In the fight against climate change, California is tapping into an important renewable resource: people power.

The state recently launched the California Climate Action Corps. The program’s fellows work full-time on community climate projects in exchange for a monthly stipend and an education grant.

Josh Fryday is California’s chief service officer. He says fellows often work in vulnerable communities.

Some are leading tree plantings in neighborhoods that lack shade. Others are working with restaurants to recover food that would otherwise go to waste.

“We also have fellows who are working with fire safe councils around the state, helping low-income seniors harden their homes, which means taking simple measures that can more easily protect their homes against wildfires,” Fryday says.

A similar program could soon roll out nationwide. President Biden has called for the creation of a National Civilian Climate Corps. While the details of the program will likely differ, California’s effort shows that people are eager to get involved.

“People really feel empowered by this program. They feel like they actually have an outlet to make an impact on climate,” Fryday says. “And doing the outreach and education and building the projects, they’re empowering others, and that’s very inspiring to them.”

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media and Diana Madson