How can I become an AmeriCorps member?
Joining an AmeriCorps program is easy. You can get started by following these three simple steps:
- Step One: Ensure that you’re eligible.
AmeriCorps members must be at least 17 years of age, must be a U.S. citizen, must have a high school diploma (or be willing to work toward one), and be able to commit to at least one year of service. If you are accepted, you will need to provide a birth certificate or other information documenting your age and citizenship. AmeriCorps members serving vulnerable populations such as youth or seniors must be able to pass local, state and national background checks.
- Step Two: Locate and contact a program of interest.
To join AmeriCorps, apply directly to the program(s) of interest to you. AmeriCorps members serve in full-time, half-time, and reduced part-time capacity. The type of positions available will vary from program to program. You can view the current Washington State Program Directory or you can visit the Corporation for National and Community Service to get information about other AmeriCorps programs throughout the country.
Each program has its own selection process. After identifying programs of interest to you, you should contact the program to determine its selection process and obtain a copy of the member position description which will include minimum and desirable qualifications. The selection process typically includes an application (either on-line or paper) and an interview.
- Step Three: How to Apply for an AmeriCorps Program
- Step Four: Questions? Need more information?
Staff at the Washington Commission for National and Community Service is available if you have questions or need additional assistance. You can contact the State Commission at 360-902-0656.
See what AmeriCorps member Max Clendaniel with the WA Conservation Corps and recipient of the Jury's Choice Award at the 2009 NW National Service Symposium says about joining AmeriCorps:
What types of service do AmeriCorps members perform?
The service activities of AmeriCorps members will depend on the program. However, here is a sampling of typical member service activities:
- Tutoring children in reading;
- Clearing park trails;
- Rehabilitating low-income housing;
- Planting trees;
- Mentoring at-risk youth;
- Restoring salmon habitats;
- Providing services to home bound seniors;
- Reducing gang involvement in schools and neighborhoods;
- Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL);
- Provide emergency assistance and training for disasters.
Why should I serve in AmeriCorps?
There are as many reasons to serve as there are people who serve. Volunteering is not just an altruistic act. It's an opportunity to advance in all areas of your life. Here are a few of the things you can gain when you give your time and yourself:
- Connect with your community;
- Conserve funds for charities, nonprofits and faith-based and other community organizations by contributing your time;
- Share your skills and gain new ones;
- Develop self-esteem and self-confidence;
- Meet new people from all walks of life;
- Enhance your résumé and make important networking contacts;
- Promote a worthwhile activity;
- Feel needed and valued;
- Experience something new;
- Serve your country.
What are the benefits?
Perhaps the first and biggest benefit people get from volunteering is the satisfaction of incorporating service into their lives and making a difference in their community and country. The intangible benefits alone—such as pride, satisfaction and accomplishment—are worthwhile reasons to serve. But there are other benefits as well.
During their term of service, full-time members receive a modest living allowance. For the 2011-12 program year, the minimum living allowance for full-time members is $12,100. Depending on the program, part-time members may receive a living allowance.
In addition to the living allowance, all members who complete a term of service receive a Segal Education Award (valued at $5,550 for full-time members). The education award can be used pay for college, graduate school, or to pay back qualified student loans. Further, members with qualifying student loans are eligible for student loan deferment during their term of service.
Full-time members also receive health insurance and child care (if eligible).