Concept Paper Guidelines
Due: January 20, 2012
Concept Paper Guidelines
Volunteer West Virginia, the State’s Commission for National & Community
Service strengthens communities through service and volunteerism. It is appointed by the Governor to administer the AmeriCorps National Service Program, serve as a clearinghouse for volunteers, support nonprofits and develop leaders in West Virginia communities.
Thank you for your interest in an AmeriCorps*State grant. This packet contains information pertaining to the Concept Paper process for 2012-2013 AmeriCorps formula grants funded by Volunteer West Virginia, The State’s Commission for
National and Community Service through the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
; New Applicants must submit a concept paper in order to be eligible for the
formula application process.
; Eligible applicants include: nonprofit organizations in compliance with IRS
Section 501(c)(3) regulations (including religious organizations); schools;
institutions of higher education; state agencies; subdivisions of the state
including cities, counties, and municipalities; or a partnership or
collaboration of any of the above entities.
; Concept papers may be submitted electronically or in hardcopy form. The
concept paper must be received by the West Virginia Commission for
National and Community Service no later than 5:00 p.m. EST Friday,
January 20, 2012. Concept papers submitted by mail must be received
by that date, not postmarked by that date. Faxes will not be accepted.
The Commission’s mailing address is 710 Central Avenue, Charleston,
West Virginia 25302.
; Concept papers must be typed and double-spaced on 8 1/2" x 11" paper,
each copy stapled in the upper left-hand corner. Please do not submit
concept papers in folders, acetate covers, or other bindings. Concept
papers should be five pages or less, not including forms.
; Funding for 2012-2013 AmeriCorps national service grants is subject to
; For additional information, contact the West Virginia Commission for
National and Community Service at 1-(800) WV-HELPS.
; The following Technical Assistance calls are scheduled to help with the
concept paper process:
o November 18 1:00 p.m.
o December 13 1:00 p.m.
o January 11 1:00p.m.
Conference Access Number: 1-866-453-5550
PIN Code: 3730200#
AmeriCorps is a challenging federal program, but one that offers the potential for organizations to make big dreams a reality. If your agency has a cherished project idea that requires a lot of hands to accomplish, and you have the capacity to manage a large project, then AmeriCorps may be the key to realizing your vision. AmeriCorps achieves its goals by mobilizing people’s desire to give back to their
community. Every AmeriCorps project gets results that last beyond the life of the program.
Since 1994, AmeriCorps programs in West Virginia have tackled some of the state’s toughest problems: illiteracy; affordable housing; children’s health and education; and domestic violence among others. Measurable results have been achieved through these programs. Potential applicants are encouraged to contact current AmeriCorps program directors for more information on how to apply AmeriCorps resources to specific issue areas. Included in this packet is a list of organizations funded for the 2011-2012 program year.
Through AmeriCorps, Americans of all ages and backgrounds provide a year of community service in exchange for small living allowance during their term of service and/or an education award a granted upon completion. AmeriCorps*State is one of many national service programs funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency created under the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993. Under this same legislation, states were required to establish community service commissions to provide a coordinated response to national service programming in the state. As a result, the West Virginia Commission for National and Community Service was established in
1994. The Commission is responsible for funding AmeriCorps programs in the state and for overseeing the implementation and operation of these programs.
Funding for the West Virginia Commission is allotted by the Corporation for National and Community Service based on population. Using these formula funds, the West Virginia Commission makes operating grants available. These grants either support an organization that is ready to establish a new national service program or support, expand, or replicate an existing national service program.
Programs funded through formula dollars are unlikely to receive more than $133,000 in federal funding. The state Commission may require budget reductions in order to fit selected programs into the category and amount of funding available.
AmeriCorps Grants Process
TIMELINE FORMULA APPLICATION TIMELINE
November 18, 2011 1:00 p.m. Technical Assistance calls for Concept Papers.
December 13, 2011 1:00p.m. Call In Number & PIN for all calls listed:
January 11, 2012 1:00p.m. Call in number: 1-866-453-5550
Participant PIN 3730200#
January 20, 2012 Concept papers due by 5:00 pm at the WV
January 26, 2012 Review of concept paper
January 31, 2012 Send applicants targeted feedback on concept paper
January 25, 2012 10:00am Technical assistance calls to provide guidance and February 3, 2012 10:00am answer any questions regarding AmeriCorps
February 17, 2012 10:00am application.
