**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.**
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. Since the program’s founding in 1994, over 1 million AmeriCorps Members have contributed more than 1.4 billion hours of service to their communities. CivicSpark Fellows are 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 on AmeriCorps, visit www.nationalservice.gov.
All AmeriCorps programs have Members who serve and dedicate their time to improving the community they are placed with by addressing a specific need. Members, including CivicSpark Fellows, participate in Service Days, such as MLK Jr. Service Day, Cesar Chavez Service Day, and AmeriCorps Week, in which they volunteer their time and give back to their community in different ways. All AmeriCorps Members gain hands-on experience in their program’s field, and receive professional development training opportunities.
Through CivicSpark, Fellows have the opportunity to work with local governments to better serve their community’s needs, as well as gain on-the-job training and hands-on experience in their field.
No, this is a full-time, 11 month Fellowship program. All Fellows must have at least a 4-year undergraduate degree (i.e. a Bachelor’s) to participate in the program. Fellows receive ongoing training during the program and deliver meaningful, high quality work for the public agency 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 only has projects within the state of California. Fellows who join the program will need to be in California at their service site for the full 11 months of the service year.
Our projects are spread throughout several regions, which include the 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 city, county, and placement sites vary from year to year depending on projects.
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.
For the 2020-21 service year, 90 Fellows will be selected.
Fellows serve for an 11-month period of time, and must complete a minimum of 1700 hours during that time period (equivalent to working an average of 40 hours/week). Fellows will serve full-time, with 12 holidays and 40 hours of personal and/or sick time. The 2020-21 service year will begin early September 2020 and will end late July 2021.
CivicSpark does not offer part-time positions. Fellows within the program will serve full-time for the 11 months, averaging between 38-42 hours per week in order to complete the 1700 hour commitment.
You can apply via our 2020-21 service year Fellow application. Our late Fellow application deadline was May 30, 2020. After this deadline, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis; due to the large amount of applicants we’ve received thus far and the number of spots available, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to take into consideration every application post May 30th. As projects begin to fill, we may reach out to applicants who have specific skills or interests based on projects.
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 a Bachelor’s degree or higher can apply to the program. Please see sections “C” and “D” of the Corporation for National and Community Service’s regulations as to what documents are needed by AmeriCorps programs to establish legal status.
At this time, we are unfortunately unable to 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 is 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/.
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’s criteria. Early applicants will begin the 2nd round interview process in early April 2020, which is around the time we will open the regular application. This allows early applicants to go through the application process sooner and be able to be selected earlier on by project partners.
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, if you are accepted into the program, you will need to move to California to take part in CivicSpark. This will still be the case even if we begin the program with Fellows teleserving (working from home); as we do not know how long it will be before folks can return to office settings, Fellows will be expected to within California at the start of the service year, even if they are from out of state.
At this time, CivicSpark does not provide any assistance in relocating other than connecting new Fellows with each other and alumni to potentially help find housing through an internal housing board.
Due to the volume of applications we receive, and in order to review the applications as fairly as possible, we ask that all resumes be no longer than a single page, submitted as PDFs.
[First Round] Once your application is submitted through the CivicSpark website, it will be reviewed by LGC staff. If you fit our basic qualifications, you will be contacted via email for an initial 15-20 minute interview; this typically happens 3-4 weeks after we receive your application.
[Second Round] After the initial call, candidates who move forward will be asked to join a second round interview, in which you will discuss your project interests and fit. Second round interviews began early April 2020 (for priority applicants) and will be 30-45 minutes long, via video call.
[Third Round] For candidates who pass through the second round, their application will be shared with project partners based on the candidate’s project interests and applicable skills. The Project Partners will then review the pool of candidates, select the ones who meet their criteria, and schedule interviews with those candidates. After the Project Partner selects their top choice (or choices if more than one Fellow will be serving on a project), CivicSpark staff will send an offer to the selected candidate(s) via email. Candidates will have 72 hours to accept or reject offers, but keep in mind that you will likely not be made an offer by each project partner you interview with.
Depending on the project and/or region, 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. The first offers have begun to be sent out late May 2020.
More specifics on the timeline can be found on the Become a Fellow page.
