Make a Difference Working With AmeriCorps
AmeriCorps is often called "the domestic Peace Corps." Both are committed to service and offer rewarding full-time opportunities. AmeriCorps is comprised of three very different programs and volunteers should carefully read each description before making a decision to join. One of the great benefits of being an AmeriCorps volunteer is that they offer students an opportunity to make money to pay for college or to help pay off student loans after graduation. The usual commitment ranges from 9 to 12 months, though shorter summer opportunities exist. You are trained at the start of service and receive project-specific training during the course of your work.
AmeriCorps is comprised of a national network of hundreds of programs across the country. AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps NCCC are managed nationally. The third, AmeriCorps State and National, fund local and national organizations across the U.S. to recruit AmeriCorps members.
Some programs require specific types of skills, others ask for a bachelor's degree or a couple years of related experience, and for some, ambition and commitment are the only requirements. Here's a rundown of the three programs:
AmeriCorps State and National: AmeriCorps State and National support various local programs that disperse thousands of people to meet essential community needs covering health, public safety, education and the environment. Grants are given to a range of local and national organizations who in turn to recruit, hire and oversee AmeriCorps members around the country.
AmeriCorps VISTA: AmeriCorps VISTA dispatches full-time workers to community organizations and public agencies. Ther mission is to develop programs that help low-income individuals and communities rise out of poverty with a focus on local solutions.
AmeriCorps NCCC: AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is a full-time residential program for people ages 18-24 with assignments in five cities: Denver, Sacramento, Baltimore, Vicksburg (MS) and Vinton (IA). The goal is to strengthen communities and create leaders through community service. The program partners with non-profits as well as non-profits local, state and federal governments, national and state parks, schools, and Indian tribes.
Go to the My AmeriCorps and select '"Search Listings" to look for openings around the country. There are a variety of filters to help you target your search including "summer" if you want a short-term project. As of 2017, there are 210 summer assignments available across the U.S., from camps and museums to public libraries and more.
The time commitment varies depending on the needs of the program. While many commitments are full-time, part-time opportunities exist and summer programs run for about three months.
To be eligible for AmeriCorps State and National and AmeriCorps NCCC, you must be at least 17 years old or 16 and out of school. For AmeriCorps VISTA, you must be older than 18; there is no maximum age.
If you work full-time for AmeriCorps, you'll earn a modest allowance for living and health care. Part-time positions may or may not offer a living allowance.