The City of Peoria Public Works Department is launching a new AmeriCorps-funded program this fall. The City’s Innovation Team and Public Works Department designed the initiative, called Peoria Corps.
The new 24-week apprenticeship program will be funded in part with a 3-year annual grant of $138,285 from AmeriCorps. The city is matching $100,000 in the first year coupled with a $200,000 state economic development grant. The city still needs to find funding to match the AmeriCorps money in the second and third years.
The Peoria Corps program was designed to tackle several issues simultaneously. It will provide a career track for 18-24 year-olds who have been out of school and unemployed for at least six-months. The 20-program participants will learn neighborhood beautification skills and how to apply green solutions to reduce the city’s combined sewer overflow issues.
“They’ll get a certificate of green infrastructure training, on how to maintain green infrastructure at the end of the program, that’s one of the requirements. After that, there will be opportunities for them upon completion for maintenance,” Public Works Director Scott Reeise said.
Reeise says the additional 20 trained workers will also help alleviate strain on his department, which is largely aging out of the workforce.
“If we can get young folks educated on maintenance activities and how we’re moving forward and what our jobs are going to be in the next twenty years, it allows us a pipeline of people to be able to work for us,” Reeise said.
Reeise says in the streets and sewers department, the average age of employees hovers in the mid-50s.
The Public Works Department is currently reviewing applications to hire a program director. The $60,000 salaried position will be responsible for selecting participants, and coordinating projects and job trainings.
Reeise says he hopes to launch Peoria Corps by October.