Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

10 Ways to Safely Help Your Community During COVID-19

 


COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. You should refer to CNCS’s statute and regulations for applicable requirements.

Please note: 

  • FAQs will continue to be updated as necessary.
  • Printable PDF versions of these FAQs can be downloaded below.
  • The most recently updated FAQs are highlighted in blue. 

 

CNCS General Program Questions

Last update 3/27/20

CNCS is closely monitoring the latest developments related to COVID-19. As Americans prepare for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in their community, you may have concerns about the potential impact of this new virus on your program. To help address these concerns, we are providing you with these FAQs. They will be updated regularly.

These FAQs do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. You should refer to CNCS’s statute and regulations for applicable requirements.

 

1. What should we share with our members/volunteers about Coronavirus/COVID-19?
All of us can take measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Everyone can do their part to help respond to this emerging public health issue. The best source of COVID-19 resources is the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The CDC with the Department of Health and Human Services is the lead government agency on the management of the Coronavirus outbreak. They have created resource guides on preventing the spread of COVID-19 in specific communities. This includes specific guidance for childcare centers and schools, colleges and universities, community events, and first responders, among many others. These guides, along with additional resources and up-to-date information from the CDC, can be found at the following links. [updated 3/12]

 

2. I am an AmeriCorps State and National, AmeriCorps VISTA, or Senior Corps grantee or project sponsor. Who should I contact with questions?
AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA, or Senior Corps Project Sponsors should contact their Portfolio Manager or Program Officer. [updated 3/12]

 

3. I am an AmeriCorps NCCC Project Sponsor. Who should I contact with questions?
NCCC Project Sponsors should contact their NCCC Region campus staff with questions. [updated 3/12]

 

4. What if a member or volunteer is showing symptoms of illness or respiratory problems? Should they be sent home?
Yes. Grantees and project sponsors should instruct members and volunteers to stay home and not return to their service sites until they are free of fever (100.4 degrees or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of fever, and any other symptom for at least 24 hours, without medication.  Grantees and project sponsors should also document the reason for the determination to instruct a member or volunteer to stay home due to illness.

To prevent stigma and discrimination during service, do not make a determination to send a member or volunteer home based on race or country of origin. Also, ensure that you maintain confidentiality of any member(s) and volunteer(s) who are confirmed to have COVID-19 or other illnesses as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). [updated 3/12]


5. What if a member or volunteer lives with or has been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19?  What should grantees and project sponsors do?
Service members and volunteers who are well but live with, or have been in close contact with, someone who is known to have COVID-19 should promptly notify their respective program/project director. More importantly, the individual should self-report to their physician, and in consultation with their physician, to the state health department responsible for the local management of COVID-19 issues.

The grantee or project sponsor should also refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure. While maintaining confidentiality, the grantee or project sponsor should inform fellow service members and volunteers of their possible exposure to COVID-19 at the service site. [updated 3/12]


6. Should my organization cancel planned congregate events (e.g.: training, recognition ceremonies or other special events)?
Each organization should make the decision on whether to proceed with upcoming congregant events by consulting information from the Centers for Disease Control and other relevant state and local agencies. A list of state and territorial health organizations can be found at the CDC State Health Department Portal[updated 3/12]

 

7. Will CNCS be cancelling upcoming trainings and convenings such as the Senior Corps Convening or upcoming AmeriCorps VISTA Sponsor Events?
Yes, the agency has cancelled and/or postponed all meetings, convenings and events through May 15.  The agency is monitoring the situation in locations where events after May 15 are are planned and will make a determination on whether to proceed with the advice and counsel of federal and local health officials for each jurisdiction. Grantees or project sponsors should continue to monitor the CNCS website and other communication for updates. [updated 3/12]

 

8. What if our organization has paid for staff, member, and/or volunteer travel that is canceled by the host organization or it is otherwise imprudent for the travel to happen as planned?
Due to safety concerns, CNCS would treat these scenarios like a weather-related travel cancellation and would allow the costs if they are otherwise reasonable and necessary. You should clearly document the reasons for the cancellation as they relate to the specific costs incurred.

Since stipend payments are hourly based (i.e., based on FGP and SCP volunteers’ service hours), FGP and SCP program have discretion to determine the stipend payments made to the volunteers. [updated 3/12]

 

9. May members be exited for Compelling Personal Circumstances if they are unable to serve?
Within AmeriCorps State and National, grantees determine compelling personal circumstances. Extended site closures and sustained disruptions could reasonably justify a compelling personal circumstances exit under 45 CFR § 2522.230 (a) Release for compelling personal circumstances.

For AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps NCCC members, the agency will follow established protocols. Grantees and project sponsors should direct specific questions to their Portfolio Manager, Program Officer, or NCCC campus staff. [updated 3/12]

 

10. If an AmeriCorps State and National program allows members to do additional training at a time that they cannot serve at their sites, will they be allowed to exceed the maximum 20 percent aggregate training hours?
No, per 45 CFR § 2520.50 How much time may AmeriCorps members in my program spend in education and training activities?, “No more than 20 percent of the aggregate of all AmeriCorps member service hours in your program, as reflected in the member enrollments in the National Service Trust, may be spent in education and training activities.” [updated 3/12]

 

11. If we have a member or volunteer who is exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19, do we need to notify CNCS?
Yes, on a voluntary basis, please notify your Program Officer or Portfolio Manager if you have a member or volunteer who is diagnosed with COVID-19. Share the project name, city location and number of members or volunteers diagnosed. In order to protect the privacy of the individual, please do not share their name or other personally identifiable information. You should follow guidance provided by the CDC and your local health department. [updated 3/17]

 

12. I understand that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently granted relief to some provisions in 2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. Does this apply to my organization?
OMB released guidance on March 9, 2020  granting “…class exceptions in instances where the agency has determined that the purpose of the Federal awards is to support the continued research and services necessary to carry out the emergency response related to COVID-19.” The federal awarding agency makes this determination. If you receive non-CNCS awards that meet this criteria, please contact OGAInformation@cns.gov, as the extension to submit single audits and possibly other relief may be applicable to your CNCS award(s) as well. [updated 3/17]

 

13. What is the impact of COVID-19 on access to national service criminal history check (NSCHC) vendors Truescreen and Fieldprint, and how should programs handle Livescan location closures?
As of March 18, 2020, CNCS-contracted national service criminal history check (NSCHC) vendors Fieldprint and Truescreen are operating. However, certain Livescan fingerprint locations may be closed due to business-specific reasons and/or local government requirements. To see which Livescan sites are closed, you may check site availability on Fieldprintcncs.com/.

CNCS communicates closely with Truescreen and Fieldprint and will issue further notice and guidance if closures become nationwide and/or the sources (FBI/states/NSOPW) become unable to provide results to grant recipients.

Livescan locations closed due to Covid-19 are allowing appointments to be scheduled for future dates. Grant recipients may elect to order fingerprint cards or schedule Livescan appointments for a future time when a local site expects to reopen. Scheduling an appointment or having documentation showing that the individual completed their fingerprint card satisfies the requirement to “initiate” the background check (i.e., the requirement that programs initiate the check before member/volunteer/staff begins work or service in a covered position).

The results of the NSOPW must be reviewed and documented prior to the person beginning work or starting service (before work, service, or training hours are charged to the grant, federal or match). A person may not accrue hours towards their work or service without first having cleared the NSOPW component of the NSCHC. Checks that are not within these time frames are noncompliant.

Please note: Grant recipients who use Truescreen need to refer to the Truescreen pre-approved ASP (NationalService.gov/CHCFAQs). The criminal history information components (state of service check, state of residence check, and FBI checks) of the NSCHC must be initiated no later than the first day of the start of service or work. Checks that are not within these time frames are noncompliant.

Initiating state and FBI checks is going one step further than getting permission to conduct an NSCHC. This could include, for example, fingerprinting, sending requests to a state repository to get checks, or having candidates fill out official forms for getting the required checks. You must be able to document how and when checks were initiated. You must have policies and procedures outlining how you initiate checks and apply them consistently.

Ordering fingerprint cards or scheduling a Livescan appointment may be considered initiation of a check. [updated 3/27]

 

14. Are members or volunteers or staff who are suspended for over 120 days, but not exited from service or employment, required to conduct a new National Service Criminal History Check?
A break in service means that a person is no longer providing service through or receiving salary from a recipient or subrecipient. Temporary interruption of work or service without termination of employment or expiration of the agreement under which service is being provided is not a break in service.

With regard to members, volunteers, or staff suspended or not serving due to COVID-19, such temporary interruption is not a break in service and no new criminal history check needs to be conducted when the members or staff resume service. [updated 3/19]

 

15. How is the requirement to accompany those for whom State and/or FBI check components are pending affected by COVID-19?
Covid-19 has not changed the requirement to accompany those who are serving when State and/or FBI check components of the NSCHC are pending.

Individuals in covered positions are required to be accompanied during service or work while state check(s) or FBI check components are pending. A person is accompanied when he or she is in the physical presence of a person who is cleared for access to a vulnerable population.

One possible way to document accompaniment is to indicate on the covered person’s timesheet

  1. who accompanied during the covered individual’s access to a person in a vulnerable population,
  2. on what dates and hours the accompaniment took place, and
  3. have the person who performed the accompaniment incrementally sign off and attest to the accuracy of the documentation.

You should have policies and procedures that clearly describe your accompaniment guidelines and documentation procedures. The documentation should show the day, times, accompanier and individual accompanied. If you need to amend the policy to reflect necessary adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, your organization should document the change, and the organizational approval of the change.

For individuals who will be teleserving as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, programs must ensure that communication with vulnerable populations includes accompaniment. This may be done via conference call, carbon copy on emails, or other means specific to the teleservice.

