Civicorps’ mission is to re-engage young adults so they can earn a high school diploma, gain job skills, pursue college and embark on family sustaining careers.
Founded in 1983 as one of the first Conservation Corps in California, Civicorps is the only accredited high school and job training program for youth 18-26 who have previously dropped out of school in Oakland, California. Corpsmembers gain a high school diploma, receive guidance and support through the first year of college and work in Civicorps’ two social enterprises—Environmental Management and Recycling Collections. Working for 32 hours/week at $13.05/hour (Oakland’s current minimum wage) allows students to begin to support themselves and their families while creating a future.
All Civicorps students have dropped out of high school, and are extremely low-income. In addition, 35% were formerly incarcerated, 50% are homeless, 38% are single parents, 25% are former foster youth and 40% have learning disabilities.
The graduation rate for Civicorps’ charter high school is 72%, compared with the average of 60% in Oakland. More importantly, one year post graduation, 73% of graduates are enrolled in college and/or employed.
Deonta, a recent graduate, tells his story: “I decided to change my life – get away from all of the negative stuff in the streets. I had been shot three times, been in jail – it was time to change for the better.
Since I enrolled at Civicorps, I’ve been involved in leadership roles, done lots of public speaking, and represented Civicorps at community events. I feel like I was always a leader, but never had a place to be one. Everything in my life has led me to this moment of graduating with a high-school diploma and going to college. I can now look back and say, yes I did change my life for the better and I’m going to keep going down this path.”
In 2015, Civicorps became the first non-profit training program to be included in a major city’s garbage franchise agreement. After creating an apprenticeship program with the Teamsters with a direct pathway to high-paying union jobs, Civicorps became the largest non-profit recycling service in Oakland serving over 800 commercial and institutional customers.
Civicorps’ goal is to double its program to serve 300 youth each year, to create additional job pathways and to share its model for replication across the country.
Civicorps’ two social enterprises—Environmental Management and Recycling Collections—have triple bottom line results. Financially, they constitute 74% of the organization’s revenues ($5.3 million) and the profits (over $1.3 million) providing unrestricted funds to support the academic program and administration. In addition, Civicorps’ social enterprises are giving young adults who have not previously held jobs their first job experience, while maintaining public lands, preventing floods and fires, increasing tree canopy and providing multiple recycling services.
Civicorps joined Social Enterprise Alliance two years ago. Since then, they have gained access to new funding, new ideas and new partners as their social enterprises have grown and become more effective.
To learn more about Civicorps, check out their member directory profile.