eGrants/MyAmeriCorps Release 3 for VISTA Sponsors

General Information

What is eGrants? What is MyAmeriCorps?

VISTA and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS or the Corporation) need to track VISTA grants and members used by sponsoring organizations such as yours. To help with this task, the Corporation has two online systems:

  • eGrants is used by programs to track and report on their VISTA grants
  • MyAmeriCorps (also known as the Portal) is used by AmeriCorps and VISTA members to manage their service experiences

The Corporation has linked the two systems to allow for more efficient tracking of grants and members. Even though they are linked, they still retain some separate user roles that will allow you to do different things depending on which role(s) you have.

How do I get access to eGrants/MyAmeriCorps?

In order to access either eGrants or MyAmeriCorps, you need an eGrants account. To get one, go to https://egrants.cns.gov/espan/main/login.jsp, click the link labeled Don't have an eGrants account? Create an account, and follow the instructions provided. You will need to have your organization’s Employer Identification Number (EIN, also often called a “tax ID number”) handy in order to create your account. Your organization’s Grantee Administrator will then log into eGrants, activate your account, and assign you one or more user roles depending on the type of data you work with (e.g., VISTA grant or member management data).

How is the most recent release of eGrants/MyAmeriCorps different from earlier versions?

With this most recent release (Release 3) of eGrants and the Portal, VISTA sponsors will now use the two online systems to accomplish certain required tasks in managing their VISTA members and supervisors. Of particular note:

The paper-based Close-of-Service (COS) process is now automated to allow members, supervisors, and State Office staff to complete their portions of the Future Plans Forms online.

  • The Training Request process for outside training events will be automated, allowing VISTA sponsors to request funding approval from the State Office through MyAmeriCorps.
  • Sponsors will now directly enroll their members and/or supervisors in CNCS events from within MyAmeriCorps. (This applies to in-service trainings and supervisor orientations only, not to Pre-Service Orientations.)
  • Sponsors will be notified via email to access the Portal to print out a Sponsor Verification Report to fax to the State Office every two weeks. You will no longer receive automated faxes from your State Office requesting this information.

What is the difference between the VMSU and the eGrants Help Desk? How do I get in touch with them?

The VISTA Member Support Unit (VMSU) is a Corporation office based in Texas with staff members who are specifically trained to help members use the Portal and get to their Pre-Service Orientations. Members can contact the VMSU at 800.942.2677 (from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time) or submit a question online.

The eGrants Help Desk provides technical support to program staff using eGrants and MyAmeriCorps. You can contact the Help Desk by calling 800.942.2677, by submitting a question online, or by clicking the Contact Help Desk link found at the bottom left-hand corner of the page when you are logged into eGrants.

Where can I go for information and training on eGrants and MyAmeriCorps?

The National Service Knowledge Network has many training and technical assistance documents, tutorials, and resources on the Portal for use by VISTA sponsor staff.

Roles and Privileges in eGrants and MyAmeriCorps

What are user roles?

User roles are collections of tools and privileges assigned to different eGrants/MyAmeriCorps users depending on the type of VISTA grant- or member-management data they will be working with.

What are the user roles available for VISTA program staff?

  • The eGrants/MyAmeriCorps roles available for staff of VISTA programs are:
  • Grantee Administrator (eGrants and MyAmeriCorps)
  • Grantee with access to budget (eGrants only)
  • Grantee without access to budget (eGrants only)
  • Grantee Recruiter (MyAmeriCorps only)
  • VISTA Grantee Member Management (MyAmeriCorps only)
  • Grantee Travel Profile (My AmeriCorps only)

What can users with each of the roles do?

The National Service Knowledge Network has a job aid, "What's My Role?—eGrants/MyAmeriCorps User Roles for VISTA Programs," that details the tools and privileges available to users with each of the VISTA-specific roles in eGrants and MyAmeriCorps. You can download this document here (PDF, 44KB).

Can I have more than one role?

Yes. For example, you might want to have both the Grantee Recruiter and VISTA Grantee Member Management roles so that you can recruit VISTAs and manage their member records after they are placed at your agency.

How do I know which role(s) I need for myself or my staff?

