Skip to main content

President announces Michigan’s MI Healthy Climate Corps as an inaugural member of the American Climate Corps on Earth Day

Five Michiganders joined federal officials Monday for an event celebrating the creation of the American Climate Corps and federal climate action --- Corps member Za’Nyia Kelly of Detroit shares her story, introduces President Biden

Michigan’s brand new MI Healthy Climate Corps kicked off Earth Week in the national spotlight as part of a White House-led celebration in Virginia where corps member Za’Nyia Kelly of Detroit introduced President Joe Biden to the crowd.

The Monday afternoon Earth Day event at Prince William Forest National Park in Triangle, Virginia, recognized the federal AmeriCorps agency for national service and volunteerism and the many ways its members tackle the climate crisis through service, including through the new American Climate Corps (ACC). The MI Healthy Climate Corps was announced as an official ACC affiliate and recognized at the event as its members serve through AmeriCorps under the ACC umbrella.

Selected from among the invitees to welcome the president to the stage, Kelly shared a bit of her life story growing up in Detroit where reliable, affordable transportation was scarce. She told the audience about suffering second-degree frostbite to her toes one day in 10th grade when the bus didn’t arrive and she had to walk miles through the snow.

“These experiences inspired me to combine my passions for improving both the environment and public transit systems as an AmeriCorps member,” she said. “After graduating from Michigan State University last May, I now proudly serve in the MI Healthy Climate Corps.”

Kelly’s corps assignment is with Transportation Riders United as a transit outreach specialist. She has devoted more than 17 years to climate and environmental advocacy as well as racial justice activism, driving positive change in her hometown and beyond. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences from Michigan State University and is a member-owner of the Detroit People’s Food Co-op, opening in May as the first Black-led community-owned grocery store cooperative in the city.

“For young environmentalists like me,” she said just before the president joined her onstage, “it means so much to know that we have a president who understands the importance of climate change, clean energy, and climate justice.”

AmeriCorps featured Kelly in its own press release from Monday’s event. In a video of the event, Kelly speaks at about the 20-minute mark.

Two of Kelly’s fellow corps members from the state program’s first cohort of 30 also were invited to the event:

  • Daniel Arini, from Plymouth, is a climate fellow with Let’s Grow Michigan within the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. He holds a University of Michigan-Dearborn bachelor’s degree in environmental studies with a resources policy and management focus. Arini plans to become an environmental macro social worker partnering with state and local community stakeholders to advance nature- and community-based research, policy, and placemaking programs. “The MI Healthy Climate Corps is important to me because it represents a turning point in my professional career toward one of my ultimate goals: addressing climate change in a meaningful way at the state level,” Arini said.
  • Jacob Bol, of Grand Rapids, is a restoration ecology fellow with Calvin University’s Plaster Creek Stewards in Grand Rapids. He earned his bachelor’s degree in social work from Calvin and has worked as a community health social worker. Involved in local restoration of rare ecosystems such as prairie fens and oak savannas, Bol hopes to continue restoring local ecosystems in the future. “It was incredibly meaningful yesterday to engage with other members of the Climate Corps and meet current leaders in the climate movement,” Bol said Tuesday. “As a member of the MI Healthy Climate Corps, it makes me incredibly excited and hopeful for the future of conservation in Michigan to witness the passion and commitment of my fellow service members, and I feel inspired to make an even deeper change in my local community upon returning home.”

The three were joined by Ginna Holmes, executive director of the Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC) in the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), and Jordan Power, climate action officer in the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s (EGLE) Office of Climate and Energy (OCE). Holmes runs the state’s AmeriCorps programs, and Power helps manage the MI Healthy Climate Corps program.

“When we launched the first cohort of the MI Healthy Climate Corps a month ago, I never expected that one of our members would soon be introducing President Biden on Earth Day,” Power said. “However, when I look at the depth of expertise, infectious energy, and unapologetic commitment of our members, it is clear that they deserve this recognition on the national stage.”

In addition to hearing from President Biden and speakers including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, attendees networked with AmeriCorps leaders and members from around the country.

“It was an honor to be among such influential people and to hear that climate justice initiatives were personal to them,” Kelly said. “It’s truly invaluable to have leadership that puts sustainable climate action at the forefront of every decision, and it’s clear that the intention of climate corps is to foster such climate leaders.”

