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Labor and Economic Opportunity

National Service and MCSC Glossary of Terms

The Act (Reauthorization): The National and Community Service Act of 1990, as amended by the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993.


Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA): The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state, and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.  It also applies to the United States Congress.  Section 504 of the ADA states that "no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under" any program or activity that either receives Federal financial assistance or is conducted by any Executive agency or the United States Postal Service.


America's Promise - The Alliance for Youth: The organization leading the post-Summit campaign to improve the lives of young people in America.  (See Presidents' Summit for America's Future.)


America Reads Challenge: The goal of the America Reads Challenge is that all children read well and independently by the end of the third grade. It engages trained reading tutors and partners working closely to supplement the efforts of parents, teachers, and schools to teach children to read.


AmeriCorps: An umbrella term that refers to programs that are designated by the Corporation as national service programs and the participants in them.  In general, AmeriCorps programs provide participants with a full or part-time service experience, a living stipend, and an education award from the National Service Trust Fund.  AmeriCorps includes AmeriCorps* State/National (the grant program), AmeriCorps* VISTA, and AmeriCorps* NCCC (the National Civilian Community Corps.


AmeriCorps Member: Individuals enrolled in AmeriCorps are called members

AmeriCorps National (or National Direct): National non-profit organizations that receive funding directly from the Corporation to operate programs in two or more states.


AmeriCorps NCCC: A 10-month full-time residential service program for men and women ages 18-24 operated directly by the Corporation.  Campuses are located in Charleston, S.C.; Denver, CO; Perry Point, MD; San Diego, CA; and Washington, DC.


AmeriCorps Program: A coordinated group of activities linked by common elements such as recruitment, selection, and training of members and staff, regular group activities, and assignment to projects organized to achieve the mission and goals of National Service.


AmeriCorps State: AmeriCorps programs housed in states and local nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and educational institutions that receive grants from State Commissions in partnership with the Corporation.


AmeriCorps State Formula Programs: AmeriCorps programs funded out of the state allotment that is determined annually on a population formula.


AmeriCorps State Competitive Programs: AmeriCorps programs selected by a national competitive process and funded through State Commissions with funds from the Corporation.


AmeriCorps Tribes and Territories: Programs that receive grants directly from the Corporation to meet the needs of Native American Tribes and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.


AmeriCorps* VISTA: Volunteers in Service to America, a national service program in which citizens 18 years of age and over engage in one year of service, helping low income communities to work toward self sufficiency.


Annual Objectives: Derived from the mission statement, defines expected annual outcomes which are demonstrable and, when possible, measurable.


Approved AmeriCorps Position: An AmeriCorps position for which the Corporation has approved the provision of an AmeriCorps educational award.


Citizen Corps:  The new Citizen Corps includes initiatives to engage Americans in specific homeland security efforts in communities throughout the country. The volunteer initiatives, led at the local level by new Citizen Corps Councils, include a Medical Reserve Corps, a Volunteers in Police Service Program, a doubling of Neighborhood Watch, a new Terrorist Information and Prevention System, and a tripling of Community Emergency Response Team members.


Citizen Representation: Representation by individuals from the community that are not actively involved in the organization(s).


Civic Participation: Involving citizens (non-typical volunteers) in service.


Community Service Funds: Monies utilized to enable individuals or groups to perform community service.


Community-Based Agency: A private nonprofit organization (including a church or other religious entity) that is representative of a community or a significant segment of a community and is engaged in meeting human, educational, environmental, or public safety community needs.


Community-Based Resources: Resources that originate locally in a community (vs. state, federal, or outside sources).


Connect America: The Points of Light Foundation's initiative which is a collaborative effort to bring together the energies and resources of non-profit organizations, business, and community volunteers to help build the connections that are critical to solving society's problems.


Consortia: A group of organizations whose purpose is to collectively facilitate and support the work of a service program in ways that add material and human resources beyond those available to each organization individually.


Corporation for National and Community Service ("The Corporation") (CNCS): The federally established corporation, which funds and administers AmeriCorps, as well as Learn and Serve America and the Senior Service Corps.  Authorized by the National and Community Service Act of 1993 and exists as part of the USA Freedom Corps.


Cross-stream: When individuals or organizations from diverse service fields work together to achieve goals.


