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Volunteer Administrators of Northern Nevada Holiday Meeting: Appreciating Your Volunteers

December 10, 2013

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VANN is a network of people who work or volunteer as volunteer coordinators or administrators.  The mission statement is:

 VANN commits to the advancement of volunteer engagement by supporting volunteer administrators through networking, learning, and collaboration.

VANN was initiated by Nevada Volunteers in response to the interest and support of volunteer coordinators in the community who believed that having a professional network and opportunities to learn and share would strengthen and enhance the professionalism of volunteer engagement and also would provide mentoring opportunities, learning, and sharing of challenges and successes. The group was formally established in November, 2011.  VANN is led by a steering committee that plans the meetings, coordinates communication, maintains the membership list, and establishes the policies and practices of the group.  Nevada Volunteers supports the organization through staff time for coordination and fiscal management as needed.

Meetings are held quarterly, usually during the third week of the month, in February, May, August, and November.

Interested in joining VANN?  Contact Janet Wright, Volunteer Development Manager, at Nevada Volunteers for more information today!

Thank you to the Nevada Museum of Art for hosting this quarter’s VANN meeting and to Wells Fargo for donating lunch during the meeting!  We appreciate you!

Thanks to Mick Lount, one of Washoe County School District’s AmeriCorps VISTAs, for capturing this great networking event!

Are you applying for the AmeriCorps Competitive funding?

November 13, 2013

With this Friday being the deadline for organization’s letter of intent and the readiness assessment for new applicants, we wanted to share some FAQs related to Competitive funding…

What is AmeriCorps?

AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), an independent federal agency whose mission is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. (2014 NOFO FAQs)

AmeriCorps grants are people (AmeriCorps member) grants.  AmeriCorps members are not volunteers nor are they employees — they are AmeriCorps members.  There are significant rules pertaining to the use of AmeriCorps members, along with specific prohibited activities, which you will need to be aware of when structuring your program.  We recommend that you review the general overview of AmeriCorps, located here on our website.  If you apply, your organization will be responsible for recruiting, interviewing, selecting, training, and supervising these members.

Who should apply for this NOFO?

Organization looking to propose a program that will operate only in NEVADA, apply to Nevada Volunteers.  After being reviewed by the Nevada Peer Review Committee and the Commission, if selected, the application is sent to CNCS for review and final funding decision.

Doesn’t Nevada Volunteers offer another type of funding?

Yes, and this is why we often have a lot of confusion around who should apply for what.  This funding opportunity is called Competitive because the program will compete with other single state programs across the nation for funding directly from CNCS through Nevada Volunteers.  This is a very competitive process!

The other type of funding is called AmeriCorps*State Formula, which has not been released for 2014 yet.  Again, it’s for Nevada single state applicants, but the Nevada applicants compete against other Nevada only applicants for funding distributed by Nevada Volunteers.  For more information about future funding opportunities, sign up here for announcements.

Are there specific areas that Nevada Volunteers wants programs to work within?

There are six focus areas: Disaster Services; Economic Opportunity; Education, Environmental Stewardship, Healthy Futures, and Veterans and Military Families.  For more information on these areas, check out the Nevada Volunteers’ NOFO.

CNCS also prioritizes the focus areas.  These tiers will be utilized to select organizations for funding.  For information on the tiers, read about it in the NOFO.

Program design should be evidence based or evidence informed, which includes a theory of change and logic model.  You get points for this and this is a strong point of evidence.  “Evidence for the intervention could include results from research, performance data, or results from a similar, successful program and would provide the basis for decisions about the design, frequency, and intensity of the proposed intervention,” according to the 2014 NOFO FAQs.

Our organization has never partnered with AmeriCorps before.  Is this worth even applying?

Yes, applicants who successfully demonstrate compliance with eligibility, deadline, and completeness requirements will be examined thoroughly by the Nevada Peer Review Committee, the Commission and CNCS.

So our organization can get people to come serve for free if we just apply and get approved?

No, in order to receive AmeriCorps members and funding your organization will have to put some resources towards the grant.

In AmeriCorps language, there’s something called Cost per MSY (stands for Cost per Member Service Year) and represents the cost to CNCS for your AmeriCorps program.  1 MSY = 1 Full-time Term of Service (1700 Member Service Hours).

