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2017 Excellence in AmeriCorps Programming and Service Awards

About the Challenge
Nominate an outstanding AmeriCorps program, member, or alumnus for high-quality and impactful service.

Posted By: Corporation for National and Community Service
Category: Other
Submission Dates: 9 a.m. ET, May 17, 2017 - 5 p.m. ET, Jul 14, 2017 Judging Dates: Jul 17, 2017 - Jul 29, 2017

In honor of retired U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, an inspiring champion for national service, the Corporation for National and Community Service is soliciting nominations for the 2017 Excellence in AmeriCorps Programming and Service Awards. The AmeriCorps Awards will be presented on September 13 at the 2017 AmeriCorps State and National Symposium in Arlington, VA. AmeriCorps program staff, state commissions, members, and alumni are invited to submit nominations in one of the categories below no later than Friday, July 14.

Award categories:

  1. Best new program addressing a critical priority (new is a program launched since September 2015);
  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 her/his life.

Eligibility:

AmeriCorps programs and members in AmeriCorps State, National, VISTA, or NCCC are eligible to be nominated for the AmeriCorps Awards. Click on the ‘Rules’ link on the left side of the page for more details on submitting a nomination.

Purpose of the Awards:

The Corporation’s 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 Sen. 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.

To submit a nomination, click on the Rules link on the left side of the page for instructions, frequently asked questions, and more.

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Rules

Award Categories and Considerations — Select from only one of the following for each nomination:

  1. Best new program addressing a critical priority (new is a program launched since September 2015); things to consider in this category:
    • This category is for an entirely new program in which AmeriCorps members were not previously engaged in service under this organization.
    • The nomination should explain how the addition of member interventions/activities are addressing the critical priority in the community.
  2. Most significant enhancement to an existing program; things to consider in this category:
    • This category is for current AmeriCorps programs in which members are already serving.
    • The focus of the nomination in this category should be on the organization/program/enhancement specifically.
    • It may be appropriate to describe the people (national service members, staff, and volunteers) involved in this effort, but please focus the nomination on the program or enhancement itself.
  3. Member with disability (ies) who significantly contributed to increasing the participation of other individuals with disabilities in national service; things to consider in this category:
    • This category is for an AmeriCorps member who has disclosed having a disability and has served to recruit other members to serve in his/her program or in national service as a whole.
    • This category is also for an AmeriCorps member who has disclosed having a disability and has engaged community members with disabilities for creative/innovative problem solving within the broader community.

    4. Most compelling member experience in either building an ethic of civic responsibility or having positive change in her/his life; things to consider in this category:

    • The member experience may foster civic responsibility, strengthen the ties that bind a community together as a people, and provide educational or other professional opportunities for the member.
    • In general, behaviors, attitudes, and actions are the common principles of citizenship and civic engagement. Active citizenship encompasses a broad range of involvement and can be defined as “the act of contributing to public life and participating in solving public problems.”

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

Nominees should select only one award category and one program affiliation per submission.

Nomination Content:

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.

Instructions for Writing the Nomination Narrative:

  1. 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. 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 AmeriCorps program affiliation, and the award category in the first sentence of the nomination narrative.
  3. Provide the full name and email address of the nominator and the nominator’s affiliation with the nominee in the second sentence of the nomination. Note that nominations will not be considered complete or reviewed without the full name and contact information for the nominator.
  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. Describe how the nominee exemplifies excellence in AmeriCorps service or programming. Consider these questions: what made the service excellent? what data can you provide to support the impact the member or program made?
  6. 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.
  7. Tailor the nomination narrative to the Excellence in AmeriCorps Service and Programming instructions.
  8. Carefully proof read and review the nomination for completeness before submitting it in the Challenge Program.

Deadline for Submissions:

Submissions must be entered by 5:00 PM, EDT on Friday, July 14, 2017.

Format for Submitting a Nomination:

Nominations must be submitted as a Solution in the Challenge Program.

Limitations:

Individuals and programs may submit no more than one nominee in each award category. Individuals may not nominate themselves in the member award categories; self-nominations will not be eligible for review. However, program staff may nominate their own programs for the program categories. Nominators are highly encouraged to focus on the quality of the nomination submitted – and not the quantity of nominations submitted.

Instructions for Submitting the Nomination in the Challenge Program:

  1. Log on to www.challenge.gov, and search for 2017 Excellence in AmeriCorps Programming and Service challenge on the homepage.
  2. Open the link to access the award details and instructions for submitting nominations.
  3. If you have not worked with www.challenge.gov in the past, you will need to register on the site, and create an account. Click on the New to Challenge.gov Register for an account link to register in order to submit nominations for the AmeriCorps Awards. There is no cost to register or participate in the Challenge Program. Complete the registration; you will need to activate the account you create within 24 hours (look for an email to activate the account) in order to submit a nomination.
  4. Once you create your account and log in to system, open the AmeriCorps Awards challenge. You’ll see links on the left side of the page, under the AmeriCorps logo, 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 instructions for writing the nomination. Note that the award nomination form is called a Solution on www.challenge.gov. To submit a nomination, you will Submit a Solution on the website.
  5. To submit a nomination for an AmeriCorps Award, click the Submit Solution link on the left side of the page.
  6. In the Title field, enter the award category and full name of the nominee.  Be sure to use the same award categories (and language) as listed in the challenge.
  7. If desired, attach photos in the Image/Logo field. Photos are not required to complete and submit a nomination.
  8. Next, enter nomination narrative in the Description field.
  9. Read and accept the challenge terms and conditions.
  10. Click the Submit Solution link to complete and submit the nomination.
  11. You will receive a confirmation message at the top of the screen when your solution is submitted successfully.
  12. If you have a question, click on the Discussions link on the left side of the page 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.

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 limit is 500 words.

–How do I submit a nomination?

Answer: Log on to www.challenge.gov, and search for 2017 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 instructions 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.

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