Please direct questions regarding NSCHC vendors or NSCHC access to CHC@cns.gov. [updated 3/27]

 

Information for Members and Volunteers:

1. May I leave my site for a compelling health reason, such as I have a compromised immune system?
Yes, members and volunteers who are unable to serve at their assigned service location should work individually with their project sponsor and program to determine an appropriate alternative. Members/volunteers must notify their project sponsor/program about their risk to potential exposure. See CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure. [updated 3/12]

 

2. If I am serving in AmeriCorps NCCC or AmeriCorps VISTA, will CNCS pay for the return to my Home of Record (HOR)?
If you are unable to complete your service term, we will follow normal VISTA and NCCC program protocols for returning members to their Home of Records, where appropriate. [updated 3/12]

 

3.Can we teleserve?
For AmeriCorps State and National and AmeriCorps VISTA members, please refer to the teleservice policies AmeriCorps State and National Teleservice Guidance and AmeriCorps VISTA Teleservice Guidance. For Senior Corps sponsors, please follow the appropriate guidance as outlined in the Senior Corps Operations Handbook[updated 3/12]


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Senior Corps-Specific Questions

Last update 3/30/20

CNCS is closely monitoring the latest developments related to Coronavirus (COVID-19). As Americans prepare for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in their communities, you may have concerns about the potential impact of this new virus on your program. To help address these concerns, we are providing you with these FAQs. They will be updated regularly.

These FAQs do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. You should refer to CNCS’s statute and regulations for applicable requirements.


1. What precautions are CNCS and Senior Corps taking regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
CNCS is closely monitoring information and recommendations provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) related to the COVID-19. As this is an evolving situation, the information and guidelines will continue to develop as conditions change. To help address general concerns, CNCS has released agency-wide FAQs that can be found here. [updated 3/13]

 

2. UPDATE: COVID-19 is impacting our organization’s ability to perform basic activities such as producing required progress reports. How will this affect my upcoming Performance Progress Report (PPR)?
Senior Corps is extending the due date for the upcoming annual Performance Progress Report (PPR) by 30 days due to COVID-19. The PPR is now due May 30, 2020. There is no need to request an extension as it will automatically be reflected in eGrants. This extension is made under the authority of Administrative Relief Exception No. 10, as provided in OMB’s March 19, 2020, memorandum, Memorandum M-20-17, which allows federal grantees affected by COVID-19 to delay the submission of financial, performance, or other reports up to three months beyond the normal due date.

Here are some tips for completing the PPR. Grantees are still required to report on progress toward meeting approved performance targets. Please follow Appendix B: Performance Measure Instructions when reporting your outputs and outcome actuals. We know that state and local actions implemented to reduce COVID-19 may impact your organization’s ability to gain access to data due to closures of partner universities, schools, and county offices. Please continue to use your best judgement to report on outputs and outcomes achieved prior to COVID-19 related closures. Grantees or sponsors should identify the impact of COVID-19 on their operations within the relevant narratives section of the progress report. This includes challenges that COVID-19 has had on operations, partnership/collaboration development, and non-federal share development. You should also include a summary of any challenges faced for each Performance Measure in the Grantee Note associated with each Performance Measure. Finally, CNCS is also interested in learning more about the tremendous work that Senior Corps project sponsors are doing to address the needs of COVID-19 within their community. 

Please rest assured that grantees’ inability to meet targets during this unprecedented time will not necessitate a performance improvement plan. Additionally, CNCS will not take any action that will result in funding reduction, denial of funding, or termination of grants as a result of unmet targets due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [updated 3/30]

 

3. COVID-19 is impacting my ability to meet match requirements. Will CNCS provide relief regarding this requirement?
CNCS is waiving all match requirements for all Senior Companion, Foster Grandparent, and RSVP grantees for FY2019 and FY2020. Senior Corps is utilizing regulatory authorities set forth in 45 CFR §2551.92(b)(2) (Senior Companion Program), 45 CFR §2552.92(b)(2) (Foster Grandparent Program), and 45 CFR §2553.72(b)(2) (RSVP), which provides CNCS the legal authority to grant exceptions, under certain specific circumstances, to the match requirements. CNCS will expect grantees to document this exception/flexibility and follow all applicable record retention requirements through a memo to the file, instructions can be found in FAQ #3: “What does a Memo to File need to include?” [updated 3/27]

 

4. What does a “Memo to File” need to include?
CNCS’s Office of Monitoring recognizes that due to COVID-19, grant recipients may experience challenges related to documenting grant program activities and expenditures changes due to COVID-19. In these occurrences, grant recipients are encouraged to include a memo to the file that clearly describes the compliance limitations related to documentation, including applicable dates and references to OMB Memo M-20-17 or Agency specific guidance (i.e. FAQs) that support the grant recipient’s approach to documentation during this period.  To assist in development of the memo to file, CNCS recommends that the following details are provided in your memo to the file, if applicable:

  • Information, if available, from the sponsoring agency regarding restrictions of program operations.  Include specific dates.
  • Information regarding any local government orders, such as shelter in place, stay-at-home, or non-essential business closures. Include specific dates or local orders.
  • Statement regarding what polices or procedures have been temporarily modified and a description of the changes. 
  • For example, a statement may address that Senior Corps FGP/SCP volunteer timesheets were unable to be signed by each volunteer, due to the fact that local COVID-19 orders prohibited volunteers from attending their volunteer stations. Project staff reviewed timesheets, verified the volunteer hours served with the volunteer, and certified the completion and accuracy of timesheets during this period of time.
  • Indicate the timeframe for the change in policy or procedure.
  • Project Director signature (may be electronic) and date signed.

[updated 3/27]

 

5. Are FGP and SCP volunteers still able to get their meal reimbursements if they are on emergency leave?
Senior Corps programs should follow existing internal policies and procedures when determining if volunteers can still receive meal reimbursements while on leave or while receiving their temporary allowance. [updated 3/25]



6. We have upcoming Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), letters of agreement, and other documents that need to be signed related to our Senior Corps grant.  What happens if we are unable to get them completed and signed before the expiration of the current agreement?
Senior Corps encourages the use of electronic signatures.  If unable to implement electronic signatures on new upcoming documents due to the impact of COVID-19, Senior Corps will extend the due date for those new documents to be signed and executed until Wednesday, June 17, 2020. Senior Corps will re-evaluate, before June 17, 2020, whether a further extension will be necessary.  Grantees should document their inability to secure signatures due to COVID-19 through a memo to file. [updated 3/25]

 

7. Project Directors have asked grantees whether they can reduce their full-time status to part-time or change their status to a temporary suspension status due to the impact of COVID-19.  Are these status changes allowable?
Yes, under certain conditions these status changes are allowable. First, a full-time Project Director can reduce their full-time hours to part-time or a temporary suspension status due to the loss of operational capacity due to COVID-19.  In accordance with Senior Corps regulations (45 CFR §§ 2551.25(c), 2552.25(c), and 2553.25(c), respectively), an SCP, FGP or RSVP sponsor “may negotiate the employment of a part-time project director with CNCS when the sponsor can demonstrate that such an arrangement will not adversely affect the size, scope, or quality of project operations.” Also, grantees may temporarily suspend their Project Directors’ full or part-time status due to the impact of COVID-19. See OMB Memorandum M-20-17.

If you are interested in modifying the Project Director’s full-time status to a part-time status, or to a temporary suspension status arrangement, please send a written request (email is acceptable) to AmendmentRequest@cns.gov.

The written request should include: a description of the specific changes to the staffing plan, including the time (e.g., hours per week, if any) the individual project director would be scheduled to devote to the project, if applicable the anticipated end date for the reduced hours, if applicable; and any additional changes in specific personnel. The arrangement cannot adversely affect the size, scope, or quality of project operations. Every effort will be made to review your request within two business days. [updated 3/25]



8. If our Project Director or other staff members who are paid through the Senior Corps grant want to reduce their work hours (e.g., go from full-time to part-time status) because of COVID-19, or need to take leave because of COVID-19, is it allowable to continue to pay them their salary under the grant?
Yes, under certain conditions, it is allowable to continue to pay Senior Corps grant-funded staff members their hourly pay or salaries under the grant. If a Senior Corps grant recipient’s policies allow for the charging of the continuation of hourly pay or salaries during a period when no work is performed due to unexpected or extraordinary circumstances, regardless of the funding source, including Federal and non-Federal sources, then such charges to the Senior Corps grant award will be allowable. These pay policies must be applicable to the grant recipient’s entire workforce.

This pay action is valid only for a 90-day period and is consistent with the March 19, 2020 memorandum issued by the Office of Management and Budget that provides federal grant awarding agencies, such as CNCS, the authority to provide short term administrative relief to grant recipients affected by the loss of operational capacity and increase costs due to COVID-19. The 90-day period expires on June 17, 2020. OMB will re-evaluate, before the expiration of the 90-day period, whether an extension is necessary. See OMB Memorandum M-20-17.

Finally, the grant recipient is required to maintain appropriate records and documentation to support the hourly pay or salary charges that it made against the grant.  This complies with OMB’s cost principle requirements that require grant recipients to maintain appropriate records and cost documentation to substantiate charging hourly pay or salaries or other project activity costs related to the interruption of operations or services. 2 CFR §§ 200.302, 200.333. [updated 3/25]



9. If our Project Director or other staff members who are paid through the Senior Corps grant cannot report to work or telework because of COVID-19 (e.g., the project site temporarily shuts down because of COVID-19), is it allowable to continue to pay them their hourly pay or salary under the grant?
Yes, under certain conditions, it is allowable to continue to pay Senior Corps grant-funded staff members their hourly pay or salaries under the grant. If a Senior Corps grant recipient’s policies allow for the charging of the continuation of hourly pay or salaries during a period when no work is performed due to unexpected or extraordinary circumstances, regardless of the funding source, including Federal and non-Federal sources, then such charges to the Senior Corps grant award will be allowable.  These pay policies must be applicable to the grant recipient’s entire workforce.

