AmeriCorps Program Readiness Resources

AmeriCorps Program Readiness Resources

There are many systems that an AmeriCorps grantee would need to develop in order to manage a high quality program that is in compliance with grant requirements. The California Volunteers AmeriCorps Program Readiness Certification identifies elements of readiness for AmeriCorps program implementation and member management. Below are 10 key program development systems/materials that all programs must have in place prior to implementing a California Volunteers-funded AmeriCorps program. The resources listed are provided for training purposes and are offered as supports as you design or update materials for your particular program. As you are tailoring your own materials, please be sure to consult the AmeriCorps Program Readiness Certification, the AmeriCorps regulations, and the latest terms and conditions. Check in with your California Volunteers Program Officer if you have any questions on any of this. Click on the following checklist items to navigate to the resources available on this page.

National Service Criminal History Checks Policy and Procedure

Under the National and Community Service Act of 1990, as amended by the Serve America Act (SAA), AmeriCorps grantees must conduct National Service Criminal History checks on all covered employees and AmeriCorps members who receive a salary, national service education award, living allowance, or stipend under CNCS grants, even if the activities don't involve service with vulnerable populations. An individual is ineligible to serve in a position that receives such CNCS funding if the individual is registered, or required to be registered, as a sex offender or has been convicted of murder.

Grantees must have a written criminal background check policy and procedure that ensures the minimum CNCS and California Volunteers requirements are met as outlined in Exhibit H, “National Service Criminal History Checks Certification Form.” Exhibit H describes California Volunteers’ NSCHC policy, which include requirements that exceed the minimum federal requirements.

Below are resources to help your program meet National Service Criminal History Check requirements for AmeriCorps members and staff working on the grant. Follow the CV NSCHC Steps Checklist to ensure all required steps are completed. Use the Background Check Tracker to track checks for all AmeriCorps members and covered staff. The CV NSCHC Verification Form can be used as documentation that staff and memeber checks have been completed correctly. All other items are for reference. Contact your PO if you have questions.

Please note: California Volunteers NSCHC requirements exceed the minimum federal requirements established by CNCS. California Volunteers’ NSCHC policy is found in your grantee contract, Exhibit H, National Service Criminal History Checks Certification Form (see link in resource section below). Please keep this in mind when reviewing CNCS' FAQs and NSCHC resources, as not all information provided by CNCS applies to CV AmeriCorps State programs (e.g. accompaniment or timing of when State and FBI checks must be initiated and cleared, etc.).​

AmeriCorps Member Application

Grantees must have an AmeriCorps member application that addresses minimum eligibility requirements, previous terms of national service (AmeriCorps State and National, NCCC, VISTA) served, and consent to undergo National Service Criminal History Checks. Grantees are strongly recommended to use the existing online member application available through the My AmeriCorps Portal; however, they may choose to develop and use a separate application template in addition to the one in the Portal.

Member Service Agreement or Contract

The AmeriCorps member service agreement thoroughly describes the relationship between an individual (an AmeriCorps member) and the AmeriCorps program, and it is a requirement in the AmeriCorps Grant Terms and Conditions. AmeriCorps members must receive, read, and agree to all elements of the service agreement before they begin service.

Member Position Description

A member position description is a required component of the member service agreement. It should accurately, completely, and specifically describe the activities to be performed by each AmeriCorps member. Each AmeriCorps member must have a position description on file before she/he begins service. Member Position descriptions are required to be listed on the My AmeriCorps Portal. Member position descriptions must also be available for inspection by California Volunteers and CNCS staff, and as part of an audit or investigation of the CNCS Office of Inspector General.

Member Pre-Service Orientation Plan

Member Service Orientation is a required critical component of member management. Grantees are required to conduct an orientation for members. This orientation should be designed to enhance member security and sensitivity to the community and must cover all the elements listed in the CV AmeriCorps Program Readiness Checklist for Member Pre-Service Orientation Plan.

Member Training Plan

Throughout the service year grantees are required to implement a training plan for members and ensure that members are getting adequate supervision and support from their sites. The training plan must cover core training topics required to equip members with any basic knowledge and skills needed to deliver high quality service, on-going training to enhance service delivery throughout the service year, and training that will assist members in their transition to life after AmeriCorps. Providing regular in-service trainings on relevant topics, offering teambuilding and connection a peer network, rewarding members throughout their terms, ensuring that members are getting quality supervision, offering frequent opportunities to reflect on service and instill an ethic of service, and providing “Life After AmeriCorps” training are core components of an AmeriCorps training and member support plan.

Member Performance Evaluation

Performance evaluations are required and are an important part of a member development plan when combined with providing feedback to members. Grantees must conduct and keep a record of at least a mid-term and an end-of-term written evaluation on full-time and half-time members and an end-of-term written evaluation for less than half-time members.

Site Supervisor Orientation and Training Plan

Effective site management is a critical component of a successful AmeriCorps program. This starts with having a strong orientation and training and technical assistance plan for site supervisors that addresses key elements listed in the California Volunteers AmeriCorps Program Readiness Checklist.

AmeriCorps Member Timesheets

Grantees are required to document member eligibility for in-service and post-service benefits through timesheets and attendance records that track individual member service hours dedicated to direct service, training, and fundraising (if applicable). AmeriCorps member service hours earned must be verifiable and certified by a supervisor. Timesheets must also clearly assure that lunch time and breaks are not counted as part of member hours served.

Service Site Agreement

The service site agreement describes the relationship between the AmeriCorps members, the AmeriCorps program, and a local placement service site. The site agreement (also called a contract or memorandum of understanding) outlines the requirements for each participant in the agreement, defines boundaries and deadlines, and includes both time and financial commitments required by the service site. Strong site agreements provide clear guidance for all partners in the service program, and they are extremely important program management tools.