February was a short but busy month as we moved forward on several key implementation steps for the Serve America Act. Here are the highlights:
Seeking Input on Proposed Rule
On February 23, we published a proposed rule which covers a wide range of matters pertaining to the National Service Trust, the AmeriCorps State and National application process, and Senior Corps. The full text of the rule is available by clicking here. We invite you to participate in shaping the final rule by providing us with your comments. The easiest way is to submit comments online through Regulations.gov. Also, we are hosting conference calls for individuals to comment on March 3rd, 12th, and 16th, and April 2, all at 3:00 pm EST. Click here for more information on the calls. The comment deadline is April 26, and I hope you can take some time to share your perspectives on this proposed rule that touches most of our programs.
Social Innovation Fund
On February 16, we released the Notice of Funding Availability for the Social Innovation Fund (SIF). We thank all who engaged in the public process to design and implement the SIF, including the more than 200 organizations and individuals who provided feedback on the draft NOFA. The Social Innovation Fund is designed to:
- Promote public and private investments in effective and potentially transformative portfolios of nonprofit community organizations to help them strengthen their evidence base and replicate and expand to serve more low-income communities;
- Identify more effective approaches to addressing critical social challenges and broadly share this knowledge; and
- Develop the grantmaking infrastructure necessary to support the work of social innovation in communities across the country.
This year, the Corporation will award up to $50 million in Federal funding to approximately seven to 10 intermediary organizations. These intermediaries will identify, select, support, and monitor promising nonprofit organizations working in rural and urban low-income communities to address the priority issue areas of economic opportunity, youth development, and school support, and healthy futures. For more information on the SIF and how to apply, click here. The Letter of Intent to Apply deadline is March 1, at 5:00 pm EST, and applications are due by April 8, 2010.
The first set of grant competitions since the passage of the Serve America Act has generated a
high volume of applications across all our programs. We are excited about the strong level of interest, which reflects growing recognition that national service is a valuable way to build capacity and address community challenges. Here is a rundown on our competitions:
- Learn and Serve America received 217 applications for the new Summer of Service program to support innovative summer-time service-learning programs for 6th through 9th graders, and we will announce awardees later this month.
- Senior Corps received a total of 300 Concept Papers in response to our current RSVP competition to start new RSVP projects in areas currently unserved and to augment existing RSVP projects to add new volunteers to expand services. The next steps are to review concept papers, invite successful concept applicants to submit full applications, and review and award grants in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year. Full applications are due April 6, 2010.
- AmeriCorps State and National also experienced very high application volume, with more than 500 applications submitted for the 2010 NOFA, including a high percent of applications from organizations new to the AmeriCorps competitive process and the Corporation entirely. Applications are being reviewed and final announcements are expected in early summer.
A critical but largely behind-the-scenes part of implementing the Serve America Act is making extensive upgrades to our technology systems. We have devoted significant staff time to modernizing our systems to meet new requirements and improve the user experience. As one example, on February 25, we released the 4.1 version of the My AmeriCorps Portal, eSPAN and eGrants software, which implemented thirty-four system upgrades. Among the changes, State Commissions are able to enter National Applicants in eGrants; new check boxes have been added for Rural, Urban, and Encore Programs; Senior Corps programs now may submit a full progress report once a year instead of every 6 months; and some budget fields had their input capabilities and formats changed for Senior Companion and Foster Grandparent Programs.
Thank you for your interest, and please visit our Serve America Act homepage for more information.
Chief of Program Operations
Corporation for National and Community Service