Michigan leaders respond

  • “We appreciate the Biden-Harris Administration’s support for climate corps programs like our newly launched MI Healthy Climate Corps. The MI Healthy Climate Corps members are working to build their leadership skills while making a real difference in the communities where they live, work, and play. This program is a prime example of Michigan’s national climate leadership expressed in real-world, community-based action.” – EGLE Director Phil Roos
  • “The MI Healthy Climate Corps is building a statewide community of climate champions who will drive climate action not only among corps members and host partners but throughout the state. We’re excited to be a part of a bigger movement to drive climate action across America through the American Climate Corps, and we’re proud to have had our members Za’Nyia, Jacob, and Daniel represent us for Earth Day with President Biden.” – Michigan Chief Climate Officer Cory Connolly
  • “It is expected that over 200 AmeriCorps members will be engaged in direct climate action and environmental protection through Michigan’s Climate Corps programs by this summer. We are proud to help lead these efforts in Michigan and look forward to seeing the impact the AmeriCorps members make across the state.” – LEO’s MCSC Executive Director Ginna Holmes

About the MI Healthy Climate Corps

The MI Healthy Climate Corps is a select Michigan-based network of climate professionals committed to advancing the ambitious climate goals in the state’s MI Healthy Climate Plan (MHCP).

Launched in March 2024, the corps is building climate action capacity statewide through leadership, workforce training, and guiding federal and state resources to communities in greatest need.

Corps members work with host partners in state agencies, local governments, and nonprofit organizations from all over Michigan. The corps’ first cohort serves through November 2024. A second cohort will begin this fall.

MI Healthy Climate Corps members benefit from career-focused networking, training, and professional experience as they focus on access to federal and state resources supporting clean energy, Environmental Justice, environmental restoration, sustainability, transit, and more.

EGLE’s OCE launched the corps in partnership with the MCSC within LEO. The nonprofit Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM) manages the corps.

The program builds on state leadership in clean energy jobs. Michigan leads the Midwest in clean energy job growth, with nearly 124,000 clean energy workers. The clean energy job sector grew by nearly 5% from 2021-22, almost twice the growth rate of the overall economy.

The MI Healthy Climate Corps is one of eight AmeriCorps programs that comprise the Michigan Climate Corps (MCC), focused on climate intervention and funded through the MCSC, some already operating and some in planning stages. In addition to the MI Healthy Climate Corps, programs up and running are:

  • AmeriCorps Climate Ready at Wayne State University. 
  • The Ann Arbor Climate Corps. 
  • The Huron Pines AmeriCorps Program.
  • The YouthWork Climate and Conservation Corps.

Planned are:

  • The Central Michigan University Rural Resiliency Corps. 
  • The Michigan Sustainable Business Forum AmeriCorps. 
  • The SEEDs Ecology and Education Centers AmeriCorps Program. 

By summer 2024, more than 200 AmeriCorps members are expected to be engaged in direct climate action and environmental conservation through MCC programs throughout Michigan. More information is available from Amanda Scott, AmeriCorps program officer for the MCC, at  

About the American Climate Corps

The ACC is a partnership among seven federal agencies: the departments of Commerce, Interior, Agriculture, Labor, and Energy; the Environmental Protection Agency; and AmeriCorps. President Biden created the corps to fight the climate crisis today and prepare young Americans for the clean energy and climate resilience jobs of tomorrow.

The ACC also serves as an umbrella organization for state climate corps programs, including Michigan’s, giving corps members a streamlined pathway to federal climate and clean energy jobs.

Also announced Monday were a partnership with North America’s Building Trades Unions for pre-apprenticeship programs and a collaborative with Bloomberg Philanthropies to place ACC members in frontline/coal communities. Frontline communities are those that experience the most immediate and worst impacts of climate change and are most often communities of color, indigenous, or low-income.

Within weeks of announcing the ACC in September 2023, the White House said it received interest from more than 50,000 Americans representing all 50 states and U.S. territories. 

At Monday’s event, President Biden announced that Americans can apply to become the first members of the corps through a new website, The program currently is recruiting for more than 2,000 positions in 36 states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.