The fellows have been great to work with and I am confident they have great careers ahead of them. The work they are doing for us and the cities of the region is invaluable.
CivicSpark has been an invaluable resource to the County of Santa Barbara, and we’re still experiencing the benefits. Once our ECAP was adopted and the rubber hit the road, our CivicSpark Fellow was able to take on a crucial role in coordinating implementation, and monitoring and reporting.
Our CivicSpark fellows have brought a fresh perspective on how we engage the community in energy planning in the Sierra Nevada, and they are not short on ambition.
The projects our fellow is working on are important for the County’s success in designing and implementing climate action strategies. They are also significant components in broader thinking about long-term sustainability. Without our CivicSpark fellow, these significant pieces of work would be several years out for their completion.
The CivicSpark has been invaluable to the successful launch of our building energy transparency requirement…Collaboration of the CivicSpark Bay Area team has enriched our program through new perspectives and best practices from other cities. It has been a great experience for all involved.
Our CivicSpark members have been very active, enthusiastic, and engaged with our staff and have been a pleasure to work with. Their outreach work and communication has been wonderful.
This program is providing a lot of value for us. When we are required to address the climate action plans, it is a requirement we can’t implement. This is providing us some real action and support and we are seeing progress.
How CivicSpark Works
CivicSpark supports resiliency-focused research, planning, and implementation projects that benefit local public agencies in California. CivicSpark provides public agencies and other organizations with 11 months of quality capacity building support via highly motivated emerging leaders.
All CivicSpark Fellows are AmeriCorps Members selected through a highly competitive national application process. Fellows have at minimum a college degree in a relevant field, and typically have workplace and/or community service experience. CivicSpark Fellows are placed with partner organizations across the state (ideally in teams of two or more for Fellow experience and impact). Regional Coordinators locally and program staff in Sacramento support both Fellows and host Site Supervisors. Regional Coordinators provide partners with project-level engagement and coordinate Fellow professional development activities. CivicSpark program staff at LGC handle administrative duties and provide sector-specific expertise to both Fellows and partners.
Public agencies, State agencies, Native American Tribes, and Non-Profit Organizations can contract directly with LGC to host CivicSpark Fellows as long as the project work
- Meets a defined “resiliency capacity need.” CivicSpark defines capacity building as providing project support to increase effectiveness, efficiency, or scale/reach; and
- Is closely connected to a specific local public agency “beneficiary”. Beneficiaries can include counties, cities, towns, special districts, school districts, MPOs, COGs, JPAs, etc. who have a defined capacity need (see eligibility below), will“benefit” from the project’s implementation and can commit to completing a pre- and post-service capacity survey, and to participating in at least one project interview with the Fellow.
Note that the host or project partner does not have to be the “beneficiary.”
Visit Our Projects page to view a list of current and past CivicSpark projects. The Project Concept Repository is a searchable database that contains examples of successful CivicSpark projects and project ideas. Explore this database for ideas and recommendations about the type of work Fellows typically complete during the service year, and see some of the results of past Fellows’ projects.
All CivicSpark Fellows provide support to public agencies through 4 core activities:
2019-20 Service Year Calendar
CivicSpark is a federally-funded AmeriCorps program that uses national service to build local agency capacity to address emerging environmental and/or socio-economic issues. We must follow strict requirements on what partners we can work with and how we define our service to local public agencies.
- CivicSpark Fellows can be placed with public agencies, NGOs, or state agencies (i.e. have a Fellow placed under the direct supervision of) . CivicSpark Fellows cannot serve directly with a for-profit organization (however for-profit organizations can sponsor Fellows on a case-by-case basis).
- CivicSpark Fellows must serve eligible local public agency “beneficiaries” i.e, regardless of the project partner, the project scope must have a clearly defined connection to an eligible local public agency,or agencies). See eligibility criteria below.
- Project beneficiaries – the target recipient of service – can be local, county, or regional public agencies (e.g., cities, towns, special districts, school districts, MPOs, COGs, etc.) or Federally Recognized Tribes. State agencies, NGOs, and for-profit entities cannot serve as beneficiaries,however, a state agency or NGO can serve as a project partner and/or Fellow host site; just not the target – or “beneficiary” – of the service.
- Fellows must have a defined scope of work that aligns with our program mission, and that can be completed within the term of service.
- Partners must agree to follow all AmeriCorps requirements and prevent Fellows from participating in prohibited activities.
- Partners must ensure that target public agency “beneficiaries” provide required eligibility information and complete a pre- and post-service Capacity Assessment survey.
- Partners must describe how the proposed project activities will build new capacity for the project beneficiaries.