This pay action is valid only for a 90-day period and is consistent with a March 19, 2020 memorandum issued by the Office of Management and Budget that  provides federal grant awarding agencies, such as CNCS, the authority to provide short term administrative relief to grant recipients affected by the loss of operational capacity and increase costs due to COVID-19. The 90-day period expires on June 17, 2020. OMB will re-evaluate, before the expiration of the 90-day period, whether an extension is necessary. See OMB Memorandum M-20-17.

Finally, the grant recipient is required to maintain appropriate records and documentation to support the charges against the grant related to the salary.   This complies with OMB cost principle requirements that require grant recipients to maintain appropriate records and cost documentation to substantiate the charging of any salaries or other project activity costs related to the interruption of operations or services. 2 CFR §§200.302, 200.333. [updated 3/25]



10. My organization does not currently have a pay policy that addresses continuation of pay under unexpected or extraordinary circumstances. May we prepare and implement a policy now?
Yes. If your grantee organization does not currently have continuation of pay policies that address unexpected or extraordinary circumstances, it is important that you prepare and implement such policies immediately.  

Moreover, the policies must provide for continuation of hourly pay or salaries under unexpected or extraordinary circumstances, even when the funding source of an employee’s pay is from another source other than the grant, such as a federal funding source.  The policy must be applicable to the grant recipient’s entire workforce. 

If you are updating your organization’s continuation of pay policies, or you are preparing new policies now, the policies should include at least:

  • The policies are applicable to the entire workforce in your organization;
  • The policies’ effective dates;
  • The policies address continuation of pay for staff members in instances when they are unable to work for reasons beyond their control (e.g., your grantee organization temporarily shuts down operations, nationally declared disaster); and
  • The policy addresses continuation of pay for staff members in instances when they are temporarily unable to work in their hired duty status (e.g., cannot work in a full-time status) due to unexpected or extraordinary circumstances (e.g., due to COVID-19).

[updated 3/25]

 

11. My organization’s response to COVID-19 may require changes to our budget.  What should I do?
All Senior Corps grant recipients must follow the requirements in their “Budgetary Changes” section as prescribed in the terms and conditions in the grant award supporting documents. Please note, if the federal share of a grant is greater than the “Simplified Acquisition Threshold” amount of $250,000 and the grantee’s cumulative changes exceeds 10% of the total budget, the grantee must request prior approval to submit an amendment.  If the change is below 10%, the grantee does not need to seek prior approval. All costs must be allowable, reasonable, and allocable as stated in 2 CFR §§ 200.403 – 200.405. [updated 3/25]

 

12. Will the Payment Management System (PMS) continue to operate, so that programs continue to request funds as normal?
The Payment Management System will continue to operate, and programs can expect to continue to request funds as normal. [update 3/23]

 

13. I have volunteers who are serving through telework, but I am unable to get them to sign their timesheets due to COVID-19. 
We recognize that these are exceptional circumstances and acquiring timesheet signatures may not be feasible, especially in light of the CDC guidance relating to older Americans, and guidance to numerous states and locales across the country to shelter-in-place. In order to maintain written records that comply with CNCS and OMB recordkeeping requirements, volunteers who serve through telework are still required to submit a record of the hours they have served on a weekly or biweekly basis, and your grantee organization is still required to approve those hours in writing.

If your organization has a policy for validating timesheets when a volunteer or employee is not available to sign their timesheet, you should follow your policy. If you do not have a policy in place, there are alternative ways to create those records. Volunteers who serve through telework may submit alternative written submissions to your organizations noting hours they have served. Rather than using a timesheet, their submissions may be sent, for example, via email to you, or via a note by text or smartphone photo. You may in turn approve each submission by sending a response back to the volunteer with a notation such as “Hours submitted approved.” You must maintain a record of these communications. In addition, Senior Corps recommends that you write a “Memo to File” for your records to appropriately document why timesheets were not signed and the process you used to verify the hours served. This should not impact your ability to pay a volunteer for the hours served during this time. [updated 3/23]

 

14. We know that volunteers who have accrued service hours or have completed orientation and were scheduled to serve can receive a temporary allowance.  What about applicants who have begun or completed the National Service Criminal History Check (NSCHC) process but have not begun orientation?
As those individuals have not completed orientation or their NSCHC process, they would not be eligible to receive a temporary allowance. [updated 3/20]



15. Can volunteer accumulate sick and vacation leave during the time they are not serving?
An organization should follow their own internal policies and procedures as it related to sick and vacation leave. [updated 3/20]

 

16. Will the hours calculated to identify a volunteer’s temporary allowance during COVID-19 count towards VSY hours? 
Senior Corps recognizes the disruption that COVID-19 may have in regard to Volunteer Service Year (VSY) production.  Grantees should follow existing tracking methods. The calculated hours to identify a volunteer’s temporary allowance during COVID-19 should be counted as service and be counted toward VSYs. [updated 3/25]

 

17. What is the impact of COVID-19 on access to national service criminal history check (NSCHC) vendors Truescreen and Fieldprint?
As of March 18, 2020, CNCS-contracted national service criminal history check (NSCHC) vendors Fieldprint and Truescreen are operating as normal. However, please note that certain Livescan fingerprint locations may be closed due to business-specific reasons and/or local government requirements. To see which Livescan sites are closed, you may check site availability on fieldprintcncs.com/.

CNCS is staying in close communication with Truescreen and Fieldprint and will issue further notice and guidance if closures become nationwide and/or the sources (FBI/state repository/NSOPW) become unable to provide results to grant recipients.

Please direct questions regarding NSCHC vendors or NSCHC access to CHC@cns.gov. [updated 3/20]



18. In the event that Senior Corps service locations are closed (e.g., schools, etc.), or the grantee cannot continue its funded service activity because of disruption at one or more service sites due to COVID-19, will CNCS permit service activities that are not included in approved notice of grant agreement, such as food delivery to families under quarantine?
If a service activity is disrupted due to COVID-19, grant recipients may develop other types of service activities that are not specifically defined in the grant and should obtain written (email) approval from their Program Officer/Portfolio Manager as soon as practicable.

New activities must not be otherwise prohibited or unallowable (e.g., lobbying). The new approved service activity can begin immediately, and the grant recipient should expect to take steps to amend the grant. In the meantime, the grantee should carefully document all the costs associated with the new service activities. [updated 3/20]

 

19. Though the service site is still open, I have a volunteer who is concerned about serving. Can a volunteer refuse to serve because they fear contracting COVID-19 but still be paid their stipend? 
The Director of Senior Corps has authorized Foster Grandparent (FGP) and Senior Companion (SCP) grantees and sponsors to pay volunteers a temporary allowance if the program or the volunteer or a volunteer’s family member is directly impacted by COVID-19.  If a project sponsor deems a volunteer is unable to serve due to the impact of COVID-19, then the volunteer should still receive a temporary pay allowance, as appropriate, and follow the steps provided in the guidance issued on March 13, 2020.  Senior Corps encourages all project sponsors to follow guidelines from their local, state, and federal authorities. [updated 3/18]

 

20. If the COVID-19 outbreak results in a break in service beyond 120 days, would volunteers need to re-do their National Service Criminal History Checks?
As this issue arises, we will provide appropriate guidance at that time. [updated 3/18]

 

21. We are experiencing some difficulties securing signatures and, in some cases, timesheets. Many of our volunteer stations closed so quickly there was no time to pick up timesheets or to get them signed. How should we proceed?
We recognize that these are exceptional circumstances. Senior Corps recommends that you write a “Memo to File” for your records to appropriately document why timesheets were not signed. This should not impact your ability to pay a volunteer for the hours served during this time. [updated 3/18]

 

22. Is it allowable for staff to work at home (telework) if the umbrella sponsor organization where the RSVP program resides does not have a telework policy and/or may not allow telework?
All organizations should follow internal policies and procedures relating to staff’s ability to telework.  We encourage all organizations to follow the guidelines of local, state, and federal health authorities. [updated 3/18]



23. We are cancelling our upcoming recognition event that takes up a significant portion of our budget. Will there be some type of guidance on what to do should there be difficulty in expending funds due to COVID-19? 
Due to COVID-19, Senior Corps grantees may want to consider other ways to recognize volunteers such as mailing gifts to them or other options instead of in-person events. When thinking about spending federal funds for recognition, grantees should always ensure that funds are reasonable, allocable, and allowable. 

