Frequently Asked Questions

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AmeriCorps 
What is AmeriCorps?
The mission of AmeriCorps is to provide opportunities for citizens of all ages to help improve the nation through service to communities - making our environment cleaner, our children healthier, our schools better and our streets safer. Learn more at www.NationalService.gov.  For AmeriCorps FAQ’s, visit AmeriCorps FAQ’s: http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/americorps-faqs
How does AmeriCorps programming fit into The Service Collaborative of WNY?
TSC receives funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service and the New York State Commission on National and Community Service.  This funding allows programs like ABLE, Opportunity Corps, Serve New York VISTA to operate in WNY and across New York State.
Does AmeriCorps offer child care?
The AmeriCorps Child Care Benefit Program is available for qualified, active, full-time AmeriCorps State and National, VISTA members who need the benefit to serve. Child care benefits are paid directly to qualified child care providers for all or of part of the member’s child care costs during their active time of service; child care benefit payments cannot be paid directly to AmeriCorps members. The maximum amount of child care assistance a VISTA member can receive is up to $400 per child per month.
What benefits are there in joining/serving with an AmeriCorps program?
Individuals who join an AmeriCorps program, and successfully complete that term, will be eligible to receive an Eli Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.  The Education Award may be used to repay qualified student loans and to pay certain educational expenses costs at eligible institutions of higher education and training programs. You may use your education award to repay qualified student loans, to pay for current education expenses at eligible schools, or for both purposes. Individuals who are serving in a term of service in an approved AmeriCorps position may also be eligible to temporarily postpone the repayment of their qualified student loans through an action called loan forbearance. While your loan is in forbearance during your term of service, interest continues to accrue. However, If you successfully complete your term of service the National Service Trust will pay all or a portion of the interest that accrued on your qualified student loans during your service period. Under certain conditions, education awards can be transferred to specific family members. Briefly, the person who earned the award 1) must have been at least 55 years of age in an AmeriCorps State or National Program when he or she began the term of service and 2) must have begun the term of service on or after October 1, 2009.  The recipient of the award has to be the transferring individual’s child, stepchild, foster child, grandchild, or step-grandchild.
AmeriCorps Builds Lives through Education (ABLE)
What does a typical day look like?
Members are placed at various sites in public or charter schools in Buffalo. Members have the opportunity to be placed at a site serving K-12 students in various capacities including tutoring or co-teaching. Member duties are determined by a program description that is provided before a member makes a commitment to a host site.
Do I need to have a teaching background?
A teaching background is not required, but a desire to serve urban youth will help you maximize the impact.
Who is an ideal candidate for ABLE?
An ideal candidate for ABLE is a leader looking to gain a year of professional experience in an urban setting, serving the community, and making an impact in the third poorest city in the nation.
How are placements made?
ABLE has a three-step interview process. After receiving your application, qualified candidates are contacted by a staff member to participate in an in-person group or Skype interview. Selected candidates are invited to move forward in a phone interview featuring behavioral based questions to help determine fit and possible site placement. Those invited to move forward in the selection process will be interviewed by host site staff.
What is the service commitment to serve with ABLE?
ABLE terms of service start September 2nd, but we recruit year round. For a full-time term, the commitment is 12 months (at least 40 hours a week).
Can I have an outside job or attend school?
ABLE is a State and National Program, so ABLE members are able to have outside commitments as long as they do not interfere with their site-based requirement.
What kind of training do I receive?
ABLE members are required to attend ABLE orientation and monthly professional development trainings. In addition, members are required to attend site-based orientation and professional development training.
Will my term of service count towards my NYS certification hours?
The hours served at your site will not count towards certification, but select professional development trainings offered by ABLE and host sites can count.
Where do I live and is there relocation assistance?
ABLE members are encouraged to live within a reasonable distance from their host site. Our program does not have funds to offer financial relocation assistance but can connect members with helpful resources including connecting with other members who relocate. On average approximately 35-40% of ABLE members move to Buffalo to serve their term. For more information on living in Buffalo, visit this guide.
Do I wear a uniform?
ABLE provides uniforms for members to wear at their sites. Host sites may provide additional AmeriCorps gear.
Serve New York VISTA FAQ’s
What do VISTA members do?
AmeriCorps VISTA members serve full-time for a year in anti-poverty organizations and agencies throughout the nation, working on issues such as fighting illiteracy, improving health services, creating businesses, increasing housing opportunities, improving college access, and bridging the digital divide. VISTAs perform indirect service, which means they help build the capacity of organizations to deliver valuable direct services to people living in poverty. VISTAs typically create new programs, write grants, and