You can use the “What's My Role?—eGrants/MyAmeriCorps User Roles for VISTA Programs” job aid to figure out which role(s) you and/or your colleagues need. You can download it here (PDF, 44KB).

How do I know what eGrants/MyAmeriCorps roles are assigned to me?

When you log into eGrants, you can see what role or roles you were assigned on your My Account page.

We have a "prime-plus-subs" grant with the Corporation. What does this mean for how we use eGrants and MyAmeriCorps?

If you are a sponsor with this type of project in eGrants, your sub-projects will already have eGrants accounts. This will allow you to create sub-applications and your sub-projects to use MyAmeriCorps to create project listings, select candidates, and request placements.

In addition to VISTA members, I also oversee AmeriCorps*State and AmeriCorps*National members. Will I need different user roles in eGrants and MyAmeriCorps to manage them?

Yes. To learn more about the roles you will need and how to use them, visit the National Service Knowledge Network's MyAmeriCorps training and technical assistance pages for (respectively) AmeriCorps*State and AmeriCorps*National programs.

How do I add a user so that I can assign a role to him or her?

You will need to have new users apply for access to your organization’s eGrants/MyAmeriCorps site. They can do so by going to https://egrants.cns.gov/espan/main/login.jsp, clicking the link labeled Don't have an eGrants account? Create an account, and following the instructions provided. They will need your organization's Employer Identification Number (EIN, also often called a "tax ID number") to create their accounts.

Once a user creates an account, your organization’s Grantee Administrator will log into eGrants, activate his or her account, and assign the individual one or more roles on the Edit User Role/Permissions page (found on a Grantee Administrator's My Account page).

What does it mean when I “approve” a new user and what happens if I don’t?

It means you are activating his or her accounts to allow access to your organization’s eGrants/MyAmeriCorps site and assigning the roles needed to accomplish his or her work. If you do not approve that person, he or she will not be able to access eGrants or MyAmeriCorps.

How do I get the Grantee Administrator role assigned to me?

If you do not have an eGrants account, follow the instructions above in the “General Information” section to get one. Once you have an account you can ask the current Grantee Administrator to log into eGrants and assign you the Grantee Administrator role as well.

Can we have more than one person with Grantee Administrator access?

Yes, an organization can have multiple users with the Grantee Administrator role. It is recommended that more than one person have this role as a back up.

How do we select who receives notification emails from the systems, or turn them off if a user doesn’t want them?

Users may receive automatic notifications from eGrants/MyAmeriCorps depending on the role(s) they are assigned. Your Grantee Administrator can select or deselect roles depending on who does or doesn’t want to receive the notifications. The administrator does this by using the Edit User Role/Permissions page found on his or her My Account page in eGrants.

How do I deactivate a user?

Your Grantee Administrator can deactivate a user's account by clicking to remove the checkmark from the account's Active setting on the Edit User Role/Permissions page in eGrants.

Can VISTA Leaders use eGrants/MyAmeriCorps?

Yes, they can be assigned the Grantee Recruiter role to help you recruit VISTA members. However, even though the role comes with the ability to accept and reject applications from member candidates, VISTA Leaders are not allowed to do so. For more information, see the Corporation’s detailed guidance (PDF, 16KB) for Leaders’ use of the Portal.

General Usage

I have a large program with many members and site supervisors spread over a wide area. Is there a confidentiality protocol I can ask folks sign to help ensure there is appropriate use of the systems?

Many large sponsoring organizations have internal policies specifying that site supervisors only be given the Grantee Recruiter role, with staff at the parent organization retaining and using higher level roles. You may also wish to check in with your organization’s information technology department to see if they can make any recommendations for designing and implementing a security protocol.

Can I get any information about my VISTA alumni from the systems?

eGrants and MyAmeriCorps store data indefinitely, so you can certainly retrieve the records of members who served with you in the past. If you hope to contact your alumni, however, you may find that many have moved or stopped using the phone numbers and email addresses displayed in the systems.

Can I download or export the records of current applicants or members?

No, not at this time.

How do I help a VISTA who is having trouble using the Portal?

VISTA members who need assistance using the Portal should contact the VISTA Member Support Unit at 800.942.2677 (between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time) or submit a question online.

