Fellow FAQs

About

What is AmeriCorps?
How is this program similar to other AmeriCorps programs?
Is this program an internship?
Where is this program located?
What does a CivicSpark Fellow’s service work consist of?
How many Fellows are selected for the program?
What is the time commitment for being a CivicSpark Fellow?
Can Fellows serve in the program part-time?
How often do Fellows have the opportunity to interact with the entire cohort and Fellows within their region?
What is AmeriCorps?

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.

How is this program similar to other AmeriCorps programs?

All AmeriCorps programs have Members who 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.

Is this program an internship?

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.

Where is this program located?

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.

What does a CivicSpark Fellow’s service work consist of?

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.

Example Projects:

  • 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.”

  1. 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.
  2. Service Projects: Conduct a specific research, planning, or implementation project.
  3. Volunteer Engagement: Support increased volunteerism in the community.
  4. 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.

How many Fellows are selected for the program?

For the 2020-21 service year, 90 Fellows will be selected.

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 (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.

Can Fellows serve in the program part-time?

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.

How often do Fellows have the opportunity to interact with the entire cohort and Fellows within their region?

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.

Application Process

How do I apply to CivicSpark?
Who can apply to the program?
I do not currently live in California. Can I still apply?
Can my resume be longer than 1 page?
When are Fellow applications due, and when will offers be made?
What are the benefits of applying by the first priority deadline?
What will the interview process look like / what is the timeline for interviews?
Can I pick the project/region where I am placed?
What does the background check process consist of?
What are the top qualities you look for in an applicant?
What is the timeline between applying to the program and being offered a position?
How do I apply to CivicSpark?

The 2020-21 service year application opens November 11, 2019. The priority deadline is February 29, 2020.

Please do not send any resumes or cover letters via email; we will only accept applications submitted via our website.

Who can apply to the program?

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/.

I do not currently live in California. Can I still apply?

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.

Can my resume be longer than 1 page?

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.

When are Fellow applications due, and when will offers be made?

The 2020-21 service year application opens November 11, 2019, with the priority deadline set for February 29, 2020.

If you move on in the process, you will be contacted for an initial interview about 3 weeks after we receive your application. Second round interviews will begin in early April 2020. Program offers will likely begin to be made mid-May for applicants who applied before the priority deadline. The application and interview process will continue until all 90 positions are filled.

What are the benefits of applying by the first priority deadline?

We encourage applicants to apply as soon as possible (before the first priority deadline) as preference is given to those who apply by then and we can begin interviews sooner.

CivicSpark’s first priority deadline is set for February 29, 2020. Candidates who apply by this time will be the first to be contacted and to go through the interview process if they fit CivicSpark’s criteria.

What will the interview process look like / what is the timeline for interviews?

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 2-3 weeks after we receive your application.

After the screening call, candidates who are selected to move forward will be emailed to schedule a second, more detailed interview that will be 30-45 minutes; for folks who apply during the priority period, second round interviews will begin early April. If you are selected to continue on in the process after this second interview, your application will be sent to the project partners/agencies who you are interested in serving with.

For candidates who apply after the priority deadline, the interview process will begin later.

Can I pick the project/region where I am placed?

Candidates can select their regions of choice within the Fellow application. During interviews, candidates will have the opportunity to let CivicSpark staff know the projects they are most interested in being placed with. If candidates are moved on to third round interviews, their application will be sent to their project(s) of choice; the staff at that agency will then review the applicants and select those who they’d like to interview. While you will have the opportunity to share what your interests are and the public agency you would like to work with, ultimately, the public agency/local government will be the one to select the Fellow to serve with their project. After the project partner selects their top choice(s), CivicSpark staff will send an offer to the selected candidate(s). Candidates will have 48 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 options available.

What does the background check process consist of?

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), which consists an appointment to be fingerprinted; 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 Fellows 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.

What are the top qualities you look for in an applicant?

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.

What is the timeline between applying to the program and being offered a position?

