Detroit Conservation Leadership Corps to Expand


Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan Issues Grant to SCA

(DETROIT, MI) February 8, 2013 — Lessons in conservation, sustainability, and environmental justice will be passed on by Detroit youth to Detroit youth, thanks to a new partnership between The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Student Conservation Association (SCA).

A $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation’s Youth Leadership and Civic Engagement program will allow SCA to pilot a Crew Leader Apprentice program and pave new career pathways for participants in the Detroit Conservation Leadership Corps, a summer program that engages local youth in green jobs readiness training and leadership development.

The Conservation Leadership Corps is operated by SCA and founding partner Johnson Controls, Inc. in collaboration with The Greening of Detroit. More than 450 Detroit teens have participated in the corps since its launch in 2008, and throughout this time Corps members were required to be age 15-18, while the starting age for corps leaders was 21. SCA Detroit Program Manager Amit Weitzer notes those stipulations caused a troubling gap for corps graduates eager to step up to an instructor’s role.

“The Crew Leader Apprentice program effectively bridges this two-year span by giving 19 and 20-year olds meaningful employment opportunities as well as additional career training and field experience,” Weitzer says. “We’ve seen many remarkable crew members work their way through the program, year after year, and build their leadership skills. With this grant, we are now able to provide them with a true developmental continuum.”

Weitzer indicates while the apprentice programs are fairly new to SCA, they have demonstrated early success in other SCA communities. The SCA New Jersey program has hired nine apprentice crew leaders to date and five have gone on to lead crews in SCA’s summer and school-year programming. Of the six apprentices hired in Washington, D.C., two have advanced to leading summer crews, one has lead school year programming, and two others have worked with SCA in other field capacities. SCA will bring on five Apprentice Crew Leaders in Detroit this summer as well as a program coordinator.

“To serve again with SCA would be amazing, and to do it as an apprentice crew leader would be even more amazing,” states 19-year old Ashley Gomillion. “I’m very interested in working hand-in-hand with a crew leader, and to put my own experience to work, to make the summer enjoyable and productive for other teenagers like me.”

By providing underserved youth populations with summer employment, the Detroit Conservation Leadership Corps helps teens build occupational skills while expanding their career horizons. Studies show corps members also develop valuable workplace behavior skills including communication, teamwork, and individual responsibility, all while becoming active environmental stewards. Some 80 local youth are expected to participate in the corps this summer.

Participants work in parks and neighborhood green spaces city-wide. Past projects have included trail building in Eliza Howell Park and Rouge Park; developing outdoor classrooms with the East Michigan Environmental Action Council and WARM Training Center’s deconstruction initiative, and restoring habitat on Belle Isle Park in partnership with the Belle Isle Conservancy.

About The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan
The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a permanent community endowment build by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations committed to the future of southeast Michigan. The Foundation works to improve the region’s quality of life by connecting those who care with causes that matter. The Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development and civic affairs. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed more than $545 million through over 43,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston counties. For more information, please visit

About SCA
Since 1957, the Student Conservation Association has inspired more than 70,000 young people to
lifelong stewardship and sustainability and provided many with career training and opportunities. SCA is
a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. and maintains regional offices in Boise, ID,
Charlestown, NH, Chicago, IL, Oakland, CA, Pittsburgh, PA, and Seattle, WA. For more, logon at

# # #