What does a regional team look like?
CivicSpark teams will consist of a half-time Regional Coordinator and 3-7 full-time CivicSpark fellows who are AmeriCorps members. The Regional Coordinator in most areas will be a member of the regional partner agency. CivicSpark fellows will all have a college degree and will have past relevant experience in environmental sustainability. Fellows will be trained on California local and state policies, and will receive continued training throughout the year on tools and systems they can use for their direct service work. CivicSpark regional teams will complete 6-12 projects during their 11 month service year.
What can CivicSpark fellows work on?
CivicSpark teams will provide capacity-building support to local governments through research, planning, and project implementation activities. Each CivicSpark team will provide this support to local governments through a 4-step “intervention.”
Projects will likely focus on either research, planning, or implementation, though depending on the timeframe and beneficiary, it is plausible that a single project might include multiple stages of more than one.
Is there a list of projects by region?
How will CivicSpark help local governments create sustainable projects?
CivicSpark is dedicated to working with volunteers through engagement and support during the service year. All projects will have a community engagement piece to bring awareness, build community support, and create a sustainable model for the project. Fellows will work to develop or enhance a volunteer service program for the agency during their project, which will offer community members and college and high school students a way to support the community in realizing climate change response initiatives and continue to build capacity after the completion of the CivicSpark project.
When does CivicSpark start?
The 2016-17 service year will begin early October 2016 and will be completed by early September 2017.
What is AmeriCorps?
AmeriCorps is a community service program created to address the needs of local communities. AmeriCorps engages 80,000 members annually who complete intensive service to meet community needs in education, health, public safety, security, and the environment Since 1994, AmeriCorps members have served over 1 billion hours for their communities. CivicSpark fellows will be full time AmeriCorps members, completing a total of 1700 hours over 11 months, working to assist local communities, while gaining valuable experience and training. For more information, visit www.nationalservice.gov.
What are the eligibility criteria for nonprofits? Is it that the agencies served by the effort meet the criteria as defined?
Yes – If you are a nonprofit interested in applying for a CivicSpark project, the project must benefit a local government (or multiple local government agencies). When you complete the application and enter eligibility information, please use the information of the community that your work will support.
Will each CivicSpark fellow be available full-time for project work or should we assume availability closer to half-time?
This really depends on the needs of the region. We are offering the option of embedding a fellow into a community for a more intensive long-term project, but the team may work remotely from a Regional Partner’s office. We accept projects that can have at least one fellow working approximately full time for three, six, or eleven months. We can assign more than one fellow to a large project. Eleven month projects are “embedded” projects where the fellow works on site for the full service year.
Our agency has applied for a grant and assuming we are awarded the grant, we would love to use the funds to pay for a CivicSpark project. We won’t find out about the grant until after CivicSpark service year starts. What should we do?
Please go ahead and complete the basic CivicSpark application so we know that you are interested in CivicSpark. We will work with you to align the timing of the project so the CivicSpark team starts work after your grant is awarded and funds are available.
Are regional partners eligible to apply?
Definitely. We are looking forward on working with each of our regional partners on implementing CivicSpark projects.
What are the benefits of the program?
AmeriCorps was created to address community need through service. AmeriCorps members have the opportunity to make an impact in their community while gaining valuable career and life experience. All CivicSpark fellows/AmeriCorps members should leave the service year with an understanding of work within local governments, experience working with key climate change mitigation and adaptation tools, ability to analyze data, and ability to work successfully in a team office environment.
In exchange for their service, each fellow receives the following benefits:
Who can apply to the program?
Anyone within the U.S who is a citizen, national, or lawful permanent resident alien of the United States can apply to the program.
When are fellow applications due, and when will offers be made?
Fellow applications for the 2016-17 service year will open on May 25, 2016 and applications will be reviewed as they are received. Interviews will start in late July. The application and interviewing process will continue until all 68 positions are filled, even if that is after the start date for orientation.
How is this program similar to other AmeriCorps programs?
As an AmeriCorps member, you will be dedicating your time to improving your community through addressing a specific need. All CivicSpark fellows will participate in additional Service Days, including MLK Jr. Service Day, Cesar Chavez Service Day, and AmeriCorps week.
What is the time commitment for being a CivicSpark fellow?
Fellows serve for an 11-month period of time, and must complete a minimum of 1700 hours during that time period. Fellows will work full time, with 14 holidays and 40 hours of personal or sick time. Service years start in early October and end early September.
If I become a CivicSpark fellow, can I still have another job?
CivicSpark fellows are allowed to work a second job if they feel it necessary, although we encourage you to find a position with a flexible schedule, as you will be required to work traditional hours (8am-5pm) for CivicSpark, as well as occasional after hours and weekends when necessary. AmeriCorps service years are intensive programs, though, and we suggest you wait until your third month of service before setting up second jobs so you have a better idea of your time commitment to CivicSpark and your daily schedule.
How many hours of work will a team be able to complete during the year?
Teams made up of a half time regional coordinator and 3-7 full time CivicSpark fellows will be placed in each region. We estimate that a team of 3 fellows with their coordinator will be able to provide approximately 4000 direct project hours (exclusive of training and admin activities). A team of 7 with their coordinator will be able to provide approximately 9000 direct project hours.
What do I have to do to sign up for a CivicSpark project?