Applicants can expect it to take about 2-3 months from the time of application to having a position offered with the program if they are selected from our pool of candidates.

Service Year

When does the 2019-20 CivicSpark service year start and end?
When is Orientation and what does it consist of?
Is there a list of projects by region?
When do Fellows begin service on their projects?
Where are Fellows placed during the service year?
What type of hours do Fellows typically work?
What is the volunteer engagement component of the program? And what are some examples of volunteer projects that Fellows have done in the past?
What is the difference between a Site Supervisor and Regional Coordinator?
For Fellows serving on two or more projects, how is their time split?
For Fellows serving in teams of 2-3, how are tasks split?
If I am selected as a CivicSpark Fellow, can I still have another job?/ Are Fellows allowed to work a second job?
When does the 2019-20 CivicSpark service year start and end?

The 2019-20 service year is 11 months long. It will begin with a week-long Orientation in Sacramento early September 2019 and will end late July 2020.

When is Orientation and what does it consist of?

Orientation is a week-long event that took September 3-7, 2019 in Coloma, CA, with all 90 Fellows and CivicSpark/LGC staff. You will learn about various components of the program, its structure, policies and expectations, and receive basic training on various resilience issues. You will also have the opportunity to meet all of the Fellows, connect with your regional cohort and Regional Coordinator, and meet all the CivicSpark staff!

Is there a list of projects by region?

Projects for the 2019-20 service year can can be found here. The list of projects for the 2020-21 projects will be on the website starting end of March 2020.

When do Fellows begin service on their projects?

Fellows begin their first day of service with their projects September 10, 2019.

Where are Fellows placed during the service year?

Our goal is to embed Fellows within the local government/public agency that they will be serving with. Fellows will be placed within their partner agency’s office, 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 dates and times may vary slightly.

What type of hours do Fellows typically work?

Most Fellows have 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.

What is the volunteer engagement component of the program? And what are some examples of volunteer projects that Fellows have done in the past?

Fellows are in charge of coming up with 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.

What is the difference between a Site Supervisor and Regional Coordinator?

Site Supervisors are staff members of the 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) support the teams of Fellows in a given geographic area by providing guidance to Fellows and assisting them in their broader professional development goals. They provide trainings for their Fellows, and can assist with programmatic questions.

For Fellows serving on two or more projects, how is their time split?

Fellows serving on two or more projects 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.

For Fellows serving in teams of 2-3, how are tasks split?

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.

If I am selected as a CivicSpark Fellow, can I still have another job?/ Are Fellows allowed to work a second 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, 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.

Program Benefits

What are the benefits of the program?
What is the Segal Education Award?
What types of trainings do Fellows have throughout the year?
Do Fellows receive any type of mentorship?
Is there housing provided through the program/assistance with relocation expenses?
Can Fellows take time off during the service year?
Does CivicSpark assist with job opportunities?
Who do I contact if I have any questions not answered in this FAQ?
What are the benefits of the program?

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
What is the Segal Education Award?

The Segal Education Award is given to Fellows upon the successful completion of their service year. For the 2019-20 service year, the amount is $6,095 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 fellowship. 

What types of trainings do Fellows have throughout the year?

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.

Do Fellows receive any type of mentorship?

Yes, Fellows will receive mentorship from LGC staff and project partners at various levels. Site Supervisors will assist the Fellows with their project and any other project specific questions Fellows may have, as well as mentor them in their field. The Regional Coordinators will assist in professional development and provide general support for the Fellows throughout the year. LGC staff is also available to assist Fellows whenever they have questions.

Is there housing provided through the program/assistance with relocation expenses?

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.

Can Fellows take time off during the service year?

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.

Does CivicSpark assist with job opportunities?

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.

Who do I contact if I have any questions not answered in this FAQ?

If you have any other questions, we encourage you to view the recording of our Fellow Informational Webinar to learn more about the program, the application and interview process.  You can find the link on our Fellow page.

If you have other questions, please contact us at info@civicspark.lgc.org.

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