Affinity Programs

Working to Diversify the Outdoors

Northwest Youth Corps believes diversity is a key source of strength for our communities, and we strive to create a safe and empowering environment for participants from a wide range of backgrounds and abilities. We are deeply invested in the success of youth and young adults of all races, ethnicities, gender identities, religions, sexual orientations, economic statuses, or other socio-cultural identifiers. A key element of our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is fielding single-identity affinity crews and internships to support communities historically under-served in the outdoor space.

Single-identity crews are designed to create access to a Corps experience for populations that may be underserved in the Corps community. These programs give participants an opportunity to learn and develop skills alongside peers and Crew Leaders with whom they can relate; Corpsmembers can feel supported and empowered in expressing their true selves in a way they might not experience on a “mixed” crew. These programs also help integrate the identities of these members into the larger environmental movement.

Affinity offerings

ASL INLCUSION CREWs

Northwest Youth Corps established its first American Sign Language (ASL) Inclusion Crew in 2013 to provide workplace education and job-training to Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) youth.

NYC’s ASL Inclusion Crew model offers Deaf young people a safe, supportive and accessible environment in which to earn a money, gain valuable work experience, and develop leadership and teamwork skills.

Youth Program Info

The ASL Inclusion Crews follow our Youth Camping program structure and combine education and job skill training with outdoor adventure for 16 to 18 year olds. With the guidance of experienced field staff, youth crew members work on conservation, reforestation, and recreation projects, while developing leadership skills and learning how to work as a team. Crews camp in the field for their entire session, traveling to new projects often week and recreating on the weekends. 

Rainbow LGBTQ+ CREWs

Unlike some facets of identity, such as perceived race or ability, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or “questioning” are often an invisible demographic. Our move to create a single-identity LGBTQ+ crew began when we recognized the need to be much more purposeful in supporting this community. 

The Rainbow Crew provides a space for LGBTQ+ young people to be themselves, share stories and discuss common challenges among their peers.  Many alumni of the Rainbow Crew have decided to build upon their experience by later joining our traditional (non-inclusion) programming.

Youth Program Info

The Youth Rainbow LGBTQ+ Inclusion Crews follow our Youth Camping program structure and combine education and job skill training with outdoor adventure for 16 to 18 year olds. With the guidance of experienced field staff, youth crew members work on conservation, reforestation, and recreation projects, while developing leadership skills and learning how to work as a team. Crews camp in the field for their entire session, traveling to new projects often week and recreating on the weekends. 

Young Adult Program Info

The Young Adult (ages 19+) Rainbow LGBTQ+ Inclusion Crews follow our young adult program model  and are designed to provide hands-on training and experience to those interested in pursuing employment with conservation corps, land and water resource management agencies, and other outdoor careers. This program integrates team-based work projects, education, and on-site vocational training into an experience that prioritizes personal development and conservation work skills.

Tribal Stewards CREWs

Our Tribal Stewards Inclusion Crews aim to inspire the next generation of Tribal land stewards. Tribal Stewards leaders and members complete work projects for up to 40-hours a week with the guidance and mentorship of trained conservation professionals. Emphasis is placed on holistic development, on the basis that healthy land supports healthy people.

Program Elements Include:
• Connecting with tribal homelands in Usual and Accustomed areas
• Culturally relevant educational lessons
• Natural resource education
• Supporting health and fitness through conservation work
• Engaging with natural resource professionals from both Federal and Tribal Governments

Youth Program info

The Tribal Stewards Inclusion Crews follow our Youth Camping program structure and combine education and job skill training with outdoor adventure for 16 to 18 year olds. With the guidance of experienced field staff, youth crew members work on conservation, reforestation, and recreation projects, while developing leadership skills and learning how to work as a team. Crews camp in the field for their entire session, traveling to new projects often week and recreating on the weekends. 

All-WOmen's CREWs

Our All-Women’s Crews provide women (including cisgender and trans-women) who have historically been excluded from conservation and outdoor careers, the opportunity to gain job-skills and exposure to careers in parks and natural resource management.

Young Adult Program info

In 2023 we will offer two all-women’s crew, one will operate out of our Idaho Conservation Corps (ICC) branch and the other will run out of our Washington branch. Both crews will serve from mid-March through the end of May. The crew will carry out conservation projects under the supervision of a trained and experienced female crewleader, with other conservation professionals providing project guidance and mentoring.

In addition to the scheduled work projects, participants will learn more about careers through education provided by staff, who will also help these young women identify potential pathways to implement their goals. Young adults receive a living allowance and an AmeriCorps Education Award upon the successful completion of the program.

Video from our 2022 All-Women’s Crew

Sound to Summit CREWs

Sound To Summit offers Tacoma and Olympia area teens a five-week career development, conservation, and civic engagement work-experience. The program is comprised of 4 weeks of local conservation projects followed by a week-long trip to Mount Rainier National Park. 

Sound to Summit Program info

Sound to Summit crews are comprised of youth (15-18) and two adult leaders. crews work for five weeks in total. The first four weeks follow our traditional Youth Community crew format, where crews work with the local city and county parks departments completing a variety of local community conservation projects. Youth meet each morning (Monday-Friday) at the crew vehicle which is centrally located in town, complete around 6.5 hours of work, have one hour of education, and then return to the original meeting location. The crews’ fifth week will take them to Mount Rainier National Park to complete conservation projects, recreate, and learn about natural resources and the outdoors.