We recognize that COVID-19 may also impact expenses. A grantee may have unexpended funds from a previous budget year and use them within the same performance period. The full impact of COVID-19 is not yet known, and Senior Corps is monitoring the situation and will address it at the appropriate time. [updated 3/18]



24. If an FGP/SCP project already has a written policy in place for paid administrative leave in emergency situations, are they still required to go through the procedure to request a temporary pay allowance?
Senior Corps is committed to holding volunteers harmless during these exceptional circumstances and should take steps to ensure volunteers receive their stipend allowance, or in lieu of that, a temporary allowance, if they are unable to serve due to COVID-19. [updated 3/18]



25. If a new FGP/SCP volunteer has recently completed orientation to serve, but has not been placed on site yet, are the volunteers eligible for the temporary pay allowance? If so, how would their average amount of hours be calculated?
The grantee and sponsor may use their own discretion to determine the appropriate number of weekly service hours for each volunteer. For instance, in this circumstance, a sponsor may calculate the appropriate number of hours by looking at the proposed schedule of volunteers who have completed orientation but have not yet started serving. Senior Corps grantees and sponsors should be reasonable, fair, and consistent in their methodology for calculating hours, and document how they arrived at the average weekly service hours for each volunteer and ensure that they have documented their decisions. [updated 3/18]

 

26. I have questions regarding the mandatory training requirements for FGP and SCP volunteers as I am concerned about holding in-person trainings for my volunteers due to the impact of COVID-19.
Grantees’, sponsors’, and volunteers’ health and safety are our top priority during this global health crisis. We recognize that COVID-19 may impact planned in-person trainings. Project sponsors are encouraged to think broadly and creatively when considering how to structure in-service training that are not in-person during this time. For example, projects might institute virtual trainings or send out articles or recommend an appropriate movie watch list, then ask volunteers to do a brief write-up. Or possibly, conference calls could be scheduled to discuss a topic or have a Q&A session. Please note that per our regulations, each FGP and SCP volunteer must receive a minimum of 20 hours of pre-service orientation and 24 hours of in-service orientation annually. Please refer to your program’s Operations Handbook for more information on training. [updated 3/12]

 

27. Are stipended volunteers able to receive their stipend if their volunteer station is closed?
Senior Corps recognizes that under these exceptional circumstances an FGP or SCP volunteer may be unable to serve due to the impact of COVID-19. The Director of Senior Corps authorizes FGP and SCP grantees to pay volunteers a temporary allowance and has outlined the payment process below. While this allowance is separate and distinct from the stipend that is normally paid to FGP and SCP volunteers, the Director of Senior Corps authorizes the allowance to help preserve the volunteer workforce and to minimize potential service disruptions. Rather than risk the eventual loss of valuable Senior Corps volunteers because of their inability to serve during a shutdown period of a program sponsor or volunteer station, Senior Corps leadership determined that it is in the best interest to CNCS’s respective Senior Corps programs, as well as to the individual program sponsors and volunteer stations, to provide a temporary pay allowance. More guidance information can be found here on the steps you must take to pay your volunteers an allowance.

The temporary pay allowance should be paid at the rate of $2.65 per hour through March 31, 2020, and then at $3.00 per hour starting April 1, 2020. Grantees shall calculate each individual volunteer’s temporary allowance amount at $2.65 per hour through March 31, 2020, and at $3.00 an hour starting April 1, 2020, and multiply this amount with the average weekly service hours for each individual volunteer. [updated 3/17]



28. How should I determine the appropriate number of weekly service hours for each volunteer?
The grantee and sponsor may use their own discretion to determine the appropriate number of weekly service hours for each volunteer.  Senior Corps grantees and sponsors should be reasonable, fair, and consistent in their methodology for calculating hours, demonstrate in writing how they arrived at the average weekly service hours for each volunteer, and ensure that they have documented their decisions. [updated 3/17]

 

29. If Senior Corps volunteers were already on leave, can they still be included in the stipend allowance?
Senior Corps grantees should follow their internal policies and procedures in regard to paying volunteers who are on leave and normally receive a stipend.  For instance, a grantee may require volunteers on pre-approved leave to first utilize that leave. Once their approved leave ends, if they are still unable to serve due to COVID-19, then they should receive the temporary pay allowance and should be paid following the process outlined in the guidance issued on March 13. [updated 3/17]



30. If a Senior Corps in-service event has been cancelled and the costs has already been expended and cannot be recovered, will these costs be allowable under the grant?
If any in-service events are cancelled, we recommend that you document that your events were cancelled due to COVID-19 and obtain copies of and document any city, local, and/or state mandates related to the COVID-19, if they exist. [updated 3/17]

 

31. What should grantees and sponsors do if they are unable to continue administering their Senior Corps programs when they are required to keep their office closed for an extended period of time because of COVID-19? 
Each organization shall make its own decision on whether to proceed with administering their program. In such a case, volunteers should still be paid their allowance following the guidance issued on March 13.  Grantees and sponsors should follow their own internal existing suspension of operations policy and procedures.  Senior Corps recommend all project sponsors to follow the guidelines from their local, state, and federal authorities. [updated 3/20]



32. There has been an outbreak of a disease other than COVID-19 (such as influenza) in my community. Can the same guidance allowing payment of volunteer allowances be allowable?
All guidance issued through the office of the Director of Senior Corps is strictly for volunteers, grantees, and sponsors affected by COVID-19. [updated 3/17]



33. Our volunteer sites are trying to minimize the risk of the COVID-19 exposure to the children and staff by suspending any non-essential personnel coming onto their sites until April. To protect their health as well as the health of the children they see while volunteering, should we suspend their volunteering activities for a few weeks?
All programs should follow applicable local, state, and federal guidance and requirements regarding public gatherings and congregate events by consulting information and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and other relevant state and local agencies. A list of state and territorial health organizations can be found at the CDC State Health Department Portal. [updated 3/17]


 
34. I have an upcoming continuation/renewal application due on April 20, 2020.  Is Senior Corps providing an extension for upcoming funding applications?
We recognize that the COVID-19 may impact an organization’s ability to apply for funding. However, at the time of the issuance of these FAQs, the due date still stands as April 20, 2020.  We will continue to evaluate whether the due date should be adjusted in the coming days and will amend this FAQ if appropriate. [updated 3/17]

 

35. We our cancelling our upcoming recognition event due to COVID-19.  In order to still provide recognition to our volunteers can we recognize their achievements through other activities such as mailing gifts?  Will this be allowable?
Due to COVID-19, Senior Corps grantees can mail gifts to volunteers and should think about ways to provide volunteer recognition other than in-person events. When thinking about spending federal funds for recognition, grantees should always ensure that funds are reasonable, allocable, and allowable.  [updated 3/17]

 

36. Should my organization cancel planned events (i.e. training, recognition, or other special events)?
Each organization should make their own assessment and decision on whether to proceed with upcoming congregant events by consulting information and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and other relevant state and local agencies. A list of state and territorial health organizations can be found at the CDC State Health Department Portal. [updated 3/12]

 

37. Can Senior Companion Program and Foster Grandparent Program volunteers teleserve?
Teleservice is appropriate when the activity can be meaningfully supervised, and the hours verified independently. It is important for any project that chooses to include an element of teleservice, that the program has a teleservice policy in place to guide volunteers. Further guidance can be found in each Program’s Operations Handbook. [updated 3/12]

 

38. Can Senior Corps Grantees and Sponsors ask volunteers if they have traveled to one of the affected areas?
Yes. Given the ongoing travel advisories and the recommendations of the CDC and other federal agencies regarding travel to affected areas and self-quarantining to limit the spread of the Coronavirus, you can require volunteers to disclose their recent travel destinations. [updated 3/12]

 

39. What if a volunteer is showing symptoms of illness or respiratory problems?  Should they be sent home?
Yes. Grantees and project sponsors should instruct volunteers to stay home, seek medical attention, and not return to their service sites until they are free of fever (100.4 degrees or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of fever, and any other symptom for at least 24 hours, without medication. The decision to discontinue home isolation should be made in consultation with the volunteer’s health care providers and state and local health departments. Grantees and sponsors should consistently apply and clearly communicate its practices with regard that service members self-quarantine. Grantees and project sponsors should also document the reason for the determination to instruct volunteer to stay home due to illness.

To prevent stigma and discrimination during service, do not make a determination to send a member or volunteer home based on race or country of origin. Also, ensure that you maintain confidentiality of any member(s) and volunteer(s) who are confirmed to have COVID-19 or other illnesses as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). [updated 3/12]

 

40. What if a volunteer lives with or has been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19?
Volunteers who are well but live with, or have been in close contact with, someone who is known to have COVID-19 should promptly notify their respective program/project director. More importantly, the individual should self-report to their physician, and in consultation with their physician, to the state health department responsible for the local management of COVID-19 issues and follow their guidance and instructions.

The grantee or project sponsor should also refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure. While maintaining confidentiality, the grantee or project sponsor should inform fellow service members and volunteers of confirmed Coronavirus cases and their potential exposure to COVID-19 at the service site. [updated 3/12]

 

41. I am a volunteer with a compromised immune system. May I leave my volunteer worksite for a compelling health reason?
Yes, volunteers who are unable to serve at their assigned service location because of a compromised immune system or other chronic medical condition should notify their project sponsor’s director about their medical condition and potential health risk should they have Coronavirus exposure. They should work individually with their project sponsor to determine an appropriate alternative accommodation or measure related to their volunteer service. [updated 3/12]

 

42. I am a Senior Corps grantee. Who should I contact if I have any further questions?
All Senior Corps project sponsors should contact their; Portfolio Manager or Program Officer with any questions about the program’s management in regard to the Coronavirus pandemic. [updated 3/18]


NOTE: For all actions taken related to COVID-19, please ensure you have written documentation, such as a memo to file, that address steps taken in response to COVID-19.

AmeriCorps State and National Program Specific Questions

Last update 3/20/20

CNCS is closely monitoring the latest developments related to COVID-19. As Americans prepare for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in their community, you may have concerns about the potential impact of this new virus on your program. To help address these concerns, we are providing you with these FAQs. They will be updated regularly.

These FAQs do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. You should refer to CNCS’s statute and regulations for applicable requirements.

 

1. In the event that AmeriCorps State and National service locations are closed (e.g., schools, etc.), or the grantee cannot continue its funded service activity because of disruption at one or more service site due to COVID-19, will CNCS permit service activities that are not included in approved notice of grant agreement, such as food delivery to families under quarantine?
If a service activity is disrupted due to COVID-19, grant recipients may develop other types of service activities that are not specifically defined in the grant and should obtain written (email) approval from their Program Officer/Portfolio Manager as soon as practicable.