The cost per MSY maximums are outlined in the Nevada NOFO.  The correct maximum cost per MSY is $13,300.  Please understand that the cost per MSY is a competitive factor in being selected for funding.

For first time applicants, you must match with cash or in-kind contributions at least 24% of the project’s total Operating Costs (Section I) plus Member Costs (Section II) plus Administrative Costs (Section III).

Other items to know…

Nevada Volunteers has specific requirements (see page 2 of the Nevada Volunteers NOFO).

Letter of Intent due to info@nevadavolunteers.org by COB November 15th.  This should include the name of the applicant organization, address, contact person, email address, phone number, and type of grant.

If you are a new applicant, the Readiness Assessment is due on November 15th.

Full Grant Application is due in eGrants December 3rd.  It is not yet open in eGrants.  We are waiting on CNCS, but should be open this week.  One of our biggest suggestions is to not wait for the last minute on this grant: there is a lot of material to cover and should be done ahead of time in case of any glitches with eGrants.  Please pay attention to he required supplemental materials, including organizational chart, logic model, and letter of commitment of significant partners, and due dates.

If you have any questions, contact Nevada Volunteers at 775-825-1900 or info@nevadavolunteers.org.

Another year of service comes to an end…

August 20, 2013

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…but for some, that means two years of service.

Nevada Outdoor School’s AmeriCorps*State program recently recognized the AmeriCorps members that have served through their organization in the rural community.  There were stories from host site supervisors about AmeriCorps members’ achievements and successes throughout the past year of service.  One host site supervisor in particular beamed as she told about her organization’s AmeriCorps member and how much she would be missed.  It was easy to see that while every single one of those AmeriCorps members had made great strides in the host site organization, the community, and in their own lives, that spending all week, every week with an organization for two years made a HUGE impact in the organization, the community, their life, and the people around them.

Brenna Archibald shared a her reflection of how she has changed over the last two years and how National Service has impacted her life…

Wow!  Today was my last day as an AmeriCorps*State Member serving at Nevada Outdoor School and Friends of Nevada Wilderness and I have to admit that it’s absolutely bittersweet.  Just a few days ago, I was singing silly songs and acting out skits for a group of 10-12 year old girls around a campfire, and today I was cleaning out my desk.  My two terms of service as an AmeriCorps member have flown by and I can honestly say that I have a hard time remembering who I was before NOS as I look back.  When I started serving for NOS and Friends of Nevada Wilderness, I thought I knew who I was and what my abilities were.  Now here I am, stumped at trying to recall who I was before I began this life changing journey.  I have changed so much in the last two years throughout my service and am so appreciative of the opportunity to have had this change.

I’m more passionate about the environment and the outdoors.  I’m more energetic and compassionate for young students and the necessity to provide them with learning opportunities in the outdoors.  I’ve impressed myself with how much I was able to balance through my AmeriCorps duties while remaining positive and enjoying my experiences.  My personal life has been challenging throughout my service but I’m more confident in my abilities and therefore am more resilient than I ever have been.  I’m an advocate for National Service and for the AmeriCorps experience.  I’m a supportive teammate more than I was prior to becoming an AmeriCorps member.  I can work collaboratively and am more confident in the strengths I bring to the team to produce success.

My AmeriCorps experience is one that I will remember and has been extremely valuable to me.  I’ve worked with tremendous students, volunteers, and dedicated AmeriCorps members and organizational staff that have inspired me on a daily basis for the last two years.  Asking myself, “Where would I be if I didn’t do AmeriCorps?” is a scary question because of the beneficial experiences I’ve had for me and my future.  I plan to continue to volunteer for NOS and Friends of the Wilderness and look forward to keeping in touch with many AmeriCorps members (past and present), as well as community volunteers I’ve worked with, and NOS/Friends of Wilderness staff I’ve had the joy and pleasure of serving alongside.  Words can’t truly describe my appreciation for AmeriCorps and all the people who helped make my terms of service a positive, even life changing, experience.  I’m forever grateful and it has changed me for the better, while enriching my life beyond description.