March 1, 2012 Formula applications due in eGrants by 5:00 p.m.
March 12, 2012 Review feedback sent to Applicant
March 26, 2012 Applicant Submits Revised Application in eGrants
April 30, 2012 Send Peer Review Feedback to Applicant
June 1, 2012 Applicant Submits Final Application in eGrants
June 8, 2012 Commission Submits Formula Package to CNCS
July 2012 Award Notification
August 2012 Programs must start between August 1, 2012 and
October 1, 2012, and finish within 12 months.
“Getting things done” in communities. For more than fifteen years, the
Corporation—through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve
America programs—has helped to mobilize a new generation of engaged citizens. This year, more than 1.8 million individuals of all ages and backgrounds will serve with national and community non-profit organizations, faith-based groups, schools, and local agencies to meet needs in education, health, the environment, economic opportunity, veterans, disaster services, and other critical areas. Service activities must result in a specific, identifiable benefit or improvement that otherwise would not be provided with existing funds or volunteers, and that does not duplicate the routine functions of volunteers or displace paid employees.
Strengthening communities. Programs must strengthen communities, bringing
together both institutions and individuals to cooperate in effecting lasting and constructive change. This strengthening of communities is evidenced by community involvement in planning and implementation, the development of local partnerships, and the recruitment of volunteers.
Developing AmeriCorps members. Programs must help members develop,
through their service experience, the ethic and skills needed for productive, active citizenship. During the term of service, most AmeriCorps members receive a basic living allowance up to $12,100; full-time members are eligible for health care and possibly child care benefits. At the end of the term of service, members receive an education award of up to $5,550 that can be used for many kinds of education, or to pay back student loans. Programs must also provide members with the training and knowledge necessary to perform the task required in their respective projects.
Funding Priorities. The mission of the Corporation for National and Community Service (the Corporation) is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. In the FY 2012 competition, the Corporation’s funding priorities are projects that address compelling, unmet needs in one or a combination of the following six national service focus areas:
The Disaster Services Focus Area will help communities with disaster
mitigation, preparation, response and recovery.
The Education Focus Area will concentrate on improving academic
outcomes for young children, youth, and young adults, particularly those in
the lowest performing schools.
The Environmental Stewardship Focus Area will be directed toward the
protection of human health and the health of ecosystems by conserving
natural resources and restoring the nation’s air, water, and land.
The Healthy Futures Focus Area will meet health needs within
communities including access to care, aging in place, and addressing
The Economic Opportunity Focus Area will meet the needs of
economically vulnerable Americans, their families and their communities.
Veterans and Military Families
The Veterans and Military Families Focus Area will meet the needs of
veterans and family members of active duty and deployed military
The Commission encourages programs to develop issue area specialization instead of trying to meet all of the national issue areas.
Leveraging volunteers. The Commission will place a priority on programs that involve other community members as volunteers to assist them in service activities. This does not mean, however, that a program’s sole purpose must be to recruit and supervise volunteers.
Program focus and service ethic. The Commission believes that it is important for all programs to impart the service ethic to their members. Accordingly, the
Commission will not fund any programs that have job training rather than service as a major purpose.
The West Virginia Commission will prioritize those applications that integrate these program preferences. The Commission may consider other factors in selecting proposals for funding that contribute to the overall diversity of West Virginia’s AmeriCorps program. It should be emphasized that overall program quality will be the most important criterion for selection by the West Virginia Commission for National and Community Service.
Program Design. Applicants have a great deal of flexibility to design programs that will best achieve the goals listed above. This flexibility includes the ability to target individuals of a certain age or skill level as members; to involve appropriate partner organizations to train, supervise, or support members; and to place members individually in projects or organize them in teams. Programs may also determine whether a full-time or part-time schedule is more appropriate to the program’s goals.
Size. AmeriCorps is not designed for programs that may be looking for one or two placements to work on a particular project. Those interested in only one or two AmeriCorps members for direct service activities may also want to consider partnering with similar organizations and applying for more members as a coalition.
Programs must be large enough to achieve a demonstrable impact. In addition, experience has shown that programs with service activities at fewer sites involving groups of members rather than individually placed members have a greater impact on the community. Commission-funded programs in West Virginia range in size from 10 members to 500. In general, the Commission will not fund programs sponsoring fewer than 10 full-time members or their equivalent (e.g., 20 half-time members). The Commission’s experience with AmeriCorps programs in
West Virginia has demonstrated that coalition-style organizational structures are a way to place one or two AmeriCorps members in scattered sites but multiply their impact through a central office and unified objectives.
