement cutting-edge sustainability projects for forward-looking communities. Benefits include:
CivicSpark fellows provide capacity-building support to local governments while simultaneously supporting volunteer engagement. This approach offers a unique opportunity to accelerate local climate and water action efforts.
CivicSpark support will include four components: (1) an initial gap assessment to determine specific project needs and finalize the project scope; (2) service project (research, planning, or implementation projects); (3) support increased volunteer engagement by establishing new volunteer programs or enhancing pre-existing program relevant to climate change or integrated water management; and (4) transitional support in the form of stakeholder presentations and/or staff training to ensure that project deliverables and resources are adequately handed off to local government participants.
Sample CivicSpark: Climate capacity-building projects include:
Sample CivicSpark: Water capacity-building projects include:
How do local governments participate?
Regional Partners will reach out to local governments to identify and prioritize potential projects. Local governments will define a scope of service and contract with CivicSpark to implement this work at an estimated $18 per hour (e.g.,100-hour project = $1,800) for Climate Action Fellows. This all-inclusive rate covers both work by the fellows and their coordinators’ oversight and project management, as well as the support of program staff from the Local Government Commission and the State of California.
For Water Action Fellows, work is provided at an estimated $13 per hour. Unlike the Climate Action Fellowship, there are no Regional Coordinators for Water fellows. Project partners are expected to provide additional training and supervision to fellows. Host sites will receive a $3,000 stipend to help offset the cost of this additional support.
For more information on eligibility and pricing, please visit our Project Support page.
In order for California to meet its ambitious climate change goals and to prevent significant, negative impacts on California’s economy and environment, local governments—recognized by the state as critical to these goals—need expanded capacity (in terms of new program development, stakeholder engagement, and enhanced staff skills and expertise) to manage the new research, planning, and implementation tasks required.
Additionally, the unprecedented severity and impact of California’s current drought illustrates the fact that water is a preeminent asset to our state’s viability. Land use planning, groundwater management, flood mitigation, and watershed health must be addressed from an integrated approach for California to weather the current drought and be resilient against future impacts to one of our most valuable resources.
AmeriCorps Members working with local governments to implement targeted research, planning, or implementation projects, while simultaneously supporting volunteer engagement, offer a unique way to accelerate local government climate and water action efforts while contributing to our collective response to these pressing problem.
This model of change leverages the strengths of the AmeriCorps service model to support climate change capacity building for local governments by providing beneficiaries with: (1) tangible products (research reports, plans, demonstration projects), which provide stakeholders and staff with concrete actionable information and resources they need to move forward on their own; (2) opportunities to engage new and critical stakeholders (including volunteers) into climate and water initiatives, so their efforts have the support that is needed to continue to grow; and (3) direct experience working with the new tools, methods and resources they need to integrate climate and water management concerns into existing skills and responsibilities.
In the longer-term, CivicSpark fellows contribute to a more effective community and state climate change response by building regional networks that enable economies of scale in response, creating a statewide platform to disseminate more effective climate change and water management response strategies and resources, and strengthening linkages between state and local governments in order to better align state and local efforts.
As CivicSpark is affiliated with AmeriCorps, and aims to provide services to build capacity in local governments, it has clear guidelines as to what partners it can work with. CivicSpark: Climate Action Fellowship projects may focus on a range of climate-change response projects, but all participating local governments must:
CivicSpark: Climate also has a goal that at least one-half of local governments we work with each year are considered “high need”, defined by a mix of the following criteria:
CivicSpark: Water Action Fellowship projects may focus on a range of water and land-use projects, but all participating local governments must meet one of the following four requirements:
CivicSpark: Water also has a goal that at least one-half of local governments we work with each year are considered “high need”, defined by meeting at least one of the following criteria: