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Heart of Oregon Corps boosts stipends, urges young adults to apply for workforce training programs

Heart of Oregon Corps

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Heart of Oregon Corps is taking action during these times of inflation and increased housing costs to support the young people in our community.

HOC is announcing major increases in its stipend-based job training programs this fall. Increases of stipends are increasing about 30% for two AmeriCorps National Service-based HOC programs: YouthBuild and High Desert Conservation Corps.

Youth and young adults in these programs earn stipends while learning job skills during AmeriCorps service. AmeriCorps service projects include constructing affordable housing, supporting non-profit childcare centers, and improving public lands. After completion, young adults also earn a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, a benefit similar to a scholarship that lasts seven years and can go towards higher education or vocational certifications.

“These increases will help provide financial support to our young people to relieve barriers to participation that they are currently experiencing in our communities, “said Kara Johnson, Deputy Director.  She continued, “By law, AmeriCorps members must earn a stipend vs an hourly wage, but we worked to target stipend increases to a minimum wage equivalent. When the AmeriCorps Education Award is added in as a benefit, it’s actually more like $17-$18/hr equivalent in total benefits!”

Heart of Oregon is supporting these increases with community support, AmeriCorps and Dept. of Labor grant funding, State workforce grant funding, new Oregon Conservation Corps grant funding (part of the Senate Bill 762 wildfire legislation), and the long-established relationships with service project partners like Bend Parks and Rec, Trout Unlimited, Oregon Dept. of Forestry, Bureau of Land Management, and, especially, the US Forest Service Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests. Recent legislation like the Great American Outdoors Act and Inflation Reduction Act helps increase public lands funding on projects that engage youth corps like Heart of Oregon Corps.

Along with these changes, HOC is renaming their “AmeriCorps” program to the “High Desert Conservation Corps.” This program, which started in 2006, is a year-round, non-residential young adult conservation corps. That means that central Oregon-based young adults serve on dynamic, local crews that leave and return daily to improve public lands right in their own backyards.

“HOC is excited about this program name change as it directly recognizes this high desert region in which our young people live, serve, and play,” said Program Director, Patrick Orr. “As part of the High Desert Conservation Corps, local young adults will have pride in their AmeriCorps service and know it has ripple effects beyond our public lands, benefiting all those who call this area home.”

Projects in the High Desert Conservation Corps include fire fuel reduction, trail maintenance, invasive species control, habitat restoration, and fencing. Both part-time and full-time positions are available with term lengths varying from 3 months ($6,300 Stipend + $1,718 Education Award) to 5 months ($9,000 stipend + $2,474 Education Award). Young adults can enroll in multiple terms.  

YouthBuild, Heart of Oregon’s other AmeriCorps-based program, was started in 2009. In YouthBuild, youth ages 16-24 earn their GED, high school diploma, or college credits while learning job skills through building affordable houses or working with children and youth at nonprofit childcare centers and day camps. These youth can earn up to $8,500 over a program year while completing high school, plus a $1,718 Education Award.

Both YouthBuild and the High Desert Conservation Corps are currently accepting applications for their new cohorts!

Young adults ages 16-24 in Deschutes, Crook, and Jefferson County looking for jobs, national service positions, or high school equivalency programs are invited to apply online. No experience is necessary and all abilities are welcome. Detailed descriptions and applications for HOC’s job opportunities can be found on Heart of Oregon’s website at If you are not sure what program is best suited for you give Heart of Oregon staff a call at (541) 633-7834.

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