**At this time, CivicSpark is planning to continue with our current 2020-21 service year timeline, but given such a fluid situation with COVID-19, plans may change. To learn more about our current plans, see our COVID-19 FAQ.**
About the Program
CivicSpark is a Governor’s Initiative AmeriCorps program that launched in 2014 to build capacity for local governments to address climate change. Since then, the program has evolved to address community resilience issues in general, including climate change, affordable housing, transportation equity, and others. Visit our Projects page to read more about past projects.
AmeriCorps is a national community service program created to address the needs of local communities. AmeriCorps engages 75,000 Members annually who complete intensive service to meet community needs in education, health, public safety, security, and the environment. For more information on AmeriCorps, visit www.nationalservice.gov. AmeriCorps was created to address community needs through service. AmeriCorps Members have the opportunity to make an impact in their community while gaining valuable career and life experience.
No, CivicSpark is a full-time Fellowship program. Fellows serve between 38-40 hours per week. Fellows receive ongoing training during the program and deliver meaningful, high-quality work for the public agency or organization they are placed with. In addition, Fellows are encouraged to seek out leadership roles during the year either in their service project work or in opportunities within the cohort.
The CivicSpark program is located in California.
Positions are spread throughout California in the following regions: Central Coast, San Joaquin Valley, Northern California (including Butte and Shasta counties), Greater Los Angeles (includes Inland Empire), San Diego, Sacramento and the Sierras, and San Francisco Bay Area. Specific cities, counties, and placement sites within the regions vary from year to year.
This year we will NOT allow out-of-state service. Fellows MUST reside within California by the start of the service term.
For the 2021-22 service year, 100 Fellows will be selected for CivicSpark.
CivicSpark is an AmeriCorps State and National program. To serve in AmeriCorps State and National or AmeriCorps NCCC, you must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or legal permanent resident alien of the United States.
If you do not meet these criteria, please visit AmeriCorps.gov to find related AmeriCorps VISTA programs you may be eligible for. To serve in AmeriCorps VISTA, you must have one of the following citizenship statuses: U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, Lawful Permanent Resident Aliens, or persons legally residing in a state that has the following legal residency classifications: refugee, asylum or asylee, temporary protected status or deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) status. Learn more on the AmeriCorps FAQ page.
The 2021-22 service year is 11 months long – it will begin September 13, 2021 and end mid August 2022.
CivicSpark Fellows provide capacity-building support to public agencies within the community resilience space through research, planning, and implementation of project activities. CivicSpark Fellows can serve on a wide range of initiatives, as long as there is a defined connection to a specific agency’s unmet community resilience needs, and the service can be completed by a Fellow within the service year.
- Educating community members about climate change.
- Benchmarking commercial building energy use.
- Conducting electric vehicle readiness planning.
- Inventorying greenhouse gas emissions.
- Researching general plan options to incorporate groundwater language.
- Updating drought contingency plans.
- Implementing water efficiency ordinances.
- Implementing a water incentive program.
- Developing community broadband roadmap (speed and access).
- Demonstrating advanced technology options for agriculture.
- Developing pilot programs for first mile, last mile programs, EV charging.
- Increasing community awareness and utilization of accessory dwelling unit (ADU) options.
For more sample projects visit our project page for current and past projects as well as a library of project concepts.
Regardless of the specific resiliency capacity building focus, Fellows provide this support through a 4-step “intervention.”
- Gap Assessments: Review documents and conduct interviews with local government staff to determine current needs. Fellows will work with their site supervisor to confirm the project scope.
- Service Projects: Conduct a specific research, planning, or implementation project.
- Volunteer Engagement: Support increased volunteerism in the community.
- Transitioning Expertise: Provide transitional training to staff and/or share results with key stakeholders in order to transfer knowledge and build action throughout the community.
Depending on the timeframe of public agency needs, a single project may include multiple stages of more than one activity type.
If you’d like to learn more about CivicSpark and Climate Action Corps, we encourage you to join one of our Fellow Informational Webinars to learn more about the program, the application and interview process. You can find the link to register here.
If you have other questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Application and Interview Process
Please do not send any resumes or cover letters via email; we will only accept applications submitted via our website.
Anyone who is a citizen, national, or lawful permanent resident of the United States who has an Associate’s degree or higher can apply to the program.
At this time, we, unfortunately, cannot accept anyone who is unable to provide documentation proving their status as a U.S. Citizen, U.S. National, or lawful permanent resident, including anyone with:
- An F1 or F2 student visa
- A J1 or J2 exchange visitor visa
- A G series visa (pertaining to international organizations)
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status
- (As a State and National AmeriCorps program, CivicSpark are under different regulations than AmeriCorps VISTA programs. If you’re interested in serving with AmeriCorps and are a DACA recipient, you can apply to serve with an AmeriCorps VISTA program.)
For a full list of eligibility requirements, please see: http://civicspark.lgc.org/join-civicspark/fellow/.
Serving on projects with local governments on a low living stipend can be difficult, so applicants who are optimistic, flexible and adaptable, resourceful, and self-motivated are strong candidates for the program. We also look for candidates who are service-oriented and really want to help the communities they will be serving.
