Welcome to CivicSpark!

Welcome to the 2020-21 CivicSpark Service Year!

We’re so excited to have you join CivicSpark’s Seventh Fellow Cohort this Fall! This webpage is intended to provide you with instructions on next steps once you have accepted a position into the program. There are 7 topics, each of which has important information to review.

1. START DATE & ORIENTATION

Fellows will begin the 2020-21 Service Year on Tuesday, September 1st with both the CivicSpark Program Orientation, and they may also begin serving with their partner that same day (depending on the partner). CivicSpark’s Orientation will go on throughout the whole month of September, with content and trainings shared online and a mix of pre-recorded on demand sessions that will need to be completed weekly, as well as live group gatherings. During this time, Fellows will learn more about CivicSpark, connect with staff and other Fellows, and learn about their projects.

Depending on the current county guidelines for reopening, some Fellows may be able to begin service at their service site on the first day (September 1st), while others may begin serving remotely and transition in later. The specific information for your site should be given to you by your project partner soon. See more information about remote service in section 5.

More detailed information, including a final schedule, will be sent in the coming weeks before Orientation.

2. CONTRACT AND NEW HIRE PAPERWORK

CivicSpark requires applicants to submit multiple forms as part of the hiring process, including a Fellow contract. You should have received the contract via an email link already. Please be sure to sign as soon as possible after accepting the offer.

You will also need to download the Fellow New Hire Paperwork and read through the instructions document carefully to ensure you complete all the documents correctly and submit them on time. All forms will be submitted electronically. Please upload all documentation to this DropBox link (also found in the instructions document). 

We recommend downloading a free scanner app onto your phone for any printed items so it’s easier to scan as a PDF and upload. A few we’ve personally used are Genius Scan, and Tiny Little Scanner.

Info: We’ll need your information, particularly your I-9, uploaded into Dropbox before we can begin the process for one of the background checks (as mentioned below). Apart from this documentation, we will also complete an E-Verify request for all Fellows at the start of the service year. There is nothing you need to do on your end for this.

3. BACKGROUND CHECKS

All Fellows MUST clear all background checks prior to beginning any service work with CivicSpark, including attending Orientation or beginning their project. Checks will be done through two vendors – Fieldprint (they conduct FBI checks) and Truescreen (they conduct state and National Sex Offender Public Registry checks). You will need to create online accounts for both.

Fieldprint checks require you to make an appointment to go in-person to get your fingerprints taken, but the Truescreen checks can be done relatively quickly online. For Fieldprint, the appointment availability will vary by where you are located – due to COVID, some sites may have a long waiting list or are closed, so be sure to look for availability as soon as possible. Please let us know ASAP if you are unable to schedule an appointment before mid-August in a location near you.

To begin the process:

  • Carefully review the instructions on how to create accounts for Fieldprint and Truescreen and begin the process for each.
  • Create your Fieldprint account and schedule an appointment ASAP to have your fingerprints taken.
  • Once you’ve uploaded your I-9 and other new hire paperwork, we’ll use the information there to send you an email via Truescreen to begin the Truescreen process (Truescreen does not require an appointment or fingerprints).

If you have any questions or issues as you go through this process, please contact us at cshr@civicspark.lgc.org.

**Fellows CANNOT log hours or receive any benefits until ALL background check results have been received by LGC and cleared. If you do not clear your checks, you will be notified immediately; if you do not hear from us, then you’re all set! Full clearance of checks usually happens around 1-2 weeks after you’ve submitted your final check.

Please do NOT use any other background check processes on your own outside of those mentioned above – the checks we use are specific to the requirements of AmeriCorps.**

4. FELLOW INFORMATION

At the start of the year, Fellows are given some gear and we share out information about Fellows on our website. Use this link to complete a Google Form where you will submit the following information:

  • Fellow bio and headshot
  • Jacket and T-shirt Size

Please submit your response by August 26th.

5. POTENTIAL FOR REMOTE SERVICE 

As you may know, there is the chance that you may be serving remotely for part or most of your service year. Please be sure to reach out to your partner to discuss their plans and needs, and keep us informed about your schedule and set-up.

If you are interested in serving from out of state, please see below:

Your partner may be fine with you serving remotely from outside California; however, there are implications on the admin side and possible challenges around things like health care, taxes, etc. depending on the state. There are considerations on the program side we’ll want you to think about as well before finalizing any potential plans, such as:

  • You may not have a chance to relocate later to California depending on state guidelines relating to COVID (if that was a goal of yours in applying to CivicSpark).
  • If California opens back up and we are able to hold some events like mid-year gather or graduation in person, but you are remote, we will not be able to provide transportation or reimbursement for you to attend.
  • On the professional development side, deciding to stay out of state may limit your ability to build a community here, which will impact your network growth.
  • No matter what state you are in, you will need to set a schedule that aligns with both the program and project schedules in California time.

If after considering the above, you speak to your partner and they welcome the idea of you serving remote, please email Ariadna Hernandez (ahernandez@lgc.org) right away after your discussion with your partner so we can confirm details on the program end before approving. You should include in the email the state you are planning on serving from, the address, what you have discussed with your partner about schedule, etc., and your specific timeline (if any) for potentially moving to California later on in the year.

Final approval of remote service will be determined by the program once we learn more about each state’s regulations and other employment requirements.

6. FELLOW CONNECTIONS & HOUSING BOARD 

CivicSpark has created a CivicSpark Fellow Housing Board that incoming Fellows can use to connect and/or find housing in their region (if needed). If you will be serving remotely, you can use the board to connect with other Fellows 🙂

The first tab is for folks who are looking to either find housing or connect with folks to room together; the second tab is for those who know of a specific room for rent or have a room to rent; and the third tab is for more general housing leads/info, or if current Fellows and CivicSpark alumni are available to assist/talk with incoming Fellows about regional housing opportunities. The AmeriCorps Housing Facebook Group is another great resource open to all California AmeriCorps Members looking for housing and roommates, or for posting leads and specific rooms for rent.

We’ve also recently created a LinkedIn Group named “CivicSpark Fellows 20-21”. Please search this on LinkedIn and request to join. You will need a LinkedIn profile to join, so please feel free to create an account if you don’t already have one. This space will be Fellow driven, and more of an informal group for you all to connect outside of emails and webinars, so we encourage you to make the space yours – create polls, ask questions, share resources, chat, the possibilities are endless! Although this group is a standard group, please do not invite others to join. This group is solely intended for those in this cohort year.

7. BENEFITS

Closer to the start of the service year, we will share information regarding signing up for health care and childcare, and applying to CalFresh.

During Orientation, we will cover the process for initiating loan forbearance, and other benefits.

8. QUESTIONS & NEXT STEPS

If you have any questions about the new hire paperwork and/or background checks, please contact us at cshr@civicspark.lgc.org.

Your Regional Coordinator (CC’d on your offer) will reach out to you soon to connect and answer any questions before the start of the service year.

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