Below are a some of the most frequently asked questions about serving in AmeriCorps.
I'm confused. There are different programs, with different names, but they're allAmeriCorps?
Yes, basically. AmeriCorps is a national network of hundreds of programs throughout the US. There are two programs that are managed nationally: AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps NCCC. The other group of programs come under the general heading of AmeriCorps, and they are found in local and national organizations throughout the US. Depending upon your interests and availability, we can help you determine which program might be best for you.
Is AmeriCorps like Peace Corps?
Yes. AmeriCorps is often referred to as "the domestic Peace Corps." Both agencies are committed to service, and both offer challenging and rewarding full-time opportunities. Peace Corps assignments are all overseas, and AmeriCorps members serve only in the US. While Peace Corps Volunteers serve for two years, a stint in AmeriCorps usually lasts 10 months to one year. (Some AmeriCorps projects also offer part-time opportunities, and some AmeriCorps members serve more than one term of service.)
Do I get paid?
For all AmeriCorps programs, members receive a modest living allowance, and some programs provide housing. You may not save much money during your year of service, but most members find the living allowance to be adequate to cover their needs. AmeriCorps members who complete a term of service also receive an AmeriCorps Education Award.
What if I'm out of school and not interested in the education award? Can I get that money in cash?
If you're part of AmeriCorps VISTA, you may opt for a cash payment of $100 per month of service instead of the education award. All other AmeriCorps members are eligible only for the education award.
How long are the assignments, and are they all full-time?
The time commitment varies, from ten months to a year, depending upon your project. Most assignments are full-time, but there are some part-time service opportunities available.
Can I join if I'm not a U.S. citizen?
You must be a U.S. citizen, national, or legal permanent resident alien of the U.S. to be an AmeriCorps member.
Is there an age requirement?
You must be at least 17 years old, although some service opportunities require you to be at least 18. For one of our programs, the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), members must be between 18 and 24 years old, but for most there are no upper age limits.
What skills do I need to have?
Some programs have specific skill requests in certain areas, and others look for a bachelor's degree or a few years of related volunteer/job experience. For others, your motivation and commitment may be the primary requirement.
Can I defer student loans during my service with AmeriCorps?
You may qualify for postponement, or forbearance, of the repayment of your loans during your service. The education award will help you pay off qualified student loans when you're finished. Contact your lender for more specific information or to confirm your loan status during AmeriCorps service.
Will I get any training before I start?
Absolutely. All members receive training at the beginning of their service, as well as project-specific training during service
Frequently Asked Questions About AmeriCorps NCCC
What is AmeriCorps NCCC?
AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is a residential, team-based, national service initiative that engages young adults ages 18 to 24 in full-time service. Operated directly by the Corporation for National and Community Service, AmeriCorps NCCC is part of a national network of service programs that help local communities address their compelling needs. There are currently more than 50,000 members serving in AmeriCorps NCCC, AmeriCorps VISTA, and over 900 other AmeriCorps State and National programs throughout the country.
What is the AmeriCorps NCCC mission?
The AmeriCorps NCCC mission is: To strengthen communities and develop leaders through team-based national and community service.
What do AmeriCorps NCCC members do?
AmeriCorps NCCC members perform team-based service projects in six different areas--environment, education, public safety, unmet needs, homeland security, and disaster relief--in communities in all 50 states and U.S. territories.
What are the benefits of serving with AmeriCorps NCCC?
AmeriCorps NCCC members receive a living allowance of approximately $4,000 for the 10 months of service (about $200 every two weeks before taxes), housing, meals, limited medical benefits, up to $400 a month for childcare, if necessary, member uniforms, and an education award of $4,725 upon successful completion of the program.
What organizations does NCCC support?
NCCC supports faith-based and other community-based organizations; national nonprofits; schools; local municipalities; national and state parks; and Indian tribes.
What do the medical benefits cover?
The medical benefits plan covers all injuries and/or illnesses suffered during service and most pharmacy needs. The plan does not cover medical care for pre-existing medical illnesses and/or injuries.
Can I bring my child/children with me to the campus?
Children are not permitted to live with members at the campus. AmeriCorps NCCC members with children must make arrangements for someone to care for their child/children while they are in the program. Members that have custody of their children are eligible for up to $400 per month to help pay for child care while they serve with the program.
What are the minimum requirements for participation in AmeriCorps NCCC?
Members are required to complete 1,700 hours of service, including 80 hours of independent service activities. Members must be able to serve effectively with a team of individuals from and within communities of diverse cultural, ethnic, economic, geographic, and education backgrounds. Members must be able to communicate, to some extent, in the English language with peers, supervisors, staff and other individuals. They must comply with the rules and regulations outlined in the AmeriCorps NCCC member handbook. Members must be able to perform physical labor, sometimes in stressful environments and adverse weather conditions. They must be willing to serve long hours beyond the eight-hour workday, deploy to any location in the region served by the campus, and be able to deal with sudden and unexpected changes.