New activities must not be otherwise prohibited or unallowable (e.g., lobbying). The new approved service activity can begin immediately, and the grant recipient should expect to take steps to amend the grant. In the meantime, the grantee should carefully document all the costs associated with the new service activities. [updated 3/12]


2. Can AmeriCorps State and National grant funds be used to pay for exceptional expenses incurred to ensure safety of members, staff and students, including temporary housing? 
There is no specific prohibition against a program providing housing, temporary or otherwise, to AmeriCorps members. Member benefits, such as housing, that are temporarily amended to address issues arising because of COVID-19 need to be documented and applied consistently across the program. To the extent that a program is not following its usual policies and procedures, like providing housing when housing is not typically provided to members, such deviation should be approved at the highest level of the grantee organization that is practicable. Formal amendment of the organization’s existing policies and procedures is not required. [updated 3/12]


3. Given that the CDC has issued a recommendation to businesses and schools to waive requirements for medical documentation of illness, may we waive the requirement to secure documentation for AmeriCorps members who are suspended for medical reasons?  From the CDC website:

“Do not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.”

The requirement to provide medical documentation is not an AmeriCorps State and National requirement. Thus, grantees can deviate from whatever medical documentation requirements they have in their existing policies and procedures related to compelling personal circumstances (CPC) as long as the programs retains contemporaneous documentation that the deviation from the requirement was related to COVID-19 (i.e., the member was exited for CPC because a sibling came in contact with COVID-19 and did not want to contaminate other members in the program) and the program recognizes that this health reason was beyond the member’s control pursuant to 45 CFR § 2522.230. [updated 3/12]

 

4. May ASN members earn hours when their service sites are closed due to COVID-19?
To earn hours, a member must engage in service activity. 42 U.S.C. §12602 (a)(2). Accordingly, grant recipients may not give members constructive credit for hours that were not served. However, to the extent training or teleservice is possible, CNCS will generously approve such deviations from the grantee’s normal policies and practices if the deviation is documented and approved by the grantee’s leadership and the planned national service is disrupted due to COVID-19. [updated 3/12]

 

5. In light of the FAQ related to payment of stipends during service interruptions, should programs suspend members from the program if service locations are closed?
Programs may decide to suspend AmeriCorps members during a service interruption because COVID-19 temporarily halts the member’s service period. Grant recipients may develop alternative activities for the members. [updated 3/12]

 

6. Do you anticipate a change to the teleservice policy for AmeriCorps State and National members? If a site were to close for more than 2 days within a pay period, are members allowed to teleserve for more than those 2 days?
CNCS considers the COVID-19-related challenges facing AmeriCorps State and National grantees to be a rare and unique circumstance where programs might increasingly employ teleservice when it is appropriate and compatible for achieving program objectives.

AmeriCorps State and National’s policy is that teleservice should be rare and thus does not specify a maximum number of days that teleservice is allowed. AmeriCorps State and National does not anticipate changing existing teleservice guidance. The AmeriCorps State and National guidance on teleservice can be found here:

https://www.nationalservice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ASN%20006%20Teleservice%20Guidance.pdf.
[updated 3/12]

 

7. Is CNCS going to cut the number of required service hours to be eligible for a full Segal Education Award if an AmeriCorps State and National member’s site is closed due to COVID-19?
CNCS does not have the authority to reduce the number of service hours required to be eligible for a full Segal Education Award. AmeriCorps State and National grantees have the option to suspend members and reinstate them later, when circumstances allow, or they may exit the member for CPC due the closure of the service location. [updated 3/12]

 

8. If we have a member who is exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19, do we need to notify CNCS?
Yes, on a voluntary basis, please notify your Program Officer or Portfolio Manager if you have a member who is diagnosed with COVID-19. Share the project name, city location and number of members diagnosed. In order to protect the privacy of the individual, please do not share their name or other personally identifiable information. You should follow guidance provided by the CDC and your local health department. [updated 3/17]


9. May AmeriCorps State and National members be paid living allowances while Suspended from service due to program closures related to the COVID-19?
In order to provide grantees the maximum flexibility as a result of COVID-19, CNCS has determined that AmeriCorps State and National members  may be paid living allowances and benefits while they are in a Suspended from Service status, if the reason for suspension is due to COVID-19. Programs can also elect not to pay living allowances if they suspend their AmeriCorps State and National members.

If an individual is suspended for any other reason, the living allowance and other benefits are also to be suspended. If a grantee organization decides to continue to pay members while they are in a Suspended status, they must be prepared to obtain additional funding to cover living allowance and benefit expenses once members are reinstated.

Programs should keep in mind that if or when they re-start the program and take members off suspension, they will have to continue paying the living allowance and benefits as members accrue hours.  This may necessitate some programs raising additional funds for those costs as they are unlikely to have budgeted for living allowances and benefits beyond their initial program duration. [updated 3/13]

 

10. I have a fixed amount grant. If the members don’t serve hours, may I draw down and retain more than what is supported by the hours served?
The statute requires fixed amount grant recipients to return a pro-rata share of the funds that are not supported by service hours for the position. 42 USC 12581(l)(3)(A)(i).That is, if a grant recipient is awarded $10,000 per MSY and a member is exited for CPC having completed 50% of the term, the statute currently authorizes the grant recipient to keep $5,000. [updated 3/13]

 

11. How can Full Cost Fixed Amount Grant recipients cover the cost of continuing to pay living allowances and benefits to AmeriCorps members if the members are not able to perform service hours? Can Full Cost Fixed Amount grant recipients draw funding amounts based on the total award value for filled member positions?
CNCS does not have the authority to alter the method for calculating the amount of funding a program may claim as a Full Cost Fixed Amount Award. The basis for calculating the amount of award funds that can be retained by a program is based on the proportion of hours served by members in relation to the number of hours required for each member’s term of service. CNCS recognizes the financial challenge that Full Cost Fixed Amount grant recipients may face in administering their program while program activities are disrupted.

Four alternatives available to grantees with Full Cost Fixed Amount awards, include:

  1. Identify alternative service activities that members can perform to earn service hours so programs may continue drawing funds;
  2. Continue to pay member living allowance but Suspend members because service activities have been disrupted by COVID-19;
  3. Let members remain in In-Service status and continue paying the living allowance and benefits; or
  4. Exit the member for Compelling Personal Circumstances due to the disruption of service activities related to COVID-19.

[updated 3/13]


12. When a member is suspended for COVID-19 reasons, can they continue to receive child care and health care?
Yes – a member suspended due to COVID-19 activities may continue to receive the child care benefit (for up to 12 weeks) and health care benefit provided by the grant recipient. To ensure no lapse in child care coverage, the AmeriCorps State and National grantee must notify GAP Solutions in writing within five business days after a member’s status changes. Costs incurred due to the grantee’s failure to keep GAP Solutions immediately informed of changes in a member’s status may be charged to the grantee’s organization. [updated 3/13]

 

13. May members be exited for Compelling Personal Circumstances if they are unable to serve?
Within AmeriCorps State and National, grantees determine compelling personal circumstances. Extended site closures and sustained disruptions could reasonably justify a compelling personal circumstances exit under 45 CFR § 2522.230 (a) Release for compelling personal circumstances.

For AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps NCCC members, the agency will follow established protocols. Grantees and project sponsors should direct specific questions to their Portfolio Manager, Program Officer, or NCCC campus staff. [updated 3/16]

 

14. If an AmeriCorps State and National program allows members to do additional training at a time that they cannot serve at their sites, will they be allowed to exceed the maximum 20 percent aggregate training hours?
No, per 45 CFR § 2520.50 How much time may AmeriCorps members in my program spend in education and training activities?, “No more than 20 percent of the aggregate of all AmeriCorps member service hours in your program, as reflected in the member enrollments in the National Service Trust, may be spent in education and training activities.” [updated 3/16]

 

15. When a commission is seeking approval for alternative AmeriCorps State and National member service activities for one or more of their subrecipients, are commissions required to submit separate requests for each program or could a commission submit a request for all of its competitive programs?
When a commission is seeking approval for alternative AmeriCorps member service activities, they need to identify a specific subrecipient and the associated alternative member activities for that subrecipient. Blanket approval is not possible because we need to fully understand the possible alternative member service activities available. To that end, please describe the member service activities as specifically as possible and avoid using terms such as “assist,” “support,” or other ambiguous terms. The more specificity you provide, the faster CNCS will be able to provide approval.

We want to balance the possible administrative burden to grantees, so if two or more subrecipients will engage in the same alternative member service activities, the requests can be aggregated into a single email or document. The information submitted by a grantee is intended to be used to determine if an amendment to the Notice of Grant Agreement is necessary and to reduce the possibility of later disallowance and financial burden on grantees.

Some important reminders:

  1. Programs should, of course, prioritize protecting the health and safety of members. If the members will need specific training, protective equipment, or other precautions to carry out the new service activities safely, the program should ensure that it can be provided.
  2. It is always the responsibility of the grantee/program to ensure that the service activities are compliant. Even though a PO/PM can give preliminary approval for an activity, if it is determined later that the activities were not compliant, the grantees may be subject to disallowance or other sanctions.

[updated 03/20]



16. Is CNCS Program Officer/Portfolio Manager approval needed before programs may begin engaging in alternative member activities given the language in the Program Specific Grant Terms and Conditions regarding requests during officially declared state or national disasters?
Yes, an email confirmation is required before you start alternative activities. Once you have the email confirmation, additional information may be requested but your request for alternative member activities does not have to be completed before you redirect your members.

A federal State of Emergency is distinct from an officially-declared disaster. Therefore, grantees should follow the COVID-19 FAQ on alternative service activities where a state or federal disaster has not been declared.

