Wander Into –

A Collection of Journeys

Common AmeriCorps Terms, Acronyms, and Questions January 2, 2013

The AmeriCorps culture is full of acronyms and terms that I may sometimes use in my posts. Hope this page helps describe them a little better!

AmeriCorps VISTA: AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (http://www.americorps.gov/about/programs/vista.asp) A national service program for any age. This program was started under the John F. Kennedy administration. The goal of the program is to end the cycle of poverty through a year of commitment to an organization. VISTA members work to build capacity and sustainable programs at the non-profit at which they serve. I served at the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester in Southern New Hampshire from Aug. 2011 to Aug. 2012 as a VISTA. Please message me if you have any interest in this program.

AmeriCorps NCCC: AmeriCorpsNational Civilian Community Corps (http://www.americorps.gov/about/programs/nccc.asp) A national service program for 18 to 24 year-olds. This program is a team based, residential program. Members work on teams of about 10 at non-profits in their region to do direct service for a period of 6-8 weeks there. It is a 10 month commitment. I served the Pacific Region (California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, Hawaii, the Pacific Territories) from Oct. 2012 to July 2013.

CTI: Corps Training Institute. A period of about a month at the beginning of their commitment, during which time AmeriCorps NCCC members go through trainings to prepare them for projects.

Spike: Also know as projects. AmeriCorps NCCC members often say they’re going on “spike”. This is the same as saying they’re “on project”. It is simply the term used for the 6-8 week period they will be traveling and serving an organization.

ISP: Independent Service Project. Each AmeriCorps NCCC member is required to complete at least 80 hours of service unrelated to the organization they are serving on project. ISPs are set up by Corps Members instead of the greater organization of AmeriCorps.

Are there other AmeriCorps programs?

You bet. I was involved in 2 of the 3 factions (NCCC and VISTA), however there is a third category entitled State & National. All are under the AmeriCorps umbrella, which in turn, is run by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) – a government funded entity. Much like VISTA, members live and serve with 1 organization for a year and must provide their own housing, transportation, and food. Unlike VISTA, these members focus on direct service. Popular State/National programs are City Year and Teach for America.

What did you do while in AmeriCorps?

My first year I acted as a Race Director for The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester. It was a major fundraising effort for their charitable care fund. I also assisted with their In SHAPE program, which helps clients of MHCGM pursue healthy lifestyle choices in terms of nutrition, exercise, and hygiene. My second year was spent in the following places:

Sly Park Outdoor Education Center, Pollock Pines, CA (acting as cabin leaders)

Hurricane Sandy Relief with VOAD of Bergen County and Rebuilding Together, Moonachie & Little Ferry, NJ (insulating the underside of mobile homes)

Camp Stevens, Julian, CA (fire mitigation)

Mountains to Sound Greenway, Greater Seattle area, WA (trailwork)

Reading Partners, Oakland, CA (curriculum building)

Is this a job?

AmeriCorps is often described as the domestic version of Peace Corps. So, in terms of that definition, I’ll let you decide if this is a job or volunteer work. Officially, we are a “National Service Program”.

Do you get paid by AmeriCorps?

The simple answer is no. Members get a living stipend. The amount depends on which AmeriCorps program a person is serving in. VISTA gives a larger stipend because individuals are responsible for their own housing, transportation and food. VISTA sets their living stipend based on the poverty line in the area – point being to better connect to the low-income community in which we serve. AmeriCorps NCCC provides transportation, room and board, therefore, their living stipend is considerably less. Either way, it’s only enough money to really buy tooth paste and soap most of the time. If a term is successfully completed by a member (success is defined by completing the required 1700 service hours or completion of a project), the member will receive a $5,500 that can be used toward student loans or other education expenses.

Are you still in school?

I am not. I graduated from college in 2011 and decided AmeriCorps was a fantastic opportunity to give back. No, this is not an internship, I am not getting some sort of credit for it.

Other questions? Ask away!

Support National Service! Go to Service Nation to see how you can get involved.


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