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Maine AmeriCorps Funding Competition Targets Health and Education Issues

Published February 20, 2012

AUGUSTA - Every three years, the Maine Commission for Community Service issues a call for proposals from regional, county, and community organizations that want to use AmeriCorps volunteers to tackle local problems. The announcement of the competition was issued recently and organizations have until April 26, 2012, to design a program and submit the application.

"There have been a number of changes in how AmeriCorps grants will work," said Michael Ashmore, the Commission's grant programs officer. "For one thing, there is a real emphasis on using proven strategies - what the federal agency calls evidence-based programming. This is coupled with a strong interest in putting teams to work in geographic areas where the impact of their work will change or improve things for many residents, not just the clients of Agency X."

The 2012 AmeriCorps grant competition will award funds allocated to the Maine Commission for Community Service by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Applications must propose AmeriCorps programs that fall within one of the funding priorities:

  • engage citizen volunteers in service that promotes health and wellness through increased physical activities and decreased obesity;
  • build capacity of organizations and schools to decrease the incidence of obesity as prevention of type 2 diabetes;
  • build capacity of organizations and schools contributing to an increase in the percentage of students who complete high school and pursue post high-school training or education; or
  • increase adoption of service learning as a method of teaching by educators, school districts, higher education, and after school or summer youth programs.

Ashmore noted, "We've written the application guidance to make people aware of the various approaches to designing a program and AmeriCorps models. So many organizations think all AmeriCorps members receive stipends or all AmeriCorps programs operate year round. There's much more variety when you look around the country at how schools, colleges, municipal governments, and nonprofits have married local needs to volunteer solutions and AmeriCorps as the implementing mechanism."

This year, one option available to grant applicants offers $2,000 for volunteer management for every 1,700 hours of AmeriCorps positions requested. A proposal must support a minimum of 17,000 hours of AmeriCorps member time. The federal dollars require a match but that local share can come from "soft match" of services, supplies, equipment, and other program support as well as cash.

Because this option - called AmeriCorps Education Award Program - is best suited for seasonal programs, college campus-based volunteer placements at community agencies, or volunteer solutions that require only 5-10 hours a week, the grant funds are targeted to support recruitment, supervision, and training of the AmeriCorps volunteers.

The traditional full cost-sharing grant for AmeriCorps is also available to organizations but with the same funding priorities of health and education. Awards for these grants require a greater match that must be tracked and recorded over the three-year life of the grant.

To register and download a copy of the Request for Proposal (ME RFP 201112193), visit MaineServiceCommission.gov/grants.

The Maine Commission for Community Service builds capacity and sustainability in Maine's volunteer and service communities by funding programs, developing managers of volunteers and service learning practitioners, raising awareness of sector issues, and promoting service as a strategy to resolve local problems.