It’s because of members like Brenna that the Nevada Outdoor School AmeriCorps*State program is successful in impacting the rural communities of Nevada.  Here are some of their achievements between September 2012 and July 2013:

  • 20 AmeriCorps members served 12,716.5 hours
  • They recruited 915 additional volunteers that served 3,480.25 hours
  • Over 4,700 clients were served through the Food Bank
  • Over 8,600 students were taught 690 environmental education lessons through Nevada Outdoor School
  • 231 clients received health care information at the Humboldt County Senior Center

On behalf of Nevada Volunteers, thank you to those AmeriCorps*State members serving in rural Nevada!  We know that you will continue to make an impact in whatever field you choose to pursue because you understand the importance of team work, dedication, and service!  Congratulations on your year (or years) of successful service!

Today is more than just a day off from work…

May 27, 2013

In our busy daily lives, we often see an upcoming holiday on our calendars and think “Great!  I get a day of work or school!”  But how many times have you really looked at the title of that holiday and thought about the meaning of it in your life?

With today being Memorial Day, Nevada Volunteers, the Governor’s Commission on Service, wanted to share how grateful we are to those men and women that serve our country.  It is our hope that we are doing our part here in Nevada to bring awareness to veterans and encourage Nevadans to give back to those that have served us by volunteering and supporting local missions for veterans and military families.

One of Nevada Volunteers’ AmeriCorps*State programs was funded to specifically serve the veteran population: WestCare Foundation.  Currently there are five veterans and five veteran family members serving as AmeriCorps*State members through WestCare Foundation, where they have assisted over 420 veterans and provided them with direct services.

Not only does Nevada Volunteers encourage our AmeriCorps programs to serve the veteran and military family populations, but Nevadans as well.  Take some time out of your busy lives, and see if there is a veteran or military family organization near you that would love an hour or two of your time.  To find more volunteer opportuntities, visit www.nevadavolunteers.org today!

With the veteran population growing, we know that the veteran hospitals around Nevada could always use more volunteers and help.  Contact one near you here and see how you can get involved!

We know how busy life can get, but use your day off from work or school today to say a simple “Thank you!” to those around you that have fought for our country and served all of us in fighting for our freedom!

From all of us at Nevada Volunteers, we hope all of you have a wonderful Memorial Day and THANK YOU to those of you that have served or continue to serve our country well.

Thanks Mom!

May 10, 2013

CNCS Infogram

“Thanks Mom!” is a common phrase yelled as kids run out of the front door of the house or jump out of the carpool mini-van to their sports practice, but how many times do we really take the time to thank our mothers for their love and support?  With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, we at Nevada Volunteers wanted to take a moment to thank mothers for their 24/7 support, constant unconditional love, and for being the little voice in the back of our heads when we know we should be doing something differently.

Mothers are incredible, balancing the needs of children and life from jobs to carpool to sporting events, and even volunteering.  We aren’t the only ones that think so either…

According to the Volunteering and Civic Life in America Report, in 2011, nearly 4 out every 10 working mother volunteered!  If some of the busiest Americans can find the time to give back, we think that the rest of us Americans can find the time too.  Not only are working mothers key to parent volunteerism (Dads, we aren’t counting you out!), but they are among the new volunteer epidemic of supporting youth organizations through fundraising, food services for those less fortunate, mentoring, tutoring and teaching.  So much support that over 40% of the time parents spend volunteering, is spent volunteering in an educational or supportive organization.  Absolutely amazing!

So this Mother’s Day, while a bouquet of flowers might be nice, why don’t you spend some quality time with your mom volunteering for her favorite cause?  We’re pretty sure she’d appreciate that more.  To find a volunteer opportunity near you, visit www.nevadavolunteers.org.

And, above all, give a heartfelt thank you to your mother for her constant juggling act and support at the same time!

Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service!

April 3, 2013

(Left to Right) Carol Sanders, Retta Verret, Helen Cole, Tara Ludlow, Mayor Ken Tedford, Faye McCarty, Michaele Atkinson, James Sanders and Henri Bronsogeest

(Left to Right) Carol Sanders, Retta Verret, Helen Cole, Tara Ludlow, Mayor Ken Tedford, Faye McCarty, Michaele Atkinson, James Sanders and Henri Bronsogeest

Recognizing the power of National Service, mayors across the nation will be coming together in these next couple weeks to celebrate the impact that National Service members are making in their communities.  Mayors will hold public events, issue proclamations, and share through different media sources their commitment to National Service.  Although the official day is April 9, 2013, Nevada started early in celebrating the instrumental National Service members in Fallon, Nevada today.

Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) members spent the morning hearing Mayor Tedford thank them for their service and commitment to the community of Fallon.  In 2012, RSVP members made a huge impact in the rural town.  They provided services that gifted Churchill County, $76,328 including:

  • 198 seniors received 136 hours of RSVP care law pro-bono legal assistance.
  • 294 hours of respite care services provided to 6 Fallon caregivers and family members.
  • 10 home bound seniors were provided 63 hours of companionship and supportive services in their homes.
  • 245 low-income seniors were assisted with RSVP services to help maintain them in their own homes by RSVP volunteers providing independent living services.
  • 34 senior volunteers gave 541 hours of their time in Churchill County to help others this year.
  • Approximately, 1,000 people were served 50,412 pounds of USDA Commodity Foods that were distributed by RSVP Volunteers.
  • 350 seniors received Farmer’s Market Coupons to redeem fresh fruits and vegetables.

Thank you to Mayor Ken Tedford for recognizing the amazing services National Service members provide to your city!  We are excited to share with you this next week how mayors throughout Nevada appreciate the role that National Service members have in their communities.

AmeriCorps Week 2013: The Start of Something Good!

March 18, 2013

After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Environmental Studies in the spring of 2010 and not wanting to just jump right into a career, Ben Nicklay looked for a way to gain experience in the field.  He searched through numerous AmeriCorps positions and found an opportunity to serve through the Great Basin Institute Nevada Conservation Corps that would allow him to travel and work in the unique outdoors of Nevada.

Ben became an AmeriCorps*State member with the Nevada Conservation Corps and was put on a crew of about ten others outside of the Las Vegas office.  His crew consisted of people who had never camped before, people who had majored in English in college, to those who had worked in other conservation corps. Despite all of their differences, they bonded fairly quickly.  While on the crew, Ben helped build and maintain trails in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area.  It gave him pride in knowing that his hard work would last for years to come.  They worked on a variety of other projects around southern Nevada until spring including riparian restoration, habitat improvement, road decommissioning, and invasive species removal.

Ben_Nicklay

Ben’s favorite part of his service were the friendships that were formed and the personal growth that followed. It was a unique experience having to camp in the field while working and living with the same people four days at a time.

Ben learned the importance of working hard and creating quality work. It was his year in the AmeriCorps program that made these principles to live by.  He was part of creating a legacy that would last for years.

After his year of service, Ben stayed on with the Nevada Conservation Corps as a supervisor of a crew.  His experience was rewarded by enhancing the experience of a new group of volunteers by sharing my knowledge, skills, and passion with them.

In the fall, he decided to try a different side of conservation work and took a Great Basin Institute Research Associate position as a Restoration Specialist contracted to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  He was able to take the knowledge and skills he learned from my experiences in the Nevada Conservation Corps to use supervising the restoration work for all of Clark County, Nevada.  He  monitors old restoration sites and implements new projects in disturbed or destroyed habitats. He still gets to connect and share experiences with the Nevada Conservation Corps crews because they do the initial group work.

Ben is not quite sure he found his career, but he knows for sure that he has found his passion.  Doing conservation work and sharing his enthusiasm for it with others is very rewarding and he plans on staying in this line of work. Down the road he sees himself  focusing more on the larger picture and studying sustainability, water, food, and energy issues.

Through his year in AmeriCorps, he learned more about himself and gained so many new and relevant skills.  Some of the important things he learned the meaning of a great and inspiring leader, the value of physical labor, the importance of quality work, and the worth of good friends. The people he met and friendships he made will also continue to be great resources long into the future.

Ben’s advise if you were looking at joining National Service would be to allow yourself to grow and develop a deeper sense of self. Not only does joining National Service provide a great service to the people of this country, but it will most likely be one of the most rewarding things you will ever undertake in this life.

To find out for about AmeriCorps in Nevada, visit www.nevadavolunteers.org.

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