Education Award: Benefit of $4,725 (for full-time members) or $2,363 (for part-time members) received by AmeriCorps members after successful completion of a term of service.  The award is paid directly to a lending or educational institution and may be used to pay off education loans or to finance college, graduate school, or approved vocational training.


Education Award Program (EAP or Education Award Only):  An AmeriCorps program that receives no operating funds from the Corporation and that generally pays no living allowance to AmeriCorps members or the living allowance is paid from local funds.


Eligible AmeriCorps Members: In general, a person is eligible for consideration to be an AmeriCorps member for up to two terms if they:  are 17 years of age or older at the commencement of service, unless the individual is in a youth corps program in which case the participant must be between the ages of 16 and 25; either have received a high school diploma or its equivalent, including an alternative diploma or certificate for those individuals with mental and physical disabilities for whom such alternative diploma or certificate is appropriate, or agree to obtain a high school diploma or its equivalent over the course of the program; have not dropped out of elementary or secondary school in order to enroll as a national service participant; are citizens or nationals of the United States or lawful permanent resident alien of the United States; and meet the task-related eligibility requirements established by the program.


Ethic of Service: Believing in, endorsing, promoting, and participating in service.


Evaluation: An assessment of program effectiveness and outcomes at the end of a given period of time.  Evaluation is primarily the responsibility of the Corporation and will be conducted by the Corporation with the cooperation of State Commissions and programs.  Evaluation should not be confused with program's internal evaluation and monitoring responsibilities.


Experiential Learning: Learning by doing, by using, or experiencing a concept or testing a skill.  The experiential learning model is an inductive learning process consisting of five stages or phases: experiencing, reporting or publishing, processing, generalizing, and applying.


Federal Fiscal Year: October 1-September 30


Feedback: In communication theory, listening to a message and paraphrasing it to the communicator to ensure understanding - feeding or giving back information. In other uses, implies giving back information about the quality of someone's presentation or the effects of a person's behavior and can involve critiquing.


Focus group: A carefully planned discussion, lead by a trained moderator, in which a small group of 8-12 people give their opinions of and reactions to a concept, approach, or sample product.


Full Participation: Recognition that all people have both the right and responsibility to participate in community service and volunteerism, both as providers and recipients of service.


Getting Things Done: The motto of AmeriCorps and the Corporation and its primary goal.  It means doing direct service that achieves demonstrable results in communities.


GPRA: Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 shifts focus of federal management and decision making away from activities undertaken to a focus on results of those activities, such as real gains in safety or environmental quality.  Impetus for Programming for Impact.


Impact Programming (Programming for Impact): An approach to service programming that addresses the priority community issue or problem that National Senior Service Corps service activities will address.  It builds community need, accomplishments and impacts into station and volunteer assignment development, planning, and reporting to reflect measurable changes in the community, clients, or agency that occur from the service activity.


In-Kind Services: Donations of goods and/or services (vs. monetary donations).


Learn and Serve: Service-learning programs that are designed to enrich academic learning and promote personal growth in participants while meeting community needs.  There are two categories of Learn and Serve America programs: K-12 and Higher Education.  Learn and Serve America: K-12 has two main components: school-based, which includes formula allotment grants to State Education Agencies, and community-based, which are distributed on a competitive basis to State Commissions, grant making entities, and other qualified organizations. Learn and Serve America: Higher Education applicants propose programs directly to the Corporation.


Living Allowance: AmeriCorps members receive living allowances, not salaries or wages.


Make A Difference Day: A national day of volunteering sponsored by USA Weekend in partnership with the Points of Light Foundation held on the fourth Saturday of October.


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day ON for Service: A day to honor Dr. Martin Luther King's philosophy on service.  In 1994, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act designed to transform the observance of Martin Luther King's birthday into a day of service that reflects his life and teaching.


Meaningful Service: Service that has an impact on server and recipient (impact as defined by each).


Multiculturalism: Often used interchangeably with diversity and pluralism to refer to an environment in which differences among people and groups are recognized, respected, and valued.  They are seen as positive and desirable, rather than negative or threatening.  Also refers to the combination of values, which reflect this philosophy.