How will I know if a VISTA completes a required or requested task in the Portal?

Once a VISTA completes a task or updates information in the Portal, it is immediately saved and made available to you and others with the appropriate user roles. Whether and how you receive a notice about it depends on the task the VISTA is performing. Sometimes you will receive an email if something is awaiting your input or approval. Other times, the member’s record will appear in one of your workbaskets. You’ll need to check your eGrants account from time to time to see if you have anything requiring your input or review for that member.

If you change from one role to another and then back again, do you lose any of the information you had access to previously?

No, all information is stored in the system. Your user role simply defines what information you are allowed to access. If any information you could see before you changed roles is missing when you revert to your original role, chances are another staff person has acted on the information already. Consequently, it no longer will appear in your workbasket.

Technical Issues

What browser works best for viewing and working in eGrants and MyAmeriCorps?

The Corporation recommends Internet Explorer as the browser of choice for working with eGrants and MyAmeriCorps. Be sure that you have JavaScript enabled.

I forgot my password. What do I do?

On the eGrants login page at https://egrants.cns.gov/espan/main/login.jsp there is a link near the bottom labeled Forgot your password? Get help. Click there for assistance.

Who do I contact if I’m having technical difficulties?

You can contact the eGrants Help Desk by calling 800.942.2677, by submitting a question online, or by clicking the Contact Help Desk link found at the bottom left-hand corner of the page when you are logged into eGrants.

V81 Forms

Once I approve a V81 form for a member, it disappears. Why?

Once you sign off on a V81 form, it goes to the State Office, where it is reviewed and, if approved, archived in the member’s Portal profile. The member can go into the Portal to update the form, and the VMSU has access to it as well.

Should we print out copies of the V81 forms we wish to submit?

You can print out copies of the forms if you’d like to have a hard copy, but the information is saved electronically.

What do we do if we have questions about a member’s V81 form?

You should reject the form and then contact the member directly to ask questions about the part of the form you are concerned or confused about.

In-Service Trainings (ISTs) and Other Training Events

What role do I need to enroll VISTA members in In-Service Training events?

You will need the VISTA Grantee Member Management role.

How do I search for potential IST opportunities for my members and supervisors?

When you are logged into the Portal, click the Manage Events link and find the Search Events tool. Specify the attributes you’d like to search by—event name, city, state, start and end dates, and training type. Then click search. You can also contact your State Office, as they may know of other opportunities and/or can provide guidance about how ISTs are handled in your state (e.g., some State Offices organize statewide ISTs, while others distribute IST funds directly to programs).

Do VISTAs get notified automatically when I enroll them in a training event?

Yes.

Can VISTAs make their own IST requests?

No, only sponsor staff may make IST requests on behalf of VISTA members or supervisors.

Can VISTA members or supervisors sign themselves up for ISTs?

No, only sponsor staff may enroll members or supervisors in ISTs.

If my grant has IST funds, can those funds be used to send members to training events?

Check with your State Office. Each state handles ISTs differently.

Can I register members for PSOs?

No. After a VISTA candidate completes his or her travel profile in MyAmeriCorps and completes other tasks, the State Office will enroll him or her in a PSO.

How will I know if a training request is approved?

The request will be listed as approved on the Training tab of your VISTA workbasket. You will not receive an email notification, so you will need to log in to the Portal to check.

Can I complete the trainee registration profile for a supervisor myself?

No. Each supervisor that will be (or could potentially be) attending a Supervisor Orientation will need to sign up for an eGrants account, be assigned the Grantee Travel Profile role in MyAmeriCorps, and complete this form personally. Someone else cannot fill out the travel preferences for him or her.

How do I know when Supervisor Orientations are scheduled?

Contact your State Office.

Working with Member Records

How can I customize the display of member data in the search and edit member information view?

You can click on the table headings to sort the member records by name, date, and other criteria.

Why would I need to edit a member’s profile, when he or she can do it in the Portal?

Members don’t always keep critical information—including contact information—current.

What if a member's name is misspelled or he or she changes his/her name?