Candidates can select their regions of interest in the Fellow application. During second 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.
Projects for the upcoming 2020-21 year can can be found here. Projects are grouped by region.
This list is not complete; we are still approving projects, and as COVID impacts continue to be seen at the local level, some approved projects may not be able to continue depending on funding. Be sure to keep an eye on the project page for updates.
For folks who apply by the May 30th deadline, we will review applications as they come, and will contact candidates who we believe are potential fits to the program for an initial interview about 3-4 weeks after we receive their application. If you move on in the process, you will become part of a pool of applicants who will begin 2nd round interviews early June 2020. Viable candidates will then be sent to 3rd round interviews with project partners.
Program offers will likely begin to be made late May for strong candidates who applied before the priority deadline (March 29th), and we will continue going down the list of candidates per deadline. The application and interview process will continue until all 90 positions are filled.
If you are chosen to be a CivicSpark Fellow for the 2020-21 service year, there will be several background checks that will need to be completed before you can begin logging service hours: 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 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.
The 2020-21 service year is 11 months long – it will begin September 1, 2020 and end late July 2021.
Given the COVID situation, Orientation will be virtual this year. We will be updating this section with more details as we continue the planning process in May. Overall, Orientation will allow folks to learn about various components of the program, its structure, policies and expectations, and receive basic training on various resilience issues.
Fellows will begin their service within their projects the week of September 7, 2020 – a week after Orientation.
Fellows are 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. Most Fellows have a typical office schedule, serving from Monday-Friday, 8 am – 5 pm; however, each office is slightly different, so these days and times may vary slightly.
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.
Site Supervisors are staff members of the local government agency 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.
CivicSpark Regional Coordinators (RCs) are CivicSpark 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 regional team, with other 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.
While it is fairly uncommon for Fellows to serve on more than one project, there may be 1-2 per year. In that case, Fellows will typically serve on these projects simultaneously over the course of the service year. Fellows will receive support from their Regional Coordinator and Site Supervisors to ensure the successful completion of their projects within the 11 months.
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.
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, 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 CivicSpark.
At this time, the likelihood of large Fellow gatherings is small, and will not be our typical large events. We will keep folks posted via our COVID FAQ page as we have more updates.
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.
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. All CivicSpark Fellows are AmeriCorps Members, and should leave the service year with an understanding of work within local governments, experience working with key 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:
- $20,000 Living Allowance (before taxes), spread evenly over 11 months
- Segal Education Award of $6,195 at the completion of service
- Forbearance on existing qualifying student loans and payment of interest accrued during service
- Health Insurance
- Childcare 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 project field
The Segal Education Award is given to Fellows upon the successful completion of their service year. For the 2020-21 service year, the amount is $6,195 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 originally intended only for 2019-20 Fellows through the Governor’s state budget, which was meant to invest in the power of service as part of his vision to help realize a “California For All” by addressing critical community needs through people power. At this time, we are not expecting there to be a CFA Ed Award for the upcoming year, but will update this if anything changes.
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 sectors, while the other will be an interactive, regional training focused on soft skills needed for professional development, including 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 Lead and other Fellows. Fellows may also have training opportunities through their project and host agency.
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 trainings, and provide general support for the Fellows throughout the year. LGC staff is also available to assist Fellows whenever they have questions.
No, CivicSpark does not provide housing or relocation assistance for Fellows; however, we have a housing board to make it easier for Fellows to connect with one another before the service year so they can find housing together or learn about housing opportunities within the region they’ll be placed in from previous/current Fellows.
Yes, Fellows are allowed up to 40 hours of time off (vacation/sick time) throughout the service year. Fellows will be required to request approval for (vacation) time off from both their Site Supervisor(s) and Regional Coordinator. Fellows will also have 12 paid holidays throughout the year.
Through exposure to networking events that the majority of Fellows receive during the service year, Fellows will hopefully have a range of options and connections by the time the service year is over. Through the CivicSpark listserv, LGC staff also send out job opportunities towards to Fellows at the end of the service year, and as alumni, they can continue to use this listserv as a resource for job search.
If you’d like to learn more about CivicSpark, we encourage you 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 on our Fellow page.
If you have other questions, please contact us at email@example.com.