Yes, CivicSpark accepts out-of-state applicants however all Fellows must live in California during the service term. Due to COVID, it is highly possible that some or much of the CivicSpark will take place remotely, depending on the reopening status of the service site a Fellow is placed with. If a Fellow is remote, they will serve from home using their own equipment for extended periods of time.
If your site is not going to be remote or only remote for a short period of time, a Fellow will need to live within commuting distance to their service site. At this time, CivicSpark does not provide assistance in relocating other than connecting new Fellows with each other and alumni to potentially help find housing through an internal housing board, but we are working to find other ways to support Fellows if they are planning on moving.
This year we will NOT allow out-of-state service. Fellows MUST relocate to California by the start of the service term.
- [First Round] Once your application is submitted through the CivicSpark website, it will be reviewed by program staff. If you fit our basic qualifications, you will be contacted via email for a one-on one 45 minute video interview with a member of staff.
- [Partner Round] Candidates who pass through the first round will be matched with project partners based on the candidate’s project interests, regional preferences and relevant skills. All of these will be taken into account, so you may be matched with a partner who you did not mention in your project interests if we see a potential fit.
- Once a minimum number of candidates have been matched with a particular project partner, CivicSpark staff will send over the batch of candidates for the partner to review. The project partners will then review the batch of candidates, select the candidates who meet their criteria, and schedule interviews with those candidates. When the project partner selects a candidate for their project, CivicSpark staff will send an offer to the selected candidate(s) via email. Candidates will have 72 hours to accept or reject offers.
- Candidates will likely not be made an offer by each project partner they interview with. It is possible to interview with multiple project partners and not be made an offer. If you are not offered a position with your top partners, your application will be returned to the general pool of candidates to find new partners to match you with. .
- Positions are filled on a rolling basis; therefore some projects may no longer be interviewing for Fellows at the time of your application. We strongly encourage anyone who’s interested to apply as soon as possible in order to have more
project options available.
Candidates who apply by the priority deadline will be the first to be contacted and to go through the interview process if they fit CivicSpark criteria. Priority round applicants will have the first chance to interview with project partners.
Candidates can select their regions of interest in the Fellow application. During first round interviews, candidates will have the opportunity to let CivicSpark staff know the projects they are most interested in being placed with.
While you will have the opportunity to share what your interests are and the projects would like to serve on, ultimately, the Project Partner will select the Fellow to serve with their project, and we may match you for interviews with a partner you did not mention you were interested in if we feel it is a potential fit.
- If you are chosen to be a CivicSpark Fellow for the 2021-22 service year, there will be several background checks that will need to be completed before you can begin service: a Fieldprint check (FBI), for which selected Fellows will need to make a fingerprint appointment; and a Truescreen check, which consists of a National Sex Offender Public Registry (NSOPR) and state check.
- All Fellows MUST complete and pass all 3 checks before they can take part in the CivicSpark and Climate Action Corps program, including attending Orientation, logging hours, and receiving their stipend. The Fellow’s start date and ability to log hours depends on their background check, as well as other factors.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: Depending on the state you’re from, setting appointments to be fingerprinted for the Fieldprint check may take some time. We encourage you to complete that check as soon as you can. We will send more information about this with offer packets to selected candidates
Serving as a Fellow
Fellows are typically placed within the local government/public agency office that they will be serving with, but they may also be placed within a non-profit or in another local office depending on space availability. Due to COVID, many Fellows will likely complete their service remotely this year, with a few exceptions.
The Service Year will begin with Orientation on September 13th. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, Orientation will likely be virtual this year. During Orientation, Fellows will learn about the various components of the program: its structure, policies and expectations, and receive basic training on resilience issues. There will also be the opportunity to connect with the other Fellows and get to know each other even while remote.
Following Orientation, Fellows will begin service at their sites. There may be additional onboarding with your Site Supervisor.
The Fellowship runs for an 11-month term where Fellows serve an average of 40 hours per week to complete a minimum of 1700 hours during the service term. Fellows are given 12 holidays and 80 hours of personal and/or sick time.
Most Fellows serve within an office during traditional work hours (typically 8am-5pm on weekdays) however this will depend on your project partner, as well as occasional after hours and weekends when necessary. Most Fellows will serve between 38 – 42 hours per week.
CivicSpark does not typically offer part-time positions (less than 40 hours per week/fewer than 11 months), but some part-time positions may arise if there are specific circumstances on the program end that would cause this to happen. If it does, we would reach out to candidates already in our pool of potential interviewees.
Site Supervisors are staff members of the local government agency/organization that Fellows are placed with, and will directly oversee their day-to-day project work and assist with any project-specific questions Fellows may have. Site Supervisors will also provide mentorship and guidance in their sector of work, as well as in the Fellow’s professional development.
Regional Coordinators (RCs) are program staff who support the teams of Fellows in a given geographic area by providing program guidance to Fellows and assisting them in their broader professional development goals. They provide trainings for their Fellows, and can assist with programmatic questions.