AMERICORPS MEMBERS TERM OF SERVICE
Programs may engage members on a full-time or part-time basis. Full-time members must serve at least 1,700 hours during a period of nine to twelve months, and those members receive an education award of $5,550.
Member Term Minimum # of Education Minimum Maximum
of Service hours required Award Living Living
Full time 1700 $5,550 $12,100 $24,200
Half time 900 $2,775 N/A $12,800
Reduced half 675 $2,114 N/A $9,600
Quarter time 450 $1,468 N/A $6,400
Minimum time 300 $1,175 N/A $4,300
The applicant has the flexibility to determine an appropriate service period for members but should limit the number of different categories proposed. Summer service (minimum time or quarter-time) is an option for programs; however, summer programs are expected to demonstrate marked results in a short amount of time.
Living allowance. All AmeriCorps programs must provide a living allowance for full-time members (at least $12,100 for 2012-2013). Programs are not required to provide living allowances to part-time members, but can if they wish to, subject to the maximum amounts above.
Education awards. AmeriCorps members will receive an education award from the National Service Trust upon completion of their term of service. Full-time members will receive an award of $5,550, and part-time members will receive the amounts indicated in the chart above.
Health care. Grantees must provide full-time members with a health care policy. Part-time members serving in a full-time capacity may also qualify for health care. The Commission can provide information on health care providers familiar with AmeriCorps requirements.
Child care. Full-time members meeting state or federal income guidelines will be eligible for child care assistance through a Corporation-sponsored program. Budget Requirements
All programs that receive Commission support for AmeriCorps activities are required to comply with the following budget and grant requirements: Program costs. Requested funds may not exceed 76 percent of the program’s
total costs. The grantee’s share of the total costs is 24 percent and may be in the
form of cash or in-kind contributions. Please note that additional match requirements will be imposed in future years of funding in an effort to lead programs toward sustainability.
The applicant should carefully consider each line item on the attached budget. Based on experience, the Commission recommends that a full-time staff member be allocated to serve as program director. Also, given the emphasis on results, the Commission expects that each program will devote resources to a thorough internal or external evaluation of progress toward objectives.
Cost per member. Cost per member is arrived at by dividing the total
Commission funding request by the number of full-time-equivalent AmeriCorps members in the program (e.g., 20 half-time members equal 10 full-time). The Commission is committed to reducing its overall average cost per AmeriCorps member. In order to do so, the state Commission must ensure that the average cost per member across all programs does not exceed $13,300. No program may propose a federal share that exceeds $13,300 per member. Please note that the $13,300 cost per member may be reduced due to Congressional directives and funding constraints.
Organizational capacity. AmeriCorps is a demanding grant, subject to a number of federal regulations. In addition to the challenges of frequent reporting, member management, and stringent evaluation, AmeriCorps programs must also have the financial and administrative capacity to match and manage the grant within the fiscal constraints dictated by the Office of Management and Budget. Organizations not familiar with the A-133 audit should consult the OMB circular for more information.
A concept paper should consist of the four components listed below. Do not
submit any supporting materials at this time.
1. Cover Page
On one page, list the following information:
; Proposed project title
; Name and address of applicant organization
; Type of applicant (nonprofit, government, etc.)
; Contact person and telephone number
; Issue area(s) to be addressed
; Geographic area to be served (list specific counties)
; Number of AmeriCorps members requested: full-time, halftime, reduced
half-time, quarter-time, and/or minimum time (include minimum number of
hours of service for each category)
; Amount of funds requested and total project budget
2. Program Narratives
In five pages or less (not including forms), double-spaced, provide the following:
A. Rationale and Approach
o Needs to be met. Identify the nature of the specific needs to be met,
how the needs were identified, and how they can be uniquely
addressed by an AmeriCorps program.
; Program design. Describe the concept and design for the program,
including activities to be performed by AmeriCorps members and how
these activities address the identified needs. Refer to the proposed service
objectives (see below) as needed. The description of the program design
should address all three of the AmeriCorps goals (getting things done,
strengthening communities, and developing members).
; Member profile. Provide a description of the total number of members to
be recruited, including required skills or attributes.