National Senior Service Corps (Senior Corps): All the senior service programs administered by the Corporation: Senior Companions, Foster Grandparents, and Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).  Also called Senior Corps.  Formerly called the National Senior Volunteer Corps and before that the Older American Volunteer Program.


National Service: Any Corporation funded program, including AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America, and National Senior Service Corps, regardless of whether such program offers stipends or educational awards.  ("national service" in lower case refers to the broader field of national efforts, including those operating abroad, like Peace Corps and those focused on military, rather than civilian service).


National Volunteer Week: A week designated to nationally promote and recognize the efforts of citizen volunteers of all ages.  Usually the third week of April.


National Youth Service Day: An annual public education campaign that occurs in April, highlighting the efforts of young people in their communities, encouraging more young people to become involved in volunteering and promoting the benefits of service to the American people.


Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA): A legal notification, published in the Federal Register, describing the availability of funds for a new program.


PDAT: Professional Development Assistance and Training funds received by State Commissions from the Corporation to meet the training and technical assistance needs of national service programs in their respective states.


Participant Benefits (AmeriCorps): Tangible benefits provided to AmeriCorps members during and following a term of service.  During the term of service, these benefits include a living allowance (which is, in general, not less than $7,662 per term of full-time service) and health care and child care benefits as needed.  Upon successful completion of a full-time term of service, members will receive an education award of $4,725 which will be kept in the National Service Trust Fund and remain available for up to seven years.


Partnership: Two or more entities that have entered into a written agreement specifying the partnership's goals and activities as well as the responsibilities, goals, and activities of each partner.


Points of Light Foundation: A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that was established in May, 1990 to engage people more effectively in volunteer community service to help solve serious social problems.  In October 1991, the Foundation merged with The National Volunteer Center, which brought a 21-year history of supporting and strengthening volunteer activity.  The Foundation helps communities build and strengthen local infrastructure to support volunteering by working with Volunteer Centers and with companies interested in employee volunteering; it works with non-profit organizations and government agencies to build their capacity to engage volunteers effectively; it engages the public through increased awareness of the importance of volunteering; and it addresses serious social problems through volunteer service.


Presidents' Summit for America's Future: The historic gathering in Philadelphia in April 1997 at which President Clinton, former Presidents Bush, Carter, and Ford, and General Colin Powell called for all Americans to find ways to ensure that all children have access to the fundamental resources they need:  caring adults in their lives, as parents, mentors, tutors, and coaches; safe places with structured activities in which to learn and grow; a healthy start and healthy future; an effective education that equips them with marketable skills; and an opportunity to give back to their communities through their own service.


Priority Areas: Four issue or program areas in which AmeriCorps supports programs:

Education - school readiness and school success;

Public Safety - crime prevention and crime control;

Environment - neighborhood and natural environment; and

Human Needs - health and home.

Program: A coordinated group of activities linked by common elements such as recruitment, selection, and training of participants and staff; regular group activities; and assignment to projects organized for the purpose of achieving the mission and goals of National Service and carried out with the assistance provided under the Act.


Project: An activity, or a set of activities, carried out through a program that receives assistance under the Act, that results in a specific identifiable service or improvement that otherwise would not be done with existing funds and that does not duplicate the routine services or functions of the employer to whom participants are assigned.


Request for Application (RFA)/Request for Proposal (RFP): A term which some states use to describe the document with which they solicit program proposals from organizations.  Other states may call such a document a grant application or bid.  State Commissions will issue RFPs for AmeriCorps programs from nonprofit organizations, local governments, higher education institutions, Tribes, and state agencies.


Serve, Service: Whenever possible, the terms serve and service should be used rather than work when referring to AmeriCorps members' activities.


Service Delivery Areas: Designated geographic areas in which services are provided.

Service-Learning: Service-learning is a teaching method that integrates community service into the school curriculum.  Service-learning programs engage young people in community activities where academic skills are used to solve real-life problems.  At the same time, program activities help students understand the meaning of citizenship and their ability to help determine the quality of life in their communities.


Stakeholders: The various people and organizations with a 'stake' in a program.  This includes funders, directors, participants, and others directly or indirectly affected by the program and its results.