Where an officially-declared state or national disaster has been declared, the AmeriCorps State and National Program Specific Terms and Conditions on disaster-related programmatic changes are applicable. But please remember, the terms and conditions also state: “While written approval from CNCS is not required before making disaster-related programmatic changes, CNCS reserves the right to limit or deny disaster-related programmatic changes, including disallowing costs associated with the disaster related activities.” [updated 03/20]



17. As an alternative member service activity, can AmeriCorps State and National members assist grocery markets or pharmacies in delivering foods and medicines to quarantined people or other disadvantaged people?
No, AmeriCorps State and National members are statutorily prohibited from engaging in any service that “provides a direct benefit to” a business organized for profit. AmeriCorps members may be engaged in the distribution of food or medicine on behalf of public school districts, other public entities, or nonprofit organizations. We invite programs to think creatively so that we can approve your alternative member service activities. [updated 03/20]



18. I am currently conducting an evaluation of my AmeriCorps-funded program, but closures of service locations and/or disruptions to service activities due to COVID-19 are interfering with data collection for the evaluation. Can the timeline for my evaluation be extended?
Yes, grantees whose evaluations are affected by COVID-19 are eligible to apply for this type of relief – Alternative Evaluation Approach (AEA). The AmeriCorps State and National Alternative Evaluation Approach (AEA) guidance allows grantees to request an extended timeline for an evaluation that cannot be completed during the current grant cycle. Please follow the instructions in the AEA guidance for how to submit an AEA request outside of the recompete grant application process. [updated 03/20]



19. Closures and disruptions due to COVID-19 are making it difficult for me to complete my Grantee Progress Report.  Can the GPR due date be extended?
The Grantee Progress Report instructions state the following:
If you cannot meet the submission deadline for the progress report, you must request an extension from your Program Officer/Portfolio Manager. Requests for extensions may be granted when:

  1. The report cannot be finished in a timely manner for reasons legitimately beyond the control of the grantee, and
  2. CNCS receives a request explaining the need for an extension before the due date of the report.

Closures and service disruptions related to COVID-19 qualify as “reasons legitimately beyond the control of the grantee,” and so are a legitimate basis to request a GPR due date extension. Please contact your Program Officer/Portfolio Manager if you need to request an extension. [updated 03/20]

AmeriCorps VISTA Program Specific Questions

Last update 3/30/20

CNCS is closely monitoring the latest developments related to COVID-19. As Americans prepare for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in their community, you may have concerns about the potential impact of this new virus on your program. To help address these concerns, we are providing you with these FAQs. They will be updated regularly.

These FAQs do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. You should refer to CNCS’s statute and regulations for applicable requirements.

 

1. May VISTA members teleserve full-time?
Yes, VISTA members may teleserve full-time. VISTA is granting two temporary exceptions to the teleservice policy: (1) VISTA members may exceed the two-day per pay period cap, and (2) all currently serving VISTA members are eligible to teleserve, regardless of when their service began. In accordance with VISTA policies, a VISTA project should ensure that the member has an approved teleservice agreement in place before permitting a VISTA member to engage in teleservice activities. The teleservice agreement can be found online here. Members who have an existing teleservice agreement do not need to complete a new one. [updated 3/18]



2. What if a VISTA member cannot teleserve due to lack of teleservice resources?
If a member cannot teleserve due to lack of teleservice resources or lack of assignments suitable for teleservice, the sponsor may grant up to 30 calendar days of emergency leave. This is a temporary exception to the policy permitting sponsors to grant up to five days of emergency leave.  Section 105(b)(1) of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, as amended, authorizes CNCS to provide leave allowances to members, and gives CNCS the discretion to make a temporary exception to the policy. [updated 3/18]



3. Who determines if a VISTA member should teleserve, be granted emergency leave, or continue reporting on site?
The health and safety of our AmeriCorps members is our top priority. What health and safety looks like for members varies by individual circumstances, which is why members will each decide for themselves if continuing to report on site or teleserve is most appropriate for them at this time.

Members who elect not to report to their service site should teleserve. Members who cannot teleserve due to lack of teleservice resources or lack of assignments suitable for teleservice, will be granted up to 30 days of emergency leave.

Members need to communicate their decision to their supervisor, via email.  We ask that all our supervisors and sponsors fully honor and respect each member’s decision. [updated 3/20]
 


4. May a VISTA member teleserve if the member is quarantined?
If a member is not ill and is able to teleserve, the existence of a quarantine does not prevent teleservice. VISTA is granting two temporary exceptions to the teleservice policy: (1) VISTA members may exceed the two-day per pay period cap, and (2) all currently serving VISTA members are eligible to teleserve, regardless of when their service began. [updated 3/12]

 

5. Does a quarantine imposed by a federal, state, or local health officials count against a VISTA member’s leave time?
No, if a member is quarantined by a federal, state or local health official, it does not count against their leave time.  When at all possible, members should teleserve if they are able to do so. Members who can teleserve should do so. See above regarding the availability of teleservice.

If a member cannot teleserve due to lack of teleservice resources or lack of assignments suitable for teleservice, the sponsor may grant up to 30 calendar days of emergency leave. This is a temporary exception to the policy permitting sponsors to grant up to five days of emergency leave. Section 105(b)(1) of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, as amended, authorizes CNCS to provide leave allowances to members, and gives CNCS the discretion to make a temporary exception to this policy. Emergency leave does not count against a member’s personal or sick leave. [updated 3/12]

 

6. What should a VISTA who has reason to self-quarantine or would like to self-isolate do?
Members who can teleserve should do so. See above regarding the availability of teleservice.

If a member cannot teleserve due to lack of teleservice resources or lack of assignments suitable for teleservice, the sponsor may grant up to 30 calendar days of emergency leave. This is a temporary exception to the policy permitting sponsors to grant up to five days of emergency leave. Section 105(b)(1) of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, as amended, authorizes CNCS to provide leave allowances to members, and gives CNCS the discretion to make a temporary exception to this policy. [updated 3/12]



7. What should a VISTA member do if a service site is closed for a significant amount of time?
If the physical service site is closed, the VISTA should teleserve, if they are able to do so. See above for details. If the service site is ceasing operations altogether, the VISTA Supervisor should contact the assigned Portfolio Manager/ Program Officer. [updated 3/12]



8. Is medical documentation necessary to receive a prorated end of service benefit if a member needs to early terminate due to coronavirus issues?
No. As a temporary exception to VISTA policy, a member may submit a written statement describing the member’s circumstances in lieu of medical documentation. [updated 3/12]



9. Can VISTA grant funds be used to offset costs of additional expenses related to coronavirus?
No. The use of VISTA grant funds is restricted to payroll, supervision, training, and travel. [updated 3/12]

 

10. Can a VISTA member be reimbursed for traveling to be tested for COVID-19?
The best source for COVID-19 resources is the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Follow their guidance on who should be tested and measures for testing. If testing is recommended, and traveling to get tested presents a financial hardship, members should contact the VISTA Member Support Unit at vmsu@cns.gov for emergency funds assistance. [updated 3/18]

 

11. Should we continue to place and plan on members participating in upcoming VISTA Member Orientations (VMO)?
The VISTA Member Orientation scheduled for April 13, 2020 has been canceled. At this time, we plan to hold the VMO scheduled for May 11, 2020, and will update you immediately if there are any changes to the schedule.

The VISTA program will contact candidates enrolled in the April VMO and advise them they have been moved to the May VMO. Candidates will be directed to contact their VISTA supervisor if the change in start date raises challenges. [updated 3/18]

 

12. What provisions are available for VISTA members that have child care issues because of school closures?
The AmeriCorps Child Care benefit provider is making every effort in following CDC recommendations while the country is taking safety measures to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). If you have questions about the childcare benefit, please contact the provider, GAPSI, at:
Phone: 855-886-0687
Email: AmeriCorpsChildCare@gapsi.com

If child care services are unavailable due to school and daycare closures, VISTA members may use emergency leave to provide child care. [updated 3/18]

 

13. A VISTA project’s fingerprint location has notified them that they will be closed for 6 weeks.  Are there any alternative solutions to fingerprinting VISTA members at this time?
VISTA has developed a virtual alternative to fingerprint submissions for background checks.

For all VISTA members who started service on March 16, 2020, AmeriCorps VISTA will be conducting online name-based criminal history background checks. This means VISTA members do not need to physically go get fingerprinted and mail fingerprint cards to VISTA Headquarters. VISTA members are still required to complete a criminal history background check, via the online name-based process.

Members who started service on March 16 will receive an email from VISTAFingerprint@cns.gov with instructions and timelines for completing the online criminal history background check. Questions about this process should be directed to  VISTAFingerprint@cns.gov.

If a member started service prior to March 16 and has not yet submitted fingerprints, they will also receive an email from VISTAFingerprint@cns.gov with instructions and timelines for completing the online criminal history background check. [updated 3/18]

 

14. Can an alum who is exited AmeriCorps/NCCC/Peace Corps early for compelling circumstances due to the coronavirus be eligible to apply to serve as a VISTA Leader in the future?
Yes, if a member early exited a service program for compelling circumstances due to the coronavirus, and completed at least 75% of their service term, they are eligible to apply to serve as a VISTA Leader in the future. [updated 3/18]

 

15. Can VISTA assignments be amended to add activities related to COVID-19 response efforts? Can the activities include direct service?
Yes, on a limited basis, sponsors may participate in short-term response activities in low-income
communities following an emergency such as COVID-19.

In response to COVID-19, VISTA members may engage in limited direct service activities that are not part of their original project application, for a short period of time, generally for up to 30 days.

In making changes to VISTA assignments, the sponsor must ensure:

  • The sponsor and VISTA member both voluntarily wish to be involved in such service.
  • Appropriate supervision and other supports are available to the VISTA.
  • The services activities will not endanger the safety of the VISTA. VISTA members may not engage in medically related activities that put them in direct contact with individuals known to be diagnosed with or potentially exposed to COVID-19.
  • The service activities are targeted to the low-income community.

