To develop and manage an AmeriCorps Program is a big decision. There are many factors to consider, but you shouldn’t let the below reasons deter you! AmeriCorps Programs bring dedicated community members to address real needs throughout Nevada. Nevada Volunteers is here to help you develop and implement a great program and give community members the ability to connect with your organization, your mission, and your community–creating a stronger Nevada.
1) We don’t have the capacity to manage a federal grant
The policies and procedures needed to manage federal grants strengthen organizations. Don’t have them in place yet? Apply for a planning grant. Nevada Volunteers will provide funding of up to $75,000 for your organization to spend up to 12 months developing these policies and procedures so that you can manage federal grants. During this time, you will attend Nevada AmeriCorps trainings specifically designed to improve organizational and program capacity, meet other AmeriCorps program directors from across the state, and work with consultants who understand AmeriCorps. You’ll come to the end of the year with the policies and procedures in place to run an impactful AmeriCorps program, and your organization will become much stronger in the process.
2) The risk is too great
There is a risk that comes with accepting federal grant funds. Tax payers are understandably concerned that federal tax dollars are used effectively and efficiently. In recent years, the federal government has worked to streamline financial guidance and adjusted how disallowances are issued. We’d be happy to talk to you about more about these changes. Now, the biggest disallowances possible come from failure to comply with policies designed to protect the most vulnerable populations we serve. Protecting these clients is incredibly important and your organization should have these protections in place regardless of if you manage federal funds or not. If you have a culture that focuses on the safety of the clients you serve, the processes required by the federal government will fit in with it.
3) We don’t have the match
New AmeriCorps programs are required to match federal funds at 24%, but there are many ways to achieve this match. AmeriCorps State funds can be matched with cash, including funds from others federal grants, or third party in-kind contributions. If you have other federal grants, speak with your funder about using those funds as match for an AmeriCorps Program. You likely also have third-party, skills-based volunteers who will be providing support to your AmeriCorps program and their time and talents have tangible value. You can include the value of volunteer services contributed to the AmeriCorps program for organizational functions such as accounting, audit work, legal work, or training as match. Think strategically about how to leverage the assets you already have to meet the match for an AmeriCorps program.
4) We don’t need AmeriCorps members, we have volunteers
AmeriCorps members are people who have decided to dedicate up to a year of their life specifically to the service of the community. They are a devoted, dedicated group of people, and while all volunteers are great, bringing their time, talent and treasure to our communities, AmeriCorps members agree in advance to serve for up to 1700 hours and one full year. Reaching their hour goal makes them eligible for an education award they can use to pay off student loans or to attend college or trade school. This makes AmeriCorps members a more reliable and driven force than volunteers. AmeriCorps members become informed, involved citizens who make communities stronger and bring additional resources into Nevada communities. They will make your organization stronger too.
5) AmeriCorps is too complicated —VISTA, NCCC, AmeriCorps State, what’s the difference?
Trust us, we know that national service can be complicated! Below we have broken down the three types of AmeriCorps programs. If you still have questions, move through our AmeriCorps Decision Matrix, or give us a call, 775-825-1900. We can help you determine which stream of national service will work best for your organization.
• AmeriCorps State programs are for organizations who want members to engage in direct service like mentoring children, repairing hiking trails or helping community members access health services. Usually AmeriCorps State programs have at least 10 members. Smaller programs are possible, and require approval from Nevada Volunteers. If this is what you are looking for, apply for an AmeriCorps State grant here: http://nevadavolunteers.org/americorps/americorps-funding/notice-of-funding-opportunities/
• AmeriCorps VISTA programs are for organizations who want a small number of members for organizational or programmatic capacity building only. These members do not provide direct services. They also must be working on poverty alleviation. If this is what you are looking for, view more information on AmeriCorps VISTA here: http://nevadavolunteers.org/about-americorps/americorps-vista/
• AmeriCorps NCCC sends teams of members to work on specific projects for short terms (3-8 weeks). These members might work on cleaning up a school over the summer or deploy to natural disasters. For more information about NCCC visit: https://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/americorps-programs/americorps-nccc/sponsor-americorps-nccc-team