Commission AmeriCorps State Fixed Amount Grants FY 2012
American YouthWorks (AYW) Environmental Corps (E-Corps) Program proposes to expand its existing disaster relief and recovery efforts with this application to create the Texas Emergency Response Team. Two teams consisting of 10 AmeriCorps members (20 members per year, 60 total over 3 years) will be trained and ready for rapid deployment in response to disasters across Texas. This initiative will build upon our strong partnerships with Texas Forest Service, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, US Fish & Wildlife Service Fire and Disaster Response teams, TDEM, FEMA and many local, state and national partners and public land management agencies across Texas. AYW is well positioned to be a critical component of the response to natural and manmade disasters, mitigate their circumstances and increase community resiliency. Through our extensive experience in Disaster response, relief and conservation work, AYW has demonstrated extreme competence in the delivery of highly skilled young people to the heart of disaster areas. Our work has included immediate disaster response, relief and recovery efforts as well as fire fuels mitigation and wildfire prevention work in addition to a variety of other conservation and ecosystem restoration projects completed in conjunction with many public partners and land management agencies. AYW has a long history of safely directing and delivering technical conservation work as is often needed in the preparedness, clean up and recovery phases of disasters. Our trainings and well-organized team structure and crew model have proven effective in building the leadership skills of our AmeriCorps Members serving in our Environmental Corps. As we demonstrated in disaster response efforts this past year in Joplin, MO and Bastrop, TX; our crews are able to arrive at the site of disasters and immediately begin delivering much needed expertise in the registration and coordination of well-meaning, unaffiliated volunteers who flow into the affected communities, needing direction and guidance on how best to help the affected victims. The certifications, training and experience our corps members receive in chainsaw safety and operations, wildfire behavior, leadership, conservation and habitat restoration techniques and safe handling of heavy and hazardous materials all lend to the services needed on the scene following disasters, whether natural or manmade. During the training phase, all members will be engaged in the trainings necessary for them to provide effective service in the field during times of need. When disaster strikes, crews in response mode will arrive on site, ready to begin the process of volunteer coordination and/or direct service (i.e. tree and debris removal, sandbagging, etc.) that allows for the reestablishment of infrastructure systems in the area. When not engaged in response efforts, crews will continue to assist in recovery efforts in Bastrop County and beyond, leading volunteer groups in the rebuilding and restoration process. AmeriCorps members will work on mitigation activities with partners and organize volunteer work days to gain experience. At any given time, corpsmembers operating under this grant will be working in these separate teams towards these ends or grouped together for a more powerful response. Throughout their year of service, AmeriCorps members will engage in coordinated activities to teach volunteer management and to build their AmeriCorps identity that will generate hundreds of volunteers to build the corpsmembers foundation for managing this valuable resource and prepare members for management in time of disaster. With AYW's experience developing powerful AmeriCorps experiences and extensive network of partners, we are prepared to create this corps that will serve Texas well and the AmeriCorps members well.