As part of an ambitious initiative to engage and employ the next generation through America's great outdoors, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced a public-private partnership with American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. that will help reach Interior's goal of providing 100,000 work and training opportunities to young people and veterans on public lands.
American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (AEO) announced an historic $1 million commitment to develop the next generation of outdoor stewards. The funding commitment is the first in AEO's philanthropic history and is also the first pledge toward Jewell's target of raising $20 million from private partners by 2017 to support the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC).
The 21CSC, launched by the Obama Administration as part of the America's Great Outdoors program, is a national collaborative effort to put America's youth and veterans to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing America's natural and cultural resources.
Jewell made the announcement today at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C., in recognition of the Civilian Conservation Corps that President Roosevelt created over 80 years ago.
"What we're doing today embodies the spirit of President Roosevelt's CCC -- coming together to put young people and veterans to work on our public lands which will instill a lifelong conservation ethic that not only benefits them, but our public lands and our country," said Secretary Jewell. "American Eagle Outfitters has a long history of philanthropy, conservation and volunteerism and I applaud them for this unprecedented commitment to the youth initiative. This lays a strong foundation toward reaching our goal to provide positive experiences for young people and veterans on our public lands that offer both employment and meaningful connections to the outdoors."
The $1 million dollars will directly support non-profit corps programs that provide work and training experience to young people and veterans on Interior's public lands, such as the Student Conservation Association.
"American Eagle Outfitters is proud to support the conservation of public lands through America's youth," said Helga Ying, Vice President of External Engagement and Social Responsibility, American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. "This public-private partnership is one close to our customers' hearts and directly reinforces our company's community engagement principles. Through this initiative, we are able to provide opportunities for students to work together to protect our planet and improve our country through a deeper connection to nature, civic engagement and community development."
Already an initial group of nearly 100 organizations have been approved as partner organizations to stand up the 21CSC and provide work opportunities through supervised crews or small teams. In the coming months, the 21CSC National Council, made up of eight federal departments and agencies including the Departments of Agriculture and Interior, will focus on recruiting additional member organizations.
"Partners like American Eagle Outfitters' are critical to the Administration's efforts to conserve our public lands and to connect a new generation of Americans to the great outdoors," said Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture. "We are grateful for this contribution to the 21CSC initiative, and look forward to continuing to build public and private sector support to grow this initiative and engage more young people and veterans in important conservation work."
Jewell first outlined her youth initiative in a speech at the National Press Club in October where she emphasized the need to bridge the growing disconnect between young people and the great outdoors. The goals of Interior's youth initiative for the next four years include:
Play: Interior will develop or enhance outdoor recreation partnerships in a total of 50 cities over the next four years to create new, systemic opportunities for outdoor play for more than 10 million young people.
Learn: Provide educational opportunities to at least 10 million of the nation's K-12 student population annually. In addition to welcoming students into nature's classroom, we are developing and strengthening new online education resources, to reach more students.
Serve: Engage 1 million volunteers annually on public lands, effectively tripling the numbers we have now. We know that many more people are interested in volunteering at national parks, wildlife refuges and public lands, but there are often insufficient staff resources to coordinate them. In order to achieve the volunteer goal, we will place a renewed emphasis on volunteer coordination and management.
Work: To develop the next generation of lifelong conservation stewards and ensure our own skilled and diverse workforce pipeline, Interior will provide 100,000 work & training opportunities to young people within our bureaus and through public-private partnerships. As part of this effort, we aim to raise an additional $20 million to support the youth work and training opportunities.