The new AmeriCorps program in Peoria is officially off the ground and ready to take on some of the city’s most pressing challenges.
The PeoriaCorps program aims to provide paid job training and opportunities for unemployed youth, ages 18-24. They’ll be working on green infrastructure projects for the next six months, and they’ll complete the program with credentials from the National Green Infrastructure Certification Program.
Program Director Jamila Wilson says by the end of those six months, she hopes to prove that Peoria has a wealth of local talent and resources to thrive.
“It’s what I really love about Peoria Corps, is we’re investing in our own,” Wilson said. “These young people come from the community. They’ll be working the jobs that will beautify the community and make this a desirable place to live.”
All 10 PeoriaCorps participants are African American, which is also an important component. It comes a year after Peoria was named the worst place for black people to live, based on data like disparities in unemployment and wages.
Kaneisha Little says she’s thrilled to be part of the program.
“I love nature, I love coming outside. And it’s the perfect job because I get to be outside, I mean, who wants to be at a desk all the time?,” Little said.
Little says she’s interested in working for the Park District, but she’s also taking classes at ICC, in cosmetology or massage therapy.
The green infrastructure projects, like rain gardens, are designed to divert storm water from sewers. That’s one of the ways the city is looking to prevent raw sewage from flowing into the Illinois River during periods of heavy rain.