VISTA member assignments may also be modified to include indirect service and teleservice activities that were not part of the original assignment. Sponsors must notify their Program Officer/Portfolio Manager via email to report the new activities that will take place, and the members who will participate in those activities.

All VISTA program policies, terms and conditions remain in effect and benefits and protections afforded and provided to VISTAs and sponsors shall continue as if the VISTAs are in traditional service at the originally assigned site. [updated 3/18]

 

16. I am unsure of who my CNCS Portfolio Manager/Program Officer is and how to contact them.  What should I do?
Please visit NationalService.gov/about/contact-us/state-offices, and contact the State Program Director or Senior Portfolio Manager listed for the state in which your sponsoring organization is located. [updated 3/20]

 

17. I oversee an intermediary VISTA project.  Should members communicate their plans to use emergency leave to their site supervisors or to me?
As the intermediary project director, you are responsible for knowing the status of each member serving with your project, and for timely communicating such information to VISTA program as needed.  Please ensure that you are in close communication with members and/or site supervisors with your project.  Understanding the operating status of a site and/or member will help you ensure the guidance is followed and will also help you determine when you need to contact your Program Office or Portfolio Manager.  [updated 3/20]

 

18. If a member chooses to continue reporting to site now, will the member be able to utilize teleservice or emergency leave at a later date? 
Yes, a member may utilize teleservice or emergency leave at a later date during this critical time.  We understand that this is a constantly evolving situation and that a member’s individual circumstances may also change. [updated 3/20]

 

19. If a member utilizes emergency leave, is a sponsor still required to make sponsor benefit payments such as housing or gas cards?
A member utilizing emergency leave is still considered to be in a service status, and therefore will continue to receive standard benefits from CNCS (e.g. living allowance).  We understand that some projects elect to provide additional benefits to members as part of their service commitment.  While CNCS does not require sponsors to provide additional benefits to members, we do require additional benefits to be offered and available equally to all members at a site. This includes members who are teleserving as well as those utilizing emergency leave.  Please note that a sponsor’s withdrawal of benefits originally provided to members may impact their ability to continue or complete their service term.  [updated 3/20]

 

20. Can VISTA members use a combination of emergency leave & teleservice?
Yes, VISTA members may use a combination of emergency leave and teleservice. VISTA members must communicate their emergency leave and teleservice schedules to their supervisor. [updated 3/20]

 

21. May a VISTA teleserve from a place other than their residence?
VISTA members, with supervisor approval, may teleserve from a location other than their current residence. VISTA members should request, and supervisors should approve the new location in writing, via email. This is a constantly evolving situation, and for that reason, all VISTA members must be prepared to report back to their service site within 24 hours. [updated 3/20]

 

22. What emergency travel benefits are available to VISTA members?
Under section 105(b)(1) of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, as amended, CNCS is authorized to provide VISTAs such “travel and other support” that is necessary and appropriate to carry out the purpose of the VISTA program.  Accordingly, CNCS may provide VISTAs certain emergency travel benefits to VISTAs to support their continued service in the VISTA program during this critical time.

Therefore, members who need to travel for circumstances related to COVID-19 may be eligible for emergency travel benefits. This may include members who need to travel to an alternate location due to housing closures and members who need to travel due to their own illness or that of an immediate family member.

The VISTA Member Support Unit (VMSU) will follow up individually with members approved for emergency travel who are scheduled to complete service in the near future and entitled to Close of Service travel. The VMSU will determine the appropriate benefit. 

To request emergency travel, the VISTA supervisor should send the VISTA Member Support Unit (vmsu@cns.gov) an email titled “Emergency Travel – Member’s Name”, with the following information:

  • VISTA Member’s Name
  • National Service Participant ID (if available)
  • Contact phone number and email for VISTA member
  • Name of VISTA Supervisor & VISTA Project Director (if different people)
    • The supervisor must also cc the project director (if different) on the email
  • Reason/need for travel
  • Departure date & return date (if known)
  • Departure city
  • Arrival city
  • Method of travel (plane, car, bus, train)

The VMSU will follow up with the member to process the request. [updated 3/24]

 

23. Is emergency assistance available to VISTA members? 
Under section 105(b)(1) of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, as amended, CNCS is authorized to ensure that VISTAs have available “allowances and other support’ that will enable them to continue their VISTA service and thereby carry out the purpose of the VISTA program.  Accordingly, CNCS may provide VISTAs certain emergency assistance to support their continued service in the VISTA program during this critical time.

Therefore, for the duration of a VISTA’s term of service, emergency assistance may be available if the assistance is essential to the VISTA’s capacity to serve effectively. Emergency funds may be appropriate in extraordinary circumstances that present the VISTA member with an undue financial hardship. VISTA members may be eligible for a one-time payment of up to $500 to cover emergency costs.  This benefit will be paid via the voucher process and may take up to 8-10 weeks to process.

To request emergency assistance, the VISTA supervisor should send the VISTA Member Support Unit (vmsu@cns.gov) an email titled “Emergency Assistance Request – Member’s Name,” with the following information:

  • VISTA member’s name
  • National Service Participant ID (if available)
  • Contact phone number and email for VISTA member
  • Name of VISTA Supervisor and VISTA Project Director (if different people)
    • The supervisor must also cc the project director (if different) on the email
  • Written statement from the VISTA member detailing:
    • The circumstances surrounding the emergency costs
    • An explanation of why the emergency assistance is essential to the VISTA’s ability to serve effectively
    • The cost of the item(s) associated with the emergency assistance

The VMSU will follow up with the member to process the request. [updated 3/24]

 

24. What coverage is provided for COVID-19 testing under the VISTA health benefit? If a VISTA member is diagnosed with COVID-19, what is covered under the VISTA health benefit? 
A VISTA member must be enrolled in either the AmeriCorps VISTA Healthcare Allowance or the AmeriCorps VISTA Health Benefit Plan to receive health benefit coverage. If a member is not already enrolled, they can enroll now at Americorpsvista.imglobal.com/

The best source for COVID-19 resources is the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Follow their guidance on who should be tested and measures for testing. If testing for COVID-19 is recommended, testing is covered under both the AmeriCorps VISTA Healthcare Allowance and the AmeriCorps VISTA Health Benefit Plan. 

If a VISTA member is diagnosed with COVID-19, both the AmeriCorps VISTA Healthcare Allowance and the AmeriCorps VISTA Health Benefit Plan will cover medically necessary care, in accordance with the benefit plan.

For further questions about the VISTA health benefit, please contact International Medical Group at:
Telephone: 855-851-2974 (toll-free) or 317-833-1711
Email: VISTAcare@imglobal.com
[updated 3/30]



25. I have a Project Progress Report (PPR) due soon. Due to the COVID-19 response, our VISTA members have been on emergency leave, the project has not met planned accomplishments for the reporting period, and/or I am not able to collect data from some sites. What should I do? 
You should complete the PPR by the established due date and include the information you have available. Document your challenges, how you mitigated them, and any technical assistance you need from CNCS. The PPR is a way for sponsors to document project accomplishments during a certain reporting period, as well as challenges, support provided to VISTA members, and technical assistance (TA) needs. CNCS personnel use the PPR to assess progress and to determine what feedback, technical assistance, or other interventions are needed. 

By completing the PPR, you are providing CNCS with information about your COVID-19 related challenges in implementing the project, which allows CNCS to work with you on potential changes to programming, flexibilities, or other technical assistance that your organization, partners, staff, and members need. You can document what has transpired (successes, challenges, changes in member status and recruitment plans, TA needs, etc.)  in the narrative section of the PPR. Please be specific in the narrative section. For performance measures, if you would like to provide any additional information for a performance measure set, you should provide it in the “Sponsor Note” section.  If targets are not on track to be achieved, provide an explanation, such as “No data from ABC After-School Program due to March 12, 2020, closure at XYZ Elementary School in response to COVID-19.”  [updated 3/30]


26. I am a currently serving VISTA and would like to change my End-of-Service Award from the Education Award to the Cash Stipend, but missed the 10th-month deadline. Am I still able to switch to the Cash Stipend?
Yes, as a temporary COVID-19 related exception to policy, members are allowed to change their End-of-Service Award from the Education Award to the Cash Stipend during this time. You must submit a request to change your End-of-Service Award from the Education Award to the Cash Stipend to the VISTA Member Support Unit (VMSU) at VMSU@cns.gov at least one week prior to your end of service. One week is required for the Corporation for National and Community Service to complete the necessary actions to make the change to your End-of-Service Award status.

Individuals will not be allowed to switch their End-of-Service Award if:

  • The individual already completed service.
  • The member selected the Cash Stipend and wants to switch to the Education Award.

Members should contact the VMSU at VMSU@cns.gov if they have any questions or to submit a request. [updated 3/30]

AmeriCorps NCCC Program Specific Questions

Last update 3/25/20

CNCS is closely monitoring the latest developments related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Understandably, community members, National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) members, and sponsors may have questions and concerns about the potential impact COVID-19 on the NCCC program. To help address these concerns, we are providing you with these FAQs. 

These FAQs do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. You should refer to CNCS’s statute and regulations for applicable requirements.


