UC Berkeley launches BearCorps in partnership with California Volunteers

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A campus program called BearCorps, which was established in partnership with California Volunteers, will create opportunities for recent graduates to work in farm and forest communities.

BearCorps, which is part of the Civic Action Fellowship, will send graduates to farm and forest communities, where they will have the opportunity to promote regenerative agriculture as well as forest and fire resilience, according to Ken Alex, director of Project Climate at UC Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment.

Those who are selected will work for 11 months and will be paid a stipend of $20,000, and those who complete the 1,700-hour commitment will also be given a $10,000 education grant to pay for student loans or future education, Alex added.

“BearCorps is an opportunity for recent grads to work on climate change action and community service in communities that need it most,” Alex said in an email. “BearCorps fellows will work on demonstration projects, education, outreach, and data gathering in farm and forest communities, as they learn about the issues that face those communities.”

Created to meet California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s broader vision to reach 10,000 service members in California, the Civic Action Fellowship is a partnership between California Volunteers and a group of universities. It is intended to help students, who sign up as AmeriCorps fellows, finance their educations while engaging in public service, according to a press release from California Volunteers.

The Civic Action Fellowship will include about 250 current undergraduate and graduate students, who will serve and address issues in their communities, according to Cristina Valdivia, the communications director of California Volunteers. The community issues chosen will be centered around each student’s academic curriculum while encouraging community engagement, job placement and four-year completion.

“The service fellowship at each university will offer AmeriCorps Fellows a rich and meaningful real-world education, promoting workplace skills in different settings, and exposing Fellows to the value of a public service/non-profit careers,” Valdivia said in an email. “The service experience will be enhanced through on-site and cohort trainings and reflection opportunities.”

Other universities in the partnership include Dominican University of California, University of the Pacific, Cal State Stanislaus, California Lutheran University, Cal State Los Angeles, UC Merced and California State University at San Jose, according to the press release.

According to Valdivia, the universities will design the service experience with local nonprofit and public organizations. The focus of the service fellowship will vary depending on the issues of the community, Valdivia added.

Recruitment for the program will begin in March, and placement will start in Aug., according to Alex.

“We had an Americorps program in the past that supported hundreds of students engaged in service on issues such as educational equity, homelessness, criminal justice reform, and more,” Valdivia said in an email. “We’re excited to see this partnership being renewed and strengthened through our engagement with the state of California.”

Contact Nina Narahari at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ninanarahari_dc.