For folks who are not familiar with AmeriCorps, it is essentially the domestic-branch of the Peace Corps.
For students who are interested in both using a gap year to serve America and receiving an educational stipend, AmeriCorps can be a great experience.
History of AmeriCorps
Conceived by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) was a response to addressing the public needs of the United States. This program was expanded and eventually consolidated by President Bill Clinton in 1993 which created the Corporation for National and Community Service.
AmeriCorps offers three different programs:
Let’s focus on the 1st and 3rd programs, because AmeriCorps VISTA requires some work experience or a college degree.
The AmeriCorps State and National and the AmeriCorps NCCC have some key differences, so you can know which program is right for you.
AmeriCorps State and National can be served full-time or part-time over a year-long period. You need to be 17 years old to serve and are eligible to serve in every state (including on Indian Reservations and in U.S. territories). This flexibility is great, because it gives you the opportunity to serve close to home during your gap year. Programs vary and you need to apply to each one individually. Luckily, AmeriCorps has a useful search option to match you up with an opportunity that works for you.
AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is another wonderful option. NCCC operations on a team-basis and you are assigned to one “home campus” within the United States. NCCC volunteers must be 18 years old and serve for 10 months. This commitment involves serving in different communities that surround their “home campus.” If this sounds like something you are interested in, AmeriCorps can match you up with potential assignments.
Both of these programs will give you the opportunity to serve in a variety of capacities: education, health, the environment, and in other ways. In both AmeriCorps State and National and NCCC you will receive a monthly stipend to pay for your essentials.
Upon competition you will a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award of $5,350 for a full year of service. This award can be applied to your college tuition for up to 7 years after you receive the Education Award. Additionally, some schools match your Education Award, so you will effectively be receiving double the money. AmeriCorps has a list of participating schools to check out.
Also, AmeriCorps sponsors a really cool summer associate program where you get to volunteer AND receive a pro-rated educational award (of about $1,000). This is a great opportunity for college students to volunteer and help pay for their tuition!
If you are interested in a rewarding experience that will also help you pay for college, you should check out these additional links:
Also, as I am an AmeriCorps Alumni, feel free to e-mail me directly with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org!