1. How is NCCC ensuring the safety of AmeriCorps NCCC members?
AmeriCorps NCCC is committed to protecting the health and safety of AmeriCorps NCCC staff and members. AmeriCorps NCCC will suspend all active NCCC members through May 18, 2020, during which they will continue to receive their living allowance and health benefits. AmeriCorps NCCC staff will coordinate with members to arrange travel for members to their Home of Record.  Staff will also be contacting AmeriCorps NCCC members with additional information about the suspension and travel. [updated 3/18]

 

2. I am an incoming NCCC member and am concerned about potential exposure to the coronavirus if I travel to the campus by air.
The safety and security of members is our highest priority. We are closely monitoring guidance regarding COVID-19 in order to share information in a timely manner and are implementing recommended safety precautions.  Typically, travel arrangements are made two to four weeks before the travel occurs. Depending on the circumstances at that time, NCCC will make appropriate travel arrangements for members. If programmatic changes become necessary, incoming members will be notified. [updated 3/12]

 

3. NCCC has graduation events scheduled in March 2020 and May 2020. Are these events going to occur?
NCCC cancelled all graduation events through May 15. NCCC is closely monitoring the situation in locations where graduation events are scheduled for after May 15. NCCC graduations will be live-streamed on Facebook to allow members to share their accomplishments with family and friends. Please continue to monitor the CNCS website and NCCC communications for updates. [updated 3/16]

 

4. NCCC was scheduled to have a new class of FEMA Corps members begin service in Vicksburg, MS, on March 16, 2020. How has Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) impacted that class?
Based on current developments and out of an abundance of caution, AmeriCorps NCCC made the difficult decision to postpone the start of this class. Incoming Vicksburg NCCC FEMA Corps members are in an emergency leave status through May 18, 2020. This is consistent with the decision to suspend active corps members through May 18, 2020. While on emergency leave, incoming FEMA Corps members will receive their living allowance and health benefits. NCCC staff contacted individuals impacted by this decision to modify travel arrangements. [updated 3/20]

 

5. Will AmeriCorps NCCC change service hour requirements, the service end date, and education award requirements in light of members being suspended and put on emergency leave?
AmeriCorps NCCC is working to minimize the impact and disruption on our members to the greatest extent possible. AmeriCorps NCCC is exploring all options within our existing legal authority on issues around service hour requirements, service end date, and education awards.  AmeriCorps NCCC will share more information as soon as we are able. [updated 3/20]

 

6.  Are AmeriCorps NCCC members allowed to have other jobs while suspended on emergency leave?
No. The Member Handbook prohibits members from holding employment while serving in NCCC. [updated 3/20]

 

7.  Can AmeriCorps NCCC members earn ISP service hours while suspended on emergency leave? 
No, members cannot earn ISP hours while on emergency leave. [updated 3/20]

 

8. Are AmeriCorps NCCC members who are suspended on emergency leave required to abide by all NCCC rules and policies?
Yes, all NCCC rules and policies still apply because the status as a NCCC member has not changed. Members who engage in prohibited activities such as illegal drug use are subject to disciplinary action. [updated 3/20]

 

9. AmeriCorps NCCC shared information about full-time positions with FEMA. Can you share more information about those positions? Could an NCCC member hold a FEMA position while they are suspended on emergency leave from NCCC?  
Members who accept employment with FEMA must resign from NCCC.  More information about the FEMA positions can be found here: careers.fema.gov/ or by contacting fema-corps-program@fema.dhs.gov for more information and next steps. [updated 3/20]

 

10. If I graduate from NCCC and do not have a job, does that qualify me for unemployment benefits?
No. The loss of a living allowance at the end of the AmeriCorps NCCC program does not constitute a basis for claiming unemployment compensation. [updated 3/25]

 

11. I am suspended on emergency leave status. Does that qualify me for unemployment benefits?
Placement on emergency leave is still an active member status and does not constitute a basis for claiming unemployment compensation. [updated 3/25]

 

12. The AmeriCorps NCCC program is currently suspended. Will future application deadlines be extended? Does AmeriCorps NCCC expect to cancel any future classes?
AmeriCorps NCCC is not currently extending deadlines or modifying application timeframes. We will continue to monitor developments and may make changes to future deadlines or classes, if necessary. [updated 3/25]

 

13. As part of my AmeriCorps NCCC application, I must submit fingerprints. How can I get my fingerprints done I am unable to get to a fingerprinting location?
If you run into difficulty getting fingerprints, please contact your Selection and Placement assistant or email ANCCC@cns.gov to discuss options. [updated 3/25]

Research and Evaluation (and SIF) Specific Questions

Last update 3/24/20

CNCS is closely monitoring the latest developments related to COVID-19. As Americans prepare for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in their community, you may have concerns about the potential impact of this new virus on your program. To help address these concerns, we are providing you with these FAQs. They will be updated regularly.

These FAQs do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. You should refer to CNCS’s statute and regulations for applicable requirements.

 

Information for Research Grantees:

1. As a CNCS research grantee, what do I do if my work plan changes due to cancelations at the university and community events?
If you are a 2015 or 2017 National Service and Civic Engagement Research Grantee or a 2018 Community Conversations Research Grantee and your work plans will be affected due to public health concerns associated with COVID-19, please contact your CNCS Program Officer by email with specific information regarding your situation and anticipated impacts. [updated 3/13]

 

2. As a 2017 National Service and Civic Engagement Research Grantee completing the third year of a grant, can we apply for a no-cost extension if my work plan changes due to cancelations at the university and at other organizations associated with my research?
Consistent with OMB’s Memorandum “Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) due to Loss of Operations,” issued March 19, 2020, if you are a 2017 National Service and Civic Engagement Research third-year grantee you are able to request a one-year, no cost extension. Please contact your CNCS Program Officer by email with specific information regarding your situation and anticipated impacts. [updated 3/24]


Information for Social Innovation Fund Grantees:

1. As a CNCS Social Innovation Fund 2015 or 2016 grantee, what do I do as the Program Lead if implementation of my awarded application, subgrantee work plan, or approved evaluation study design and communication plan is impacted due to COVID-19 public health concerns?
If you are a 2015 or 2016 Social Innovation Fund grantee and your funded and approved application work plans will be affected due to public health concerns associated with COVID-19, please contact your CNCS Program Officer by email with specific information regarding your situation and anticipated impacts. [updated 3/13]

 

2. We are sharing our expectations with our SIF subgrantees, specifically related to time reporting. In terms of verification of the time and activities performed, we’re looking at options to validate claimed hours when subgrantees are unable to complete normal business practices. It is our understanding that our subgrantee staff are working remotely, however some of their existing grants management processes are a bit ill-suited for teleworking. For those that may not have an electronic timekeeping system or typically use hard copy timesheets, would an email from a staff person to their supervisor, noting the dates and time spent on SIF activities – with a subsequent email from the supervisor “approving” be sufficient documentation?
Uniform Guidance 200.430i does not require time sheets, just the recording of time for a specific employee with percentage breakdown on all activities, both Federally funded and non-Federally funded, and the assurance that it is accurate, allowable, and properly allocated. This allows for you and your subawards to have some flexibility on how exactly how you will document timekeeping and chargeable activity information.

Grantees and subgrantees should follow their internal policies for timekeeping and verifying timesheets when an employee is not available to sign their timesheet. If a policy is not in place, there are alternative ways to create those records. Employees who are teleworking may submit alternative written submissions to their supervisor noting hours they have served. Rather than using a timesheet, their submissions may be sent, for example, via email. The supervisor may, in turn, approve each submission by sending a response back to the employee with a notation such as “Hours submitted approved”. In addition to the emailed information and approvals themselves, both you as the Grantee and the subawards should document the temporary change in timekeeping practices in an internal memo kept for their records and yours.

Uniform Guidance:
2 CFR 200.430(i) requires non-Federal entities to maintain records that “accurately reflect the work performed.” These records must:

  • Be supported by a system of internal control which provides reasonable assurance that the time being charged is accurate, allowable, and properly allocated
  • Are incorporated in the official records, such as payroll records
  • Reasonably reflect the employee’s total activity
  • Provide a time or percentage breakdown on all activities, both Federally funded and non-Federally funded, for the employee
  • Comply with the non-Federal entity’s pre-established accounting practices and procedures
  • As stated at 2 CFR 200.430(i)(8), non-Federal entities that cannot meet the aforementioned conditions may be required to submit personnel activity reports. [updated 3/20]

Day of Service Funding Opportunity Specific Questions

Last update 3/24/20

CNCS is closely monitoring the latest developments related to COVID-19. As Americans prepare for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in their community, you may have concerns about the potential impact of this new virus on your program. To help address these concerns, we are providing you with these FAQs. They will be updated regularly.

These FAQs do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. You should refer to CNCS’s statute and regulations for applicable requirements.

 

1. Is the application deadline for the Day of Service Notice of Funding Opportunity,  (NOFO) being extended because of COVID-19’s impact on grantees?
The application deadline remains/remained Wednesday, March 25, at 5 p.m. Eastern Time. However, in order to provide administrative relief to applicants affected by the loss of operational capacity and increased costs due to the COVID-19 crisis, these applicants will overcome the presumption of non-compliance due to lateness if they:

  • submit their application by Wednesday, April 1, 2020, by 5 p.m. Eastern Time AND
  • submit to LateApplications@cns.gov in no more than 200 words a compelling written explanation or justification of the extenuating circumstance(s) that caused the delay, including a description of the loss of operational capacity and increased costs due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Other applicants that are late must follow the late application instructions in the Day of Service Notice of Funding Opportunity, Section D.4.c. Late Applications, including submission of the application and written explanation or justification of the extenuating circumstances within 24 hours of the Application Submission Deadline, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, at 5 p.m. Eastern Time. [updated 3/24]

 

2. How did the NOFO change when it was amended?
The NOFO amendment adds the late application process for applications that are late because of operational capacity or increased costs due to COVID-19, as described in the above FAQ. The late application process for other late applications was unchanged from the original NOFO. [updated 3/24]

For more information, please visit:

CDC CoronavirusU.S. Government Response to Coronavirus Coronavirus.gov

 

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