Applying for AmeriCorps State and National Grants

Some of the free resources, tools and easy-to-use online courses listed below are offered through the CNCS Knowledge Network* and its Online Courses

*In response to several requests, and in order to provide maximum competition for the AmeriCorps funds recently appropriated by Congress, CNCS is waiving the requirement for submission of notification of intents to apply. If potential applicants missed the deadline to submit the intent to apply, they can still submit AmeriCorps competitive applications.  For national direct applicants, the grant application deadline is January 20th.  For state applicants, please follow the timeline and guidance provided by your state commission. For State Commissions, should you choose, you can submit state applications that were not included in your original notification of intent to apply.

Contents

How AmeriCorps State and National Works

AmeriCorps was established in 1993 as a way for Americans to give intensive service to their communities and country and earn money for college in return.   AmeriCorps State and National engages in strategic grantmaking to support organizations that see service as a solution to local and national challenges. Multi-state, state, local and tribal grantees recruit, train and manage AmeriCorps members in direct service and capacity building activities to address unmet community needs in six focus areas:  education, healthy futures, clean energy/environment, veterans and military families, disaster services, and economic opportunity. AmeriCorps members help organizations expand services, build capacity, develop partnerships, leverage resources, create sustainable programs, and recruit and manage other volunteers. Each year, AmeriCorps members serve with thousands of nonprofit, faith-based, and community organizations, helping them expand their reach and better meet their mission.  These powerful service experiences also help AmeriCorps members develop lifelong civic engagement.

Learn more about AmeriCorps grants by reading these PowerPoint presentations:

AmeriCorps State and National Priorities

AmeriCorps grant making priorities are informed by the CNCS strategic plan. Priorities vary somewhat from year to year and are outlined in detail in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). The CNCS focus areas are: economic opportunity, education, veterans and military families, disaster services, healthy futures, environmental stewardship and capacity building.

Currently available funding opportunities are listed on the Funding Opportunities page. Applicants can also examine a list of past grant awards on the Results of Grant Competition page or in the list of Press Releases published by the CNCS Newsroom.

Planning and Researching for an Application

To be successful, applicants should conduct careful planning and research to submit a high-quality application.

Research the community need and successful interventions to address this need. Clearly identify and document a community need (with referenced statistics/data). Determine if AmeriCorps members are the appropriate resource to respond to and address this need, and if so, how and why.

Unless you have impact evaluation data from your own organization and program, you may want to know how other organizations and/or communities have addressed and solved this problem and what research says is the most effective intervention.

Determine your theory of change. Developing the outlines of a logic model can help show how the pieces of the program fit together:  Need -> Intervention -> Outputs -> Outcomes. The theory of change and logic model provide the cause and effect basis of your program design.

Effective program design creates the foundation for a successful application and program implementation. Carefully review the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) and the Application Instructions. Respond to the specific criteria with the exact information that is requested. The NOFO changes from year to year, so be sure to respond to all aspects of the current application criteria and format.

 CNCS Performance Measures

CNCS requires every AmeriCorps State and National applicant to include a set of aligned performance measures that they will use in reporting their progress. CNCS has developed a set a national performance measures that allow CNCS to roll up numbers reported by grantees to develop a picture of the impact of national service programs in some key areas. AmeriCorps performance measures include a set of  agency-wide priority measures and complementary program measures within CNCS focus areas.

Specific performance measure instructions are listed on the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) page for which they apply.

Preparing a Budget

Learn about budget development with a focus on preparing and administering a CNCS grant budget for an AmeriCorps program.

Some federal agencies allow their funds to be used as match for AmeriCorps State and National grants.

Rules and Regulations

To plan and manage an AmeriCorps program that is both effective and compliant, it is important to understand the grant requirements. The Managing AmeriCorps Grants webpage includes the federal statute, regulations, grant provisions, and policy related frequently asked questions that govern AmeriCorps grants.

Evaluation

Most existing AmeriCorps State and National grantees need to meet certain evaluation requirements when they recompete for funding (apply for a second 3-year grant). These evaluation requirements can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations (45 C.F.R. §§2522.500 -.540 and .700-.740).

Other Resources for Grant Applicants

The National Service Knowledge Network* is the national service hub for sharing training and technical assistance information among CNCS programs. The Knowledge Network has a wealth of resources that could be of benefit to any potential applicant.  You need to create an account to use these resources. Features include discussion boards, content sharing, profiles, private messaging, and more.

* Disclaimer
The information and opinions expressed on any sites linked to/from the National Service Knowledge Network are not necessarily those of CNCS. No representation or warranty regarding the accuracy of information or opinions expressed is given, and CNCS is not responsible or liable to any person for any loss, damage, injury, claim, liability, or other cause or character as a result of information or opinions expressed on any of these sites.

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