- Partners will be asked to provide information on geographical region, target audience, project focus, and project outputs.
CivicSpark has a robust support structure in which LGC staff work with project partners to coordinate the Fellowship experience.
- Site Supervisors provide direct project supervision for Fellows, with support from LGC program staff and Regional Coordinators. Site Supervisors provide overall Fellow supervision as well as some professional development support.
- Regional Coordinators provide program support andmember development training, and act as a local liaison to the partner.
- LGC program staff provide additional content expertise, support for partners, and training for Fellows.
- LGC administrative staff provide Fellow and Partner support with reporting requirements and other logistics.
Partners are responsible for securing at least one target local public agency “beneficiary” for each Fellow’s project work. Participating public agency beneficiaries must demonstrate a “capacity need,” measured by meeting at least one of the following criteria:
Significant communitywide burdens as demonstrated by any of the following indicators:
- CalEnviroScreen >33, or
- Distressed Community Index >50, or
- Unemployment above state average, or
- Regional Opportunity Index (People or Place) above state average; or
Absence of an adopted and up-to-date strategy (plan, element or other) that comprehensively addresses the target resiliency issue with appropriate funding, programs, and policies, to implement the strategy. Examples include but are not limited to:
- Climate Mitigation or Adaptation Plan
- Integrated Regional Water Management Plan
- Stormwater Resources Plan
- Groundwater Sustainability Plan
- Housing Needs Assessment
- Regional Transportation Plan; or
A defined resiliency capacity gap
as evidenced by at least 1 significant program, policy, or planning goal for a specific resiliency issue that has not been met, or cannot be met, without resource or system development assistance. Capacity gap should have defined targets such as:
- Success rates
- Quality of outcomes
- Resource deployment
- Services provided
- People reached
CivicSpark is funded in part by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), and in part by match-funding from our project partners. Participation in this program requires a fiscal contribution based on the amount and type of support provided by the CivicSpark program.
CivicSpark rates for project work are:
- All-inclusive (covers workers compensation, liability insurance, workplace costs, Fellow personnel benefits, job travel support, etc.);
- Covers both the CivicSpark Fellow and LGC staff support; and
- Based solely on costs for project work hours, not training time spent by the Fellow. (For additional information, please visit our FAQ page).
|Cost||Project Support Provided per Fellow||Additional Benefits per Fellow|
|$51,000 / 2 Fellows
$26,000 / 1 Fellow
|11 Months and
1,300+ project hours
|80 additional project-prep hours
100 volunteer engagement hours
Up to $400 in project-related travel
*This represents the general pricing structure and the floor for pricing, but some variations may exist depending on terms and conditions of specific placements.
*Applications for 2019-20 will open February 11, 2019.*
Step 1: Submit Online Project Application
Submit your application by the First Priority Deadline (March 15) to ensure the highest likelihood that your project will be accepted.
Project applications submitted by the Second Priority Deadline (May 3) may still receive support.
Depending on First Priority Deadline interest, we may not have as many options for accepting a proposed project. .
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis after the May 3 Second Priority deadline, but will be reviewed on a first come, first served basis.
A complete application includes the following:
- Contact information for both project lead and contracting lead;
- Concise project summary (including basic scope, desired capacity building outcomes, anticipated deliverables, and preferred Fellow skills);
- Local public agency beneficiaries (at least 1 per Fellow);
- Confirmation that you understand and agree to the program requirements.
You can download an overview of the application content to review the details and prepare your content offline:
We estimate it should take 30-45 minutes to complete the application form once you have developed your project concept.
Step 2: Application Review & Follow-Up
LGC will review project applications and schedule a call with your project lead contact to:
- Learn more about your needs;
- Confirm local public agency eligibility;
- Ensure there is a clear project scope that is suitable for an AmeriCorps Fellow,
- Determine if CivicSpark is a good fit for your capacity building needs.
The purpose of this step is to ensure your project will deliver results while also meeting our goals as an AmeriCorps program. LGC will then review and consider your project for approval based on our programmatic priorities.
Step 3: Project Approval & Contracting
Approved projects must complete a Service Agreement (contract). The Service Agreement outlines mutual roles and responsibilities between project partners and LGC, as well as payment terms. Service Agreements should be completed by September 6, 2019, to ensure Fellows can start in Mid September.
Step 4: Pre-Service Capacity Assessment
Local public agency beneficiaries must complete a Pre-Service Capacity Assessment survey prior to the start of service. This survey establishes baseline information about the agency’s capacity needs and goals. This information is used by Fellows to complete their Gap Assessments and to evaluate success after project completion. Capacity Assessments should be completed by September 6, 2019, to ensure Fellows have this key resource when they start in Mid-September.