The application for Local Governments interested in CivicSpark is now open and available on our website. Learn more at civicspark.lgc/join-civicpark/project. The application consists of four main steps:
LGC will work closely with regional partners to align projects with the region’s greatest needs. Approved projects for the 2016-17 service year will start mid October.
What makes a project eligible?
Projects must have:
In addition, all projects must have a defined scope CivicSpark fellows can complete in the agreed upon timeframe, and project partners must agree to follow all AmeriCorps requirements and prevent fellows from completing prohibited activities.
What makes a beneficiary ‘high need’?
CivicSpark has a goal of having 50% of the beneficiaries served be considered high need, which is defined by two or more of the following:
Do I have to provide the CivicSpark team desk space and office resources?
If the fellow is going to work on-site for the duration of their project, then you should plan to provide desk space and office resources (computer, phone, etc). In some regions where fellows are working out of a Regional Partner office, they may be able to work on a project remotely. Talk with LGC about your space capacities when applying.
Can proposed CivicSpark projects include both mitigation and adaptation?
Yes. We work on both adaptation and mitigation projects.
I am not a local government, but I am interested in applying for support. Is this allowed?
CivicSpark has defined local government agencies as our “beneficiaries.” Therefore, as long as the project’s impact is benefiting a local government agency and CivicSpark teams can engage directly with the specific local government, CivicSpark is able to work with a range of organizations. In addition to local governments, AmeriCorps programs can partner with state agencies, nonprofits, public, and educational institutions. AmeriCorps programs cannot directly benefit for-profit entities. If a for-profit entity has a program benefiting local governments and wants to “hire” CivicSpark to deliver services to local governments, that is allowable. Further, LGC can work with private companies who want to sponsor CivicSpark to deliver capacity building services. For more information on sponsorship, visit out Support Page.
Can CivicSpark partner with tribal governments?
We are working on a project with a consortium of agencies benefiting multiple communities. Am I eligible for support through CivicSpark?
We are happy to work on larger projects that will create lasting impacts for multiple local governments. However, to effectively deliver our defined services (and stay in compliance with our funded scope), each participating local government will need to complete each step of our 4-step service process as well as the pre- and post- Climate Response Capacity Assessment surveys to document outcomes from our work. In cases where the project scope spans a large number of communities, consider identifying a “regional agency” who can be the beneficiary for the collected set of constituent local governments.
How many projects per regional area will be awarded?
There is no set amount, as it depends on the time commitment of each project. We do have a statewide goal to complete projects with 96 local government agencies, so we will expect an average of 10-12 projects to be completed per region.
What is the value of CivicSpark services not covered by the local fiscal contribution?
Approximately $18/hr is provided through a combination of direct funding, education award, available food stamp benefits, and an in-kind value for the Encore Regional Coordinators’ time. This estimate does not include state contributions of in-kind support and services, nor does it include the value of other benefits such as loan interest forgiveness or free childcare for qualifying fellows.
Who provides funding for CivicSpark?
CivicSpark is an AmeriCorps program administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) through the California Commission – California Volunteers. Established in 1993, CNCS is a federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service through its core programs — Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and the Social Innovation Fund. AmeriCorps engages more than 80,000 Americans annually in intensive service at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country. Since the program’s founding in 1994, more than 800,000 AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 1 billion hours in service across America. California Volunteers is the state office that manages programs and initiatives aimed at increasing the number of Californians engaged in service and volunteering.
Does a participating local government have to pay the fiscal contribution?
No, it can come from a third party who is supporting the service project.
Can I use my CivicSpark team to apply for additional grants to pay for the match?
CivicSpark fellows are not allowed to work directly on grant writing or fundraising, as outlined by AmeriCorps regulations. CivicSpark fellows are able to help local agencies identify possible future funding sources, though, and work completed by CivicSpark fellows may be used to better prepare an agency to access existing funding sources.
If we don’t have funding in hand, do you have suggestions about how to fund the fiscal contribution?
CivicSpark is a great resource to leverage for outside funding. Because of its flexible design, there is an opportunity to focus the service on a suite of projects that align with available resources. For example, a regional foundation interested in supporting public health might support a vulnerability assessment. Local utilities might support a business energy audit project. If there is an open RFP for climate related work, CivicSpark could be built into responses as a supporting mechanism for completing the project. Specific funding sources that could work based on prior experience include; the Strategic Growth Council planning grants; Proposition 39 school energy assessment / planning; and IOU local government partnerships.
Can I use federal grant funds to pay for the fiscal contribution?
AmeriCorps has a policy of deferring to other federal agencies with regard to comingling of federal funds. If the funding agency approves the use of funds for AmeriCorps it is allowable.
How is the fiscal contribution paid?
The contribution is paid with a 10% as a deposit; then the remaining balance is due monthly.
How do I know I will get good value for this service?
With a strongly defined program structure that includes oversight by the Local Government Commission, direct supervision by Regional Coordinators, and clearly documented performance expectations, this program is designed to deliver local results. In a previous case, the PG&E-funded Small Cities Climate Action Partnership used a similar AmeriCorps based team to implement technical services for local governments. The “value” of that service (based on outcomes and services provided) was estimated to be equivalent to private-consulting services that can cost upwards of $100/hour.
Does the fiscal contribution directly go to the CivicSpark fellow?
No, it is a contribution to the whole program that is also bringing in resources from the federal government to support the whole program operations.
Does a participating local government have to provide workers compensation or liability insurance?
No, CivicSpark fellows are covered by the Local Government Commission’s insurance.