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2016 Excellence in AmeriCorps Programming and Service

Nominate an outstanding AmeriCorps program, member, or alumnus to be recognized for high-quality and impactful service.

Corporation for National and Community Service

Type of Challenge: Nominations
Submission Start: 04/05/2016 12:00 PM ET
Submission End: 06/06/2016 05:00 PM ET

Description

In honor of retired US Senator Tom Harkin, an inspiring champion for national service, the Corporation for National and Community Service will present the “Excellence in AmeriCorps Programming and Service Awards.”  Our goal for these awards is to recognize outstanding and innovative programs and high quality and meaningful AmeriCorps service experiences (for current members and alumni). Just as Senator Harkin sought to expand “what worked” throughout his career, we want these awards to encourage the development and expansion of best practices in national service programming, improved project development, and increase the value of the AmeriCorps member experience to help tackle the country’s most pressing human and environmental needs through service.

With emphases on engaging individuals with disabilities in service, program innovation and enhancements, and compelling AmeriCorps member experiences, the awards reflect the depth of impact of the national service field on the communities served and the individuals serving. These awards will allow the Corporation for National and Community Service to share excellent program strategies and models with the national service field and the general public so that individuals, nonprofits, government agencies, schools, and more will be aware of the excellent and diverse range of national service programs across the country.

Check out the 2015 award recipients here: Press Release: http://www.nationalservice.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2015/first-annual-harkin-awards-honor-americorps-members-programs

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Rules

Eligibility: Eligible nominees are current service participants and alumni, and current programs funded through AmeriCorps grants (or subgrants) from the Corporation for National and Community Service. Those programs include:
  • AmeriCorps State
  • AmeriCorps National
  • Tribal programs funded by AmeriCorps
  • AmeriCorps VISTA
  • AmeriCorps NCCC
How to Enter: Each nomination should specify from the eligibility list the program with which it is affiliated. In addition, the narrative should address how the AmeriCorps member or program is addressing one of the award categories. Log on to www.challenge.gov, and search for 2016 Excellence in AmeriCorps Programming and Service on the homepage. Once you open the AmeriCorps nomination form (it’s called a Solution in www.challenge.gov), you’ll see links on the left-side of the page that include Challenge Details, Discussions, Solutions, Rules, and Submit Solution. Open each of the Challenge Details and Rules links to find all the details on the AmeriCorps awards: the eligibility criteria, the award categories, the nomination narrative instructions, and tips for writing the nomination. Enter the award category and full name of the nominee in the Title field on the Submit Solution link. Complete the nomination narrative and attach photos in the Description field of the Submit Solution link. Open the Discussions link to ask a question about the nomination process, form, etc. The online system will generate an automated message when your Solution is submitted successfully. Be sure to check your email's spam filter or clutter to confirm that you received the notification. Award Categories--Select from only one of the following for each nomination:
  1. Best new program design addressing a critical priority (new is a program launched since September 2014);
  2. Most significant enhancement to an existing program;
  3. Member with disability (ies) who significantly contributed to increasing the participation of other individuals with disabilities in national service; or
  4. Most compelling member experience in either building an ethic of civic responsibility or having positive change in their life.
Nominees should select only one award category and one program affiliation per submission. Submit a narrative of up to 500 words that clearly and concisely describes the nominee’s best program design, enhancement, expansion, or experience and accomplishments as a member for the award category selected. Ideally, the narrative will include evidence of the nominee’s impact in the community or on the program or other local projects, as well as evidence to support the nominee’s work or service as innovative, a best practice and/or a highly compelling and motivating experience. Submissions may also include photos. Photos should support the narrative submission and not replace it. Photos are encouraged as they are often very helpful in telling the complete service story. Please note that photos are not required. By submitting a nomination, each participant automatically confers on CNCS an irrevocable, nonexclusive, and unrestricted license to use the submitted content for purposes consistent with the agency’s national service mission. This includes the right to copy, reproduce, display, or distribute the content of the submission, and to make derivative works based upon the submission or a substantial portion of it without attribution or prior permission.
Deadline for Submissions: Submissions must be entered by 5:00 PM, EDT on Monday, June 6, 2016.
Format for Submissions: Nominations must be submitted online.
Limitations: Individuals and programs may submit no more than one nominee in each award category. However, individuals may not nominate themselves; self-nominations will not be eligible for review. Nominators are highly encouraged to focus on the quality of the nomination submitted – and not the quantity of nominations submitted.
Tips for Writing the Nomination:
  1. Enter the award category and full name of the nominee in the Title field in the Submit Solution link.
  2. Clearly identify the full name of the nominee, the service program affiliation, and the award category in the first sentence of the nomination narrative.
  3. Provide the name of the nominator and the nominator’s affiliation with the nominee in the second sentence of the nomination.
  4. Select only one program affiliation and only one nomination category for each submission. In the event a program and individual are both eligible to be nominated, submit two separate nominations: one for the new or enhanced program and one for the member, following the award category descriptions.
  5. Provide details that vividly illustrate the significance of the nominated member service/program. Details should clearly show how the nominated service goes above and beyond the excellent service that is expected from all AmeriCorps members and programs each year.
  6. Complete all required fields of the nomination form, including full contact information for the nominator and nominee.
  7. Please be sure to tailor the nomination narrative to the Excellence in AmeriCorps Service and Programming guidelines.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers: --Could you provide the definition of “AmeriCorps programming?” In order for a program to be eligible for a program award, does it have to be funded entirely through AmeriCorps, or is it sufficient that VISTA members serve and contribute to the program? Answer: AmeriCorps programming can mean a program that is entirely focused on and funded by AmeriCorps, or the program can be multi-faceted and include a variety of activities (with only one AmeriCorps component). Based on your description, it sounds like the VISTA member service could apply. The nomination narrative would provide more details on the focused effort of the VISTAs, results, etc. --Is there a word limit on the nominations? Answer: Yes, the nomination narrative should not exceed 500 words. --How do I submit a nomination? Answer: Log on to www.challenge.gov, and search for 2016 Excellence in AmeriCorps Programming and Service on the homepage. Once you open the AmeriCorps nomination form (it’s called a Solution in www.challenge.gov), you’ll see links on the left-side of the page that include Challenge Details, Discussions, Solutions, Rules, and Submit Solution. Open Challenge Details and Rules to find all the details on the AmeriCorps awards: the eligibility criteria, the award categories, the nomination narrative instructions, and tips for writing the nomination. The nomination narrative should be entered in the Description field on the Submit Solution link on the left-side of the award page. Enter the full name of the nominee in the Title field on the Submit Solution link. Open the Discussions link to ask a question about the nomination process, form, etc. Complete the nomination narrative and attach photos in the Description field of the Submit Solution link. The online system will generate an automated message when your Solution is submitted successfully. Be sure to check your email's spam filter or clutter to confirm that you received the notification. --I understand that self-nominations are not eligible; however, can a program director nominate her own program for one of the program categories? Answer: A program staff member may nominate her program in one of the two program categories, and a program may nominate a member or alumna/us from its own program for one of the member categories. --Do you have an example of a successful nomination submission? Answer: Yes, open the Solutions link on the left-side of the www.challenge.gov award page, and you'll see a Solution called EXAMPLE.

How To Enter

Nominations should be submitted on the Submit Solution link on the left-side of the award page on www.challenge.gov. Each nomination should specify from the eligibility list the program with which it is affiliated. In addition, the narrative should address how the AmeriCorps member or program is addressing one of the award categories. Click on the ‘Rules’ link to access details for submitting nominations.