You cannot edit a member's name, and neither can the State Office nor the member. It must be changed by the staff of the eGrants Help Desk. Contact the Help Desk by calling 800.942.2677, by submitting a question online, or by clicking the Contact Help Desk link found at the bottom left-hand corner of the page when you are logged into eGrants.

Can I change a member’s Education Award selection?

No, only the member can make this change. Also note that a member cannot change his or her Education Award selection after the beginning of the tenth month of service and cannot change from the stipend to the Education Award.

Is there a simple way to delete all the old member applicants stored in Pending Applications?

When you select a VISTA for a position, his or her application should go away. If not, contact the eGrants Help Desk by calling 800.942.2677, by submitting a question online, or by clicking the Contact Help Desk link found at the bottom left-hand corner of the page when you are logged into eGrants.

Can I search applicants by state as opposed to the other information?

No, not at this time.

Can I delete out-of-date member records?

No. Records of former members remain archived in your eGrants account. This allows you to track former members and analyze member data, such as early-terminating members. It can be a useful tool for assessing your project and also help you stay in touch with former members or use them as resources in your recruitment efforts.

Sponsor Verification Report

Is the Sponsor Verification Report the same as the Member Termination Bi-Weekly Report?

Yes.

Who receives the emails reminding staff to complete the Sponsor Verification Report?

The email is sent to users with the Grantee Administrator and VISTA Grantee Member Management roles.

When completing the Sponsor Verification Form, how do I know what my program code is?

You can find your program code (also known as "project code," "project number," or "grant number") on your eGrants My Account page and on the memorandum of agreement your project signed with the Corporation. If you are unable to find it in either of those places, contact your State Office.

Does the Sponsor Verification Report track a member’s use of personal and/or sick time?

Individual project sponsors are required to track the amount of personal/sick leave used by their members. The Sponsor Verification Report does not track such leave.

Close of Service/Future Plans

What role(s) do I need to view and sign members' Future Plans Forms?

You will need either the Grantee Administrator or the VISTA Grantee Member Management role.

When do members receive notification of the need to complete the Future Plans Form?

Members will receive an email 90 days before their last day of service, prompting them to complete their portion of the Future Plan Form online within 60 days (i.e., 30 days prior to their last day of service). If the form is needed earlier (e.g., in the case of early termination), you can contact your State Office or the VMSU and they will "unlock" the form so the member can use it.

Can I also get a copy of the Close of Service notification that's sent to members so I can remind them?

No. The email notification will go to the member only.

Do I need to help members with the travel section of their Future Plans Forms?

No. Staff at the VMSU will contact the members and work with them to arrange their post-service travel.

What should I do if a VISTA makes a wrong selection on the Future Plans Form (e.g., she selects "exit" instead of "re-enroll")?

If you have the Grantee Administrator and/or VISTA Grantee Member Management roles, you can change the information for the member. You should also notify your State Office of the mistake.

Can I view the content of a member’s completed Future Plans form?

You will not have access to a member’s Future Plans Form after you complete your portion of it. The member will see your ratings, but you will not see the member’s responses to your ratings.

Do VISTA members see supervisor feedback on their Future Plans form upon termination?

Yes.

I have a large, multi-site project. As the sponsor, do I complete the Future Plans Forms for members, or do the site supervisors complete them?

Each program has a different system for completing the Future Plans Forms. Some allow only staff at the sponsoring agency to complete the forms; others allow site supervisors to do so. You will have to decide what works best for your program.

How do members re-enroll into another program?

Select re-enroll as the recommendation on the Future Plans Forms for members who want to serve another year in your program. For members who want to serve a second or third year but not with your program, select terminate. This reopens their application in MyAmeriCorps, which they can use to apply to other programs.

How do I terminate a member early?

Contact your State Office for assistance. A member ending service early will lose the Education Award, and needs to be made aware of this and other consequences. If the member insists on terminating early or has no other alternative, the State Office will then "unlock" the Future Plans Form to enable the member to complete it.

Can I request a member's extension through eGrants?

Yes. Select extension as your recommendation for the member on his/her Future Plans Form.

How do I request a transfer for a member who needs to relocate?

Contact your State Office immediately. There is a process for members who need or want to relocate and serve elsewhere.


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