What is required to successfully complete the program and receive the AmeriCorps Education Award?
Members must serve the full ten months and complete 1,700 hours of community service, including 80 hours of independent service. If a member departs the program early, he or she forfeits the education award unless there is a compelling reason, in which case the education award is pro-rated. Details are explained in the member handbook.
Where are AmeriCorps NCCC sites?
There are currently three campuses that serve four regions. Two are located on closed military bases in Sacramento, CA and Denver, CO. One campus is located at a Veterans Medical Center on the Chesapeake Bay in Perry Point, Maryland.
When do the AmeriCorps NCCC campuses open?
We have two start cycles: the fall and winter. The fall cycle campus is in Sacramento, and open in late September and early October. The winter cycle campuses are in Perry Point, and Denver, and open in January.
What states are covered by each region?
- Central Region: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.
- Eastern Region: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Vermont, West Virginia, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
- Western Region: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Pacific Territories.
- Gulf Coast States: Alabama, Florida, Texas Gulf Coast, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
What are the application deadline dates?
There are two deadline dates, one for the fall cycle-March 15-and one for the winter cycle--July 15. However, members are encouraged to apply early, because selection is continuous and the class may be filled before the application deadline date.
What are the selection process and criteria?
All eligible applicants will receive an acknowledgement letter and further information about the program within three weeks of submitting their application. They will be instructed to call a toll-free telephone number to continue the selection process. At this point the applicant will be screened for an interview based on his or her response to several questions about the applicant's willingness to participate in all aspects of the program. All applicants who successfully clear the interview screening are scheduled for an interview within five to six weeks of receipt of their the application.
- If invited to serve or placed on the alternate list, the applicant will have to respond within 10 days of receiving the letter by returning the confirmation form, a completed medical history form, and fingerprint card in a stamped, addressed envelope that is provided in the mailing.
- If we don�t hear from the applicant by the date identified, the applicant will be disqualified and ineligible for service with the NCCC for this specific term of service.
How long is the selection process or how long will it take before I find out the status of my application?
Our goal is to complete the selection process within two months of receiving the application. This means that two months after we receive an application, the applicant should know if he or she has been accepted, placed on the alternate list or not accepted. However, there are many instances when it may take longer than two months.
What is the ratio of applicants who actually get in?
In the past five years, we have received approximately four applications for every available member slot.
If I am assigned to the alternate list, what is the probability that I will be invited to serve?
We have invited at least 50 percent, if not a great deal more, of alternates to serve.
How long is the interview?
An interview generally lasts between 30 to 45 minutes. The timing depends on the person interviewing you and how you respond to the questions.
Once the interview is completed, when will I be notified of acceptance or denial?
The applicant is notified of the status of their interview within three weeks after completing the interview.
What questions will be asked during the interview and how should I prepare for the interview?
The questions will focus on things that will help us determine your interest and willingness to serve in a residential, team-based service program, flexibility and adaptability, collaboration and accountability and your personal goals. You can prepare for the interview by finding out as much as possible about the NCCC program. You should respond to the interview questions sincerely and honestly.
Will it be a group interview or one on one interview?
All interviews are conducted by telephone one on one with an NCCC staff member or team leader.
Can I serve with a friend?
Yes. We have a Serve with a Friend program that allows you to identify a friend who has also applied to the program. If both of you are accepted, you will be assigned to the same campus. However, you will not be assigned to the same team. Each campus has its own policies regarding roommates and living arrangements.
Can I pick the campus that I want to go to?
No. Campuses are assigned randomly.
Will I be placed at the campus that is conducting the interview?
Possibly. Campus assignments are random.
Can a person with a criminal background serve in the NCCC?
It depends on the offense. If someone has been found guilty of certain felonious criminal acts (i.e. acts of violence) he or she would probably not be eligible for the NCCC program.
Can I select my projects?
No. Projects are developed by staff and assigned to teams in ways that vary from campus to campus.
Will I be able to develop any projects?
All members have a requirement to complete 80 independent service hours (included in the total 1,700 hour requirement). These are projects that members can develop and execute on their own.
Can the 80 independent hours be completed in my home state during my vacation or other leave time?
Yes. Members should coordinate all independent service projects with the staff at the campus that is responsible for supporting members in this effort before they perform the service. This way the member will know beforehand if the proposed service activity will count towards the 80 hours required.
How many projects will each team do?
Each team will perform between four and six projects during the program year.
Will I do a project in each of the service areas?
The NCCC will make every effort to provide teams with a wide range of project experiences, but there is no guarantee that a team will complete a project in every service area.
What does "spike" mean?
A spike is a project that requires the team to establish temporary housing in the community where the project is being conducted because it is too far from the campus to travel to and from every day. Spike accommodations have included camping, military facilities, youth hostels, cabins, private residences, dormitories, etc. The team will live in that community for the duration of the project in whatever facilities that are provided.
How do teams get to project sites?
