2019 Excellence in AmeriCorps Awards

Excellence in AmeriCorps Awards

To honor inspiring and impactful national service across the country, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is soliciting nominations for the 2019 Excellence in AmeriCorps Awards. CNCS’ goal for these awards is to recognize outstanding and innovative programs and high quality and meaningful AmeriCorps service experiences for current members and alums.

Nomination Process and Submission Deadline

All nominations must be submitted using the provided nomination form. Please attach and send the completed nomination form (required) and up to 4 accompanying digital photographs (optional) to excellenceawards@cns.gov by Monday, July 1, 2019 at 5:00 PM EST.  Nominations submitted in any other formats, or attachments beyond those listed above, will not be reviewed or considered.

Please refer to the Nomination Form and Criteria section for more information about submissions.

Award Celebration

Award recipients will be invited to the AmeriCorps State and National Symposium award celebration luncheon in Arlington, VA to receive their award on Thursday, September 19, 2019. Award recipients will be invited to attend the presentation with one guest. CNCS will pay travel, lodging, and a per diem for each recipient and guest.

Nomination Eligibility

Current AmeriCorps programs (including AmeriCorps tribal programs) and members in AmeriCorps State and National, VISTA, and/or NCCC are eligible to be nominated for the Excellence in AmeriCorps Awards. Self-nominations for member awards are not eligible; however, organizations are eligible to nominate their own program for program awards. 

Award Categories

  1. Best New Program 
  2. Most Significant Innovation
  3. Engaging More People with Disabilities
  4. Most Impactful Member Service
  5. Most Compelling Member Experience

Best New Program 

  • This category is for an entirely new program, in which AmeriCorps members were not previously engaged in service under this organization.
  • The nomination should explain how the addition of member interventions/activities addresses a critical need in the community.
  • The program must have launched on or after July 1, 2017.
  • Nominees in this category must be programs (not individual members or alums).

Most Significant Innovation

  • This category is for current AmeriCorps programs in which members are already serving.
  • The focus of nominations in this category should be on a program or service innovation that allowed the organization to expand the number/type of community services or the impact of the service(s) provided.
  • It may be appropriate to describe the people (national service members, staff, and volunteers) involved in this effort, but please focus the nomination on the service delivery innovation.  Where appropriate, provide data to demonstrate the innovative approach and results.
  • Nominees in this category must be programs (not individual members or alums).

Engaging More People with Disabilities

  • Nominees in this category should have served more people with disabilities and/or provided service that engaged more people with disabilities in national or volunteer service.
  • This category will recognize a member, alum, or program that significantly contributed to increasing the participation of individuals with disabilities in national service (as AmeriCorps members, volunteers, or partners). 
  • This award will be presented in honor of former Senator Tom Harkin, a long-time champion of national and community service.
  • Nominees in this category may be either programs or individuals (currently serving members or alums).  

Most Impactful Member Service

  • This category will recognize an AmeriCorps member or alum who has made a significant impact in a community through AmeriCorps Service.
  • This individual should have built an ethic of civic responsibility, citizenship, and civic engagement in the community served as part of the AmeriCorps service.
  • Nominees in this category must be individuals (currently serving members or alums).

Most Compelling Member Experience 

  • This category will recognize an AmeriCorps member or alum who has had a positive change in her/his life as a result of serving in an AmeriCorps program or position.
  • The positive changes may be personal, educational, or career-related; and the changes must have occurred as a result of the national service experience.
  • Nominees in this category must be individuals (currently serving members or alums).

Nomination Form and Criteria

2019 Excellence in AmeriCorps Awards Nomination Form

Overview: Using the required nomination form, clearly and concisely describe the nominee’s best program design, enhancement, expansion, or experience and accomplishments as a member, for the award category selected. The narrative should include evidence of the nominee’s impact in the community, the program, or other local projects, as well as evidence to support the nominee’s work or service as innovative, a best practice, and/or a highly compelling and innovative experience.

Instructions on how to complete the nomination form:

  1. Nominee Information: The full name of the nominee, the AmeriCorps program affiliation (AmeriCorps State and National, VISTA, or NCCC), and the award category.
  2. Nominator Information: The full name of the nominator, the nominator’s affiliation with the nominee, and nominator's contact information.
  3. Narrative: Describe how the nominee exemplifies excellence in AmeriCorps service or programming, to include addressing the following (Maximum length: 3000 characters):
    • What made the service outstanding?
    • What data can you provide to support the impact of the member or program?
    • Provide details that vividly illustrate the significance of the nominated member service or program.
  4. Photos: Submissions may also include up to four (4) digital photographs. Photographs submitted should support and complement the narrative submission. Submission of photographs is not required. Photographs should be submitted as separate files and should not be embedded in the nomination form.
  5. Note: Select only one program affiliation and only one nomination category for each nomination submission.  In the event a program and individual are both eligible to be nominated, submit two separate nominations—one for the new or enhanced program and one for the member, following the award category descriptions.
  6. Consent: By submitting a nomination, each participant automatically confers on CNCS an irrevocable, nonexclusive, and unrestricted license to use the submitted content for purposes consistent with the agency’s national service mission.  This license includes the right of CNCS to copy, reproduce, display, or distribute the content of the submission and to make derivative works based on the submission or a substantial portion of it without prior attribution or permission.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who will select the award recipients? A diverse team of CNCS staff will review and rank the eligible nominations and recommend a slate of recipients to the Director of AmeriCorps State and National. The Director will have final decision-making authority. Appropriate applicants are subject to a final vetting process by CNCS prior to selection of final award recipients.

Are there any limitations on who can submit nominations? Individuals and programs may submit no more than one nominee in each award category. Nominators are highly encouraged to focus on the quality of the nomination submitted – not the quantity of nominations submitted. An individual may not self-nominate for the individual member awards; self-nominations will not be reviewed.

How can grantees and members submit nominations?  Nominations must be submitted using the provided nomination form.  The nomination form (required) and up to 4 digital photographs (optional) must be submitted as attachments via email to excellenceawards@cns.gov by Monday, July 1, 2019 at 5:00 PM EST. Nominations submitted in any other formats, or attachments beyond those listed above, will not be reviewed or considered.

How will the winning recipients be notified? The nominator of the award recipient will be notified via email in August 2019. The CNCS coordinators will work with the nominator to contact the award recipient. After the initial notification, CNCS will work directly with the award recipient to coordinate their travel and accommodations. 

How is “AmeriCorps programming” defined? AmeriCorps programming can mean a program that is focused entirely on and funded entirely by AmeriCorps, or a program that is multi-faceted and includes a variety of activities and multiple funders, but which has an AmeriCorps components and AmeriCorps funding.  The nomination should focus on AmeriCorps-related activities—see next question.

In order for a program to be eligible for a program award, does it have to be funded entirely through AmeriCorps, or is it sufficient, for example, that VISTA members serve and contribute to the program? A nomination based on the VISTA member service component would be eligible to apply.

Does the limit for the narrative mean words or characters? The limit for the narrative is 3000 characters. Text beyond the 3000 character limit will not be considered.

The photos I want to attach make the email too large to send. What should I do? If the file is too large, attach photos of a smaller size or resolution to allow them to be submitted with the application.  Do not submit separate or multi-part applications for a single nomination.

I want to nominate both a member and a program.  Should I submit a combined nomination, or separate nominations? Submit separate nominations.

I understand that self-nominations are not eligible; however, can a program director nominate her own program for one of the program categories? Yes. In addition, a program may nominate a member or alum from its own program for one of the member categories.

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