State Commission: The term used to refer to a 15 to 25 member, independent, nonpartisan body appointed by a Governor to implement service programs.  Duties of a State Commission include: development of a comprehensive Unified State Plan for service and volunteering in the state; submission of the state's application to the Corporation for AmeriCorps and community-based Learn and Serve funding; administration of the competition for AmeriCorps programs; oversight and monitoring of funded AmeriCorps and CBO Learn and Serve programs; and reporting accomplishments to the Corporation.


Streams of Service: A term used to refer to the many types of service programs, for example, the "K-12 service stream" or the "collegiate service stream" or the "full-time service stream."


T/TA: Training and technical assistance.


Triad (Or National Service Triad): A collaboration between the three streams of service, State Commissions, National Service State Offices, and the state Learn and Serve agency (in Michigan, the Michigan Department of Education).  Also used to refer to a Senior Corps program that works with county and local law enforcement.


Unified State Plan:  Describes how national and community service will be promoted in the state.  The plan includes a description of:  the State's experience in coordinating and supporting the existing network of service programs, the State's priorities for making funding decisions and vision for strengthening the service program infrastructure, the goals and strategies established to advance the State's plan, the State's outreach and open and inclusive planning and selection process, and the extent of coordination with State Education Agency's Learn and Serve America proposal and other national and community service proposals.


USA Freedom Corps:  The USA Freedom Corps is a federal umbrella organization for the Corporation, Peace Corps, and the new Citizen Corps.  It will promote a culture of responsibility, service, and citizenship.  It will work with key service agencies in government and the nonprofit sector to provide incentives and new opportunities to serve at home and abroad.  The USA Freedom Corps will draw on help from Americans of all ages and of every background.


Michigan Terms:


Aggregate Quarterly WBRS Report:  This report is complied each quarter on WBRS to give an overall picture of all Michigan's AmeriCorps programs.  It includes reports filed by the Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC) and a total of all the numbers from each programs quarterly reports.


America's Promise (AP):  AP is dedicated to carrying out goals in five resource areas:  an ongoing relationship with a caring adult, safe places to learn and grow, a healthy start, marketable skills, and opportunities to serve.


AmeriCorps Member Council:  A leadership group of selected Michigan's AmeriCorps members who meet to discuss and deal with current member issues.


Celebration:  A gathering of AmeriCorps members to kick off the program year.  It involves training and orientation.


ConnectMichigan Alliance: Created to ensure the strength and stability of support for Michigan's volunteers.  Through a $20 million endowment, it is uniting the combined forces of the Michigan Campus Compact (MCC), Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC), Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA), and the Volunteer Centers of Michigan (VCM) to permanently sustain and expand the volunteer infrastructure for which Michigan is known and heralded. 


Finance and Administration Division (FAD):  Division within the MCSC that oversees personnel and finance matters.


Financial Status Report (FSR): These are required monthly financial statements filed with the MCSC by its sub-grantees.


Grant Application Review Process (GARP):  Umbrella term to cover the entire process evaluating potential grantees and assisting in their progress toward funding.


Outreach Division:  A division of the MCSC with the responsibility for media and public relations, special events coordination, and building community awareness.


Peer Review Team:  A group of evaluators who reviews and assesses the RFPs, which are submitted to the MCSC to determine if the proposed program should be funded.


Program Director (PD):  This is the leadership position for each of the Michigan's AmeriCorps programs.  They are responsible for record keeping and the filing of timely reports for their respective program.


Program Division:  A division of the MCSC that monitors, assists, and directs AmeriCorps, Learn & Serve, VIG, and Michigan's AmeriCorps Promise Fellows programs.


Promise Fellows:  AmeriCorps Promise Fellows work within Communities of Promise on the five fundamental resources or Five Promises.  They are AmeriCorps members who are eligible for the education award at the completion of their year of service.


Quarterly Progress Report:  These are filed every three months by each Michigan's AmeriCorps program and highlights accomplishments and progress toward the attainment of the program's selected objectives.


Site Visit:  These are official visits by the MCSC program officers to program sites throughout Michigan.  They are an integral part of the evaluation of programs and help to provide technical assistance to each program. 


Volunteer Investment Grants (VIG):  Grants available to community-based, volunteer, nonprofit agency partnerships that designate an agency to function as a community volunteer resource center.  These state funded grants help to build endowment funds for volunteer centers.


Web Based Reporting System (WBRS):  It is a web site which program directors use to file their quarterly reports.