Teams travel to the project site in a 15-passenger van. Some team members will be certified as drivers. Certified drivers must attend a driver�s class and take a driver�s test at the campus. These are the only members who will be permitted to drive the NCCC vehicles.
Will I automatically be assigned to fire fighting?
No. All members receive basic disaster relief training like CPR and first aid, but members must qualify for fire fighting training by successfully completing an endurance test. Last year, approximately 16 percent of NCCC members were trained as firefighters.
Is it possible to receive college credit for participating in AmeriCorps?
Some members in the past have received credit for their service experience, but that is something that you must negotiate with your college or university.
If I don�t have my high school diploma, will the NCCC help me get my GED?
Yes. All members will develop an individual learning plan at the beginning of the year that outlines their personal learning goals while they are in the program. NCCC staff will then help the member develop a plan to achieve those personal learning goals, including getting a GED.
What skills will I learn while in the program?
Members will receive a variety of training and learn different skills through the service projects they perform. For instance, members who build houses will learn the fundamentals about framing a house, installing sheetrock, etc. Members who work with children in schools will learn about the most effective way to tutor in reading or math. Members will also receive CPR/First Aid and Disaster Relief certification training from the Red Cross, and leadership, conflict management, team-building, community building, and other training.
Are there other activities that will support my educational or personal development while in the program?
Members participate in service-learning activities that are designed to increase their understanding of the service they do, the communities where they serve, and the importance of civic responsibility. Examples of service-learning activities include doing research about a project that a team will do, participating in structured reflection sessions and keeping a journal about the NCCC experience, and developing a service project portfolio at the conclusion of each project. This service project portfolio is the written record of the service experience and summarizes the project activities, members� experiences, and what was accomplished.
Are members required to take a drug test?
Yes. AmeriCorps NCCC is a drug-free environment. All members are tested during the first week of reporting to the campus and randomly throughout the program year. Members who test positive for illegal drugs are dismissed from the program.
What are members' service hours?
Service hours are set by the particular project to which the team has been assigned; therefore they may vary. They can range from serving three weeks straight for 12 to 14 hours a day (such as disaster relief work or fire fighting, where the need is great) to serving hours that resemble more of a regular work week (Monday to Friday or Tuesday to Saturday, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM).
Will I have free time to do other things besides NCCC?
Yes. Whenever members are not at the project site or performing other NCCC-related activities they will have free time.
Is there a way I can talk with someone who has already served?
You can contact us at email@example.com, or call us at 1-800-942-2677, and we will help you make a connection with someone who is an alumni or is currently serving.
How can I best prepare for the NCCC?
Members should be ready to live and serve in a community setting with a highly diverse group of people. There will be rules and regulations to follow. Flexibility, initiative, and an open mind are key to having a successful AmeriCorps NCCC experience.
If accepted to the program will I have to pay for my transportation to the campus?
AmeriCorps NCCC will pay for your transportation to the campus from your home of record and back home when you have completed the program or whenever you leave the program permanently.
Do AmeriCorps NCCC members wear uniforms?
Yes. You are required to wear a uniform. Uniforms are issued to members when they report to the campus. The uniform colors are gray, black, and khaki. At a minimum, all members will receive the following items:
- BDU (battle dress uniform) pants--black & khaki
- Khaki shorts
- T-shirts (short and long-sleeve)
- Polo shirts (short and long-sleeve)
- Hooded sweatshirt
- Winter parka
- Steel-toed work boots
- Baseball cap
- Fleece vest
Other uniform items may also be provided depending on the campus where you are assigned.
When do members wear uniforms?
Uniforms must be worn at all times when on duty. Duty times include all service days, training days, team, unit and community meetings, and while on desk or driver duty or any other time when representing AmeriCorps NCCC.
Can I bring my pets and personal items like my cell phone and computer?
Pets are strictly prohibited. You may bring your cell phone and your computer; however you will be responsible for the safekeeping of these items. Each campus has a computer lab for members and there are pay phones in the residence halls or dormitories where members live.
Can I bring my car to the campus?
Yes. However, you will not be allowed to take your car with you when you go on a spike project.
Can my parents visit me at the campus, if I am selected to serve?
Yes, but they cannot stay on the campus. They would have to stay in a hotel or with friends/family off the campus.
What kind of supervision is there at the campus?
Each campus is fully staffed and led by a region director. Members, assigned to teams, report directly to a team leader, and teams are assigned to a unit that is lead by a unit leader. The unit leader is directly responsible for the safety and well-being of the members in his or her unit. Approximately 30 percent of the staff are retired military personnel.
What breaks or vacations do I get?
Members who attend the fall cycle will have a winter break that starts at the end of the year just before Christmas and goes through the New Year. Members who attend the winter cycle will have a summer break that will occur around the 4th of July. There is also a spring break that is a long weekend (Friday and Monday off) that will occur sometime in April or May depending on the campus. Members will also be off on certain other holidays such as Thanksgiving, Labor Day, and Memorial Day.