ASN TTA Update for Commissions and Directs

To:                   State Service Commissions and AmeriCorps State and National Direct Grantees

Subject:          Training and Technical Assistance Update—March, 2018

Happy Tuesday—and happy AmeriCorps Week! We have a few TTA items for you today. Please share this information with other members of your staff, as appropriate.

1.  Monthly Update Call with Commissions and Directs—Please note that the next monthly update call for commissions and direct grantees will occur on Tuesday, April 10, 1:00-2:00 pm Eastern. The April call will occur on the second Tuesday of the month to avoid conflicting with National Service Recognition Day. The call details, agenda, and prep materials (if any) will be distributed in early April.

As a reminder, you can access the recording of the March 6 call until the end of the month. The replay number is 866-514-3172.

What is the purpose of the call? CNCS offers an optional one hour call each month for all commissions and AmeriCorps State and National direct grantees to share timely announcements, review new research or resources, and answer questions. These calls originated years ago as communications calls, and they were led by the CNCS Office of External Affairs. In their current structure, the unified calls offer all grantees access to the same information and Q&A at the same time, and they include CNCS staff from several different departments in the agency. To re-enforce the access to information for all of our colleagues, we record the calls and make the replay information available at the same time as the participation details are distributed.

2. Upcoming Webinar for Commissions and Direct Grantees—The next AmeriCorps State and National training webinar will occur on Thursday, March 29, 3:00-4:30 pm Eastern, and the session will focus on continuity planning. Participants will include staff of 2017 AmeriCorps State and National grant awardees (commissions, tribes, and national/multi-state programs). Here are the details:

Title: Continuity Planning (to be presented by Margaret Mattinson and Britney Tonning, AmeriCorps State and National Program Officers)

Date: 3/29/18

Time: 3:00-4:30 pm Eastern

Registration: Please click this link to register for the March 29 webinar. On the day of the webinar, you can join at Audio instructions are provided in Adobe Connect once you log on.

Target Audiences: The target audiences for this webinar are commission and program staff who are directly involved in designing and implementing organizational development and management. This will allow participants to use the training material to best assess their current systems and identify strengths and opportunities for improvement. This training opportunity is being provided to offer service leaders a chance to step back from the daily implementation of commission and program work, and consider the longer-term needs of their organizations. This webinar content may also be useful to program and commission staff who train others and/or want to help their subgrantees or site staff bolster their own continuity and sustainability planning efforts.

Content: The Continuity Planning webinar will be led by AmeriCorps State and National Program Officers. The session will include a broad overview of 10 aspects of effective continuity planning (e.g., record-keeping, staff engagement, and more), successes and challenges from leaders in the national and community service field, and best practices for programs and commissions. This webinar will be an updated version of the workshop presented at the 2016 AmeriCorps State and National Symposium and the webinar held on April 20, 2017.

What are the purposes of the webinar? This webinar in one in a series of optional, online trainings provided to commission and program staff each year. The webinars are designed to help build organizational capacity and provide strong AmeriCorps service experiences. The content of the webinars range from broad organizational issues, like continuity planning, to more specific technical content, like completing the GPR or conducting criminal history checks. CNCS provides these sessions so commissions and directs can connect with a variety of staff and learn from their colleagues as guest speakers; guests are included in approximately 50% of the webinars. The webinar content is recorded and stored on the Knowledge Network or CNCS website.

3. Completing the Mid-Year GPR Webinar Now Posted—The recording for the Completing the Mid-Year GPR webinar, transcription, session highlights document, and PowerPoint are now posted on the GPR landing page. The February 27 webinar was presented in Adobe Connect; hopefully, participants found the logistics during the live presentation went smoothly. At this point, it looks like the recording is clear and easily accessible when you open it from the GPR landing page. Please let us know if you have any trouble accessing the information or have any questions about the webinar content.

4. Training and Technical Assistance Survey Results—Last month, we received a good deal of very useful feedback on AmeriCorps State and National training and technical assistance activities and priorities. In the survey, we asked folks to give us a sense of what is working well, what is most useful to you and your team, and what needs to be improved to help strengthen national service across our field. In all, we received 95 surveys and 321 comments from all types of service colleagues. Of the respondents, about 77% indicated they work with state commissions, 6% work with tribes, and 17% work with national/multi-state programs. In addition, about 41% of the respondents indicated they have worked with grants or programs funded by CNCS for 4 years or less, and 59% indicated they have worked with CNCS for more than 5 years.

Much of the feedback validated challenges that CNCS staff have struggled with in the past few years. Specifically, several survey respondents noted how difficult it is to make time for and fully engage in online training during the work day, and a number of respondents expressed difficulty in trainings that combine both commission staff and direct program staff in the audience.

In addition, the survey results showed the different opinions program and commission staff have about the usefulness of the same CNCS TTA resources. For some respondents, for example, the most useful training resource was the recurring schedule of monthly webinars led by ASN, while others found the webinars to be the least useful. Similarly, a number of respondents noted that the National Service Help Desk/Hotline  was the most useful technical assistance resource they’ve used, while others indicated the it was the least useful. This type of pro/con feedback is common in all CNCS training evaluations, as it reflects the myriad of diverse organizations, program designs, staff needs, and expertise we have in our field.

What happens next? The survey results were distributed to staff in AmeriCorps State and National, Grants Management, the Office of the Chief Risk Officer, and the Office of Research and Evaluation. We will continue to share the survey results and CNCS responses in the TTA update emails over the next couple of months so that you can see more of the feedback from the field and what CNCS staff are doing with it. In addition, the TTA planning team will include the survey results as they are finalizing the overall TTA plan later this year. Finally, the survey results will be used to design and deliver the 2018 AmeriCorps State and National Symposium coming up in September.

5. 2018 Regional National Service Training Conferences—You can access the agendas and registration links for the three regional conferences led by state commissions in Illinois, South Carolina, and Washington and America’s Service Commissions here: If you haven’t already, please take a look at these local training opportunities for your team, subgrantees, or operating site staff, and promote these conferences in your networks. They are a great opportunity for building grant management and program skills and sharing best practices with your AmeriCorps colleagues.

Please let us know if you have any questions about this TTA update.

Thank you,

AmeriCorps State and National


Published Date: 
March 13, 2018
Grantee Type: 
State Commission
National Direct
Monthly Grantee Call
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