Fellows are in charge of planning and implementing a volunteer engagement project, in which they will plan a project, recruit volunteers, and implement the project to support their beneficiary. This can be done as a full regional team, with smaller groups of members of your region, or it can be done alone.
In previous years, Fellows have chosen to either assist their project sites with any volunteer events they are conducting, or assisting another organization of their choice. The volunteer engagement projects have ranged from assisting an urban agriculture non-profit in gleaning citrus fruit, to creating a collaborative to recruit volunteers to assist in landscape assessments to help reduce water use.
Project tasks are usually split between the Fellows themselves, usually depending on who is comfortable doing different aspects of the project. For example, if your project has a GIS component, anyone with GIS skills will likely be in charge of this task. Much of this is determined on a case-by-case basis with the Site Supervisor after the service year begins.
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 likely serve traditional hours (8am-5pm) for CivicSpark as well as occasional after hours and weekends when necessary. AmeriCorps service years are intensive programs, and we suggest you wait until your third month of service before taking on a second job so you have a better idea of your daily schedule and your time commitment to the program.
At this time, large in-person gatherings are not being planned. We are connecting virtually to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a typical year, all Fellows get together 3 times throughout the year; first, at a week-long Orientation at the start of the service year, again at Mid-Year Gathering, which is 3 days long in the middle of the service year, and lastly at Graduation for 2 days.
Within their region, Fellows typically meet at least once a month for professional development trainings and meetings, and may also get together with other regions for other events and opportunities, such as conferences and service days.
Fellows will receive about 2-3 trainings per month. One training will be a statewide training focused on technical topics and themes that cut across project sectors, while the other will be an interactive, regional training focused on soft skills needed for professional development, such as resume and cover letter development, interviewing, and avoiding burnout in the workplace. Depending on the sector the Fellow is serving within, they will also attend sector-specific calls to troubleshoot common issues and receive resources from the Sector Network Lead and other Fellows. Fellows may also have additional training opportunities through their project and host agency.
In addition to the staff-led trainings, Fellows can lead trainings and groups independently. For example, we have a virtual “ToastSpark” where a group of Fellows meet to practice public speaking, as well as a GIS club where Fellows learn technical skills together.
All Fellows should leave the service year with an understanding of work within local governments and/or organizations experience working with key tools, ability to analyze data, and ability to work successfully in a team environment.
In exchange for their service, each Fellow receives the following benefits:
- $22,000 Living Allowance (before taxes), spread evenly over 11 months
- Segal Education Award of $6,345 at the completion of service
- Forbearance on existing qualifying student loans and payment of interest accrued during service
- Health Insurance
- Child Care Assistance – (to qualifying Fellows), paid to an eligible provider of your choice
- SNAP (Food Stamps) – for those eligible
- Professional development training
- Network development with regional and statewide contacts in the community resilience industries
- Connection to the network of CivicSpark alum and AmeriCorps alums
The Segal Education Award is given to Fellows upon the successful completion of their service year. For the 2021-22 service year, the amount is $6,345 and it is meant to help the Fellow pay for educational expenses, such as loans, going to grad school, getting certificates, or for school supplies post-AmeriCorps. The award is not given to the Fellow as cash or a check; the Fellow must request that AmeriCorps make a payment to an eligible loan provider or school, and AmeriCorps will make payments directly to them on your behalf. The Segal Education Award must be used within 7 years of completing the program.
The California For All (CFA) Education Award was meant to invest in the power of service as part of Governor Newsom’s vision to help realize a “California For All” by addressing critical community needs through people power. With the CFA Award, Fellows’ total education awards would reach $10,000 (between the Segal and CFA). At this time, a plan is in place to have a CFA Award for the 2021-22 service year, but nothing has been confirmed. We will update this if anything changes.
Yes, Fellows are allowed up to 80 hours of personal time off (vacation/sick time) throughout the service year. Fellows will be required to request approval for time off from both their Site Supervisor(s) and Regional Coordinator. Fellows will also have 12 paid holidays throughout the year.
Yes, Fellows will receive mentorship from project partners and LGC staff at various levels. Site Supervisors will be the main mentor for the Fellow, assisting them with their project and any other project specific questions Fellows may have, as well as helping them grow professionally in the workspace. The Regional Coordinators will assist in some professional development through regular training sessions, and provide general support for the Fellows throughout the year. LGC staff is also available to assist Fellows whenever they have questions.
No, CivicSpark is not able to provide housing or relocation assistance for Fellows at this time. However, we have a housing board to make it easier for incoming Fellows to connect with one another before the service year to find housing together or learn about housing opportunities within the region they’ll be placed in from alumni and/or current Fellows.
CivicSpark provides assistance through our training curriculum such as resume workshops and mock interviews. Fellows can learn about job opportunities through the CivicSpark listserv, where LGC staff and CivicSpark alumni send out job opportunities on a regular basis, and as alumni, Fellows can continue to use this listserv as a resource for job search. Another way the program assists with job opportunities is through networking events that the majority of Fellows attend during the service year.