AmeriCorps FAQs

The Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness (MCAH) is seeking housing and homeless service providers interested in increasing services and capacity through AmeriCorps service to serve as AmeriCorps host sites.

MCAH offers two streams of AmeriCorps programming:

 

MCAH’s AmeriCorps (Direct Service)

Our direct-service program connects service members (full-time or half-time) with housing and homeless service providers to help address gaps in services and increase the organization’s ability to provide these services. Members may serve in one of three available position types: Housing Search & Information Specialist, Outreach Specialist, and Resource Generation & Management Specialist. During the yearlong term of service, members will engage with those experiencing or at-risk of homelessness to provide services meant to provide connections to available services, assist with obtaining and maintaining housing, and to increase self-sufficiency and income.

Capacity Building to End Homelessness AmeriCorps VISTA Program (Capacity Focused)

Our capacity-building program connects members (full-time) with housing and homeless service providers to provide indirect services meant to increase capacity, allowing the organization to become more efficient and effective in their operation. In this program, members complete service activities for one-year service terms in any of the following service areas: Financial Resources, Volunteer Generation, Community Awareness & Engagement, and Partnerships & Networks.

 

Common Concerns/FAQs:

We could use the help, but don’t know where to start. What could an AmeriCorps position look like at our organization?

Great question! We know that AmeriCorps comes with restrictions about what members can and cannot do but know there are a lot of ways AmeriCorps members can make an impact within a host site organization. First, it is important to remember that AmeriCorps service is meant to help your organization go above and beyond current operations. Within the parameters of each program (direct service and capacity building), consider any gaps in services that exist or ways that you could use help in growing your organization. AmeriCorps members cannot duplicate staff positions and should not share many common activities with staff, so this is a great chance to consider what new services or resources you may need.

MCAH’s AmeriCorps’ RFP provides examples of service activities for each of the three position types. All positions should provide client services and include significant client interaction that can be connected to the performance measure of clients served, clients housed, and clients employed. With that in mind, below are some examples of recent ways host sites have utilized direct AmeriCorps service:

  • Conducting outreach alongside the outreach team to provide services to those not qualified for various programs, such as PATH
  • Connecting with individuals at warming centers, food kitchens, etc. to conduct assessments and connect to community resources
  • Assisting clients with the Housing Choice Voucher process, including recertification reminders and assistance
  • Helping clients with searching for jobs, building resumes, preparing for interviews, etc.
  • Establishing relationships with local employers to create employment opportunities and partnerships
  • Compiling and maintaining lists of available housing, connecting with local landlords, and addressing helping to become housing ready
  • Providing supportive services including obtaining vital documents and connecting to sources of incomes and assistance programs
  • Assist with eviction prevention and diversion

The Capacity Building to End Homelessness AmeriCorps VISTA Program RFP includes further details about the service focus areas, possible service activities, and limitations on VISTA service.

VISTA activities may not include client services, but should be focused on expanding effectiveness, efficiency, scale, scope, and reach.

Below are recent examples of VISTA projects:

  • Increase community volunteers by creating a volunteer recruitment and retention plan, defining volunteer roles, and creating a volunteer tracking system
  • Build marketing and communications capacity by assessing current gaps, developing marketing materials including a communication toolkit, and training host site staff on implementation
  • Identifying and developing an e-fundraising platform and plan
    Developing and strengthening local partnerships by creating informational materials for potential partners, increasing communication to existing partners, and establishing new partnership relationships
  • Leveraging financial resources by creating annual giving event, including solicitation of donations and grants

We know we must assign a full-time staff person to be the AmeriCorps supervisor. Will it take a lot of their time?

Being an AmeriCorps supervisor is an important role that helps our program operate and provides for a supportive and positive service experience for our AmeriCorps members. We know this can seem like a lot to take on, so we’re here to help throughout the whole process!

Site supervisors receive training prior to hosting an AmeriCorps member. This training includes getting a strong understanding of the AmeriCorps program and our policies and procedures, preparing for the supervisor role and expectations, requirements and suggestions for member recruitment and onboarding, and best practices for on-going member support.

While onboarding and training may take some time at the start of the service year (which can be helped by including other staff in the training process), AmeriCorps supervision is expected to take less of the supervisor’s time as members become settled into their positions. Following the initial host site orientation and training process (which typically takes one to two weeks), we ask that host site supervisors provide task supervision, conduct weekly one-on-one supervision meetings (which can transition to bi-weekly or monthly after the first quarter), review and approve bi-weekly timesheets and quarterly reports, and provide on-going support as needed.

MCAH’s AmeriCorps Program Director is available to provide assistance, support, and mediation to AmeriCorps members and supervisors throughout the service year.

We’re a domestic violence service provider and don’t use the Michigan Statewide Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), can we still apply?

For organizations prohibited from entering Personally Identifiable Information into HMIS, the program may be able to award member placement should the organization use a comparable database and can support the submission of external member-generated reports to collect the necessary performance measure data.

 

How does the host site match fee work?

For each program, we ask host sites to contribute a set host site match fee to contribute to program operational expenses. The host site match fee is collected prior to members beginning their service terms and is not refundable once paid. In addition to the host site match fee, host sites are required to provide milage reimbursement to members for travel on behalf of the site. To help potential sites understand the host site match fee and member costs, see the tables below.

 

How will we find our AmeriCorps member(s)?

We know that employee and AmeriCorps member recruitment has been difficult due to the pandemic and employment environment. We will provide training, support, and assistance in the member recruitment process. Host sites should create and implement a robust recruitment plan, focusing largely on community-level recruitment.

The AmeriCorps program will be responsible for recruitment through the AmeriCorps Portal, a site for those specifically seeking an AmeriCorps position, and Handshake, a site allowing us to post the position on a recruitment board utilized by many local colleges and universities. We will also utilize MCAH’s website and social media.

Below are some of the common recruitment methods used by host sites:

  • Related educational departments at local institutions, such as the Social Work department
  • Organization and partners’ social media and newsletters
  • Outreach to local civic organizations, community centers, and congregations
  • Outreach to previous clients and interns
  • Online job boards, such as LinkedIn and Idealist

 

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