Washington DC -- AmeriCorps is turning to its far-flung network of members and alums for help in recruiting the next class of AmeriCorps members by hosting a video and photo contest as part of AmeriCorps Week.
The contest, which kicked off Friday and runs through May 22, asks participants to submit 60-second videos or still photos showing how AmeriCorps gets things done in local communities. Would-be AmeriCorps film directors and shutterbugs are invited to visit the contest website at http://www.americorpscontest.org for all the details.
“AmeriCorps is a transforming experience, and no one can tell the AmeriCorps story better than those who serve,” said Kristin McSwain, Chief of Program Operations for the Corporation for National and Community Service, AmeriCorps' parent agency. “We're asking members and alums to grab a camera and show us how AmeriCorps gets things done.”
This year the agency has assembled a panel of celebrity judges to help in selecting the winning entries. They include television and film actor Hill Harper, B-52s founder and lead singer Kate Pierson, National Public Radio's justice correspondent Ari Shapiro, Washington Post illustrator Patterson Clark, SnagFilms CEO Rick Allen, and others.
Pure Digital, maker of Flip Video™ digital camcorders, is the prize sponsor for this year's contest. The first place winner of both contests will receive a Flip Mino HD camera, and second and third place winners will receive a Flip Ultra. The three finalists will receive an AmeriCorps Alums gear package from AmeriCorps Alums, and semi-finalists will receive a Starbucks gift card.
The photo contest is new this year and builds on the highly popular video contest, which has generated more than 70 home-made videos by AmeriCorps members and alums over the past two years. Some videos tugged at the heartstrings, others tickled the funny bone, but all conveyed an important message about service. The Corporation distributed the 2007 contest winners to 1,200 television stations across the US, where they have aired more than 26,000 times reaching 443 million viewers. Past winners are also in the AmeriCorps Presentation Kit and on the Corporation's YouTube channel. The contest is part of the Corporation's commitment to embrace new media and Web 2.0 strategies to support recruitment and other programmatic goals.
The contest is only open to AmeriCorps members and alums. Entries will be judged on five criteria: overall impact, creativity, memorable content and delivery, clear message, and alignment with the mission and goals of AmeriCorps. The celebrity judges will select five semifinalists from the videos and nine from the photos prior to public voting, which will take place online between June 15 and July 6.
The contest is held in conjunction with AmeriCorps Week, a national recognition and recruitment event taking place May 9-16 aimed at recruiting more Americans into service, saluting AmeriCorps members and alums for their impact, and thanking the partners that make AmeriCorps possible. More than 250 events are planned, including service projects, recruitment fairs, presentations, recognition ceremonies and more. Information on this year's AmeriCorps Week is at http://www.americorpsweek.gov.
The contest comes at a time of strong momentum for AmeriCorps. President Obama last month signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which, among other provisions, will set AmeriCorps on a path to grow from 75,000 to 250,000 annual positions by the year 2017. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed in February provided $200 million to support up to 13,000 new AmeriCorps members serving in distressed communities. The first Recovery Act AmeriCorps members were sworn in by Corporation Acting CEO Nicola Goren last month, and programs will be recruiting to fill thousands of positions starting this summer and fall.
Online applications to AmeriCorps have risen dramatically in recent months, fueled by a “compassion boom” of Americans wanting to help their neighbors in tough times, increased interest in public service by millennials and boomers, the economy, and an “Obama effect” of people responding to the President's call to service. AmeriCorps received 17,038 online applications in March, nearly triple what it received in March of 2008. Between November 2008 and March 2009, AmeriCorps received 48,520 online applications, up 234% over the 14,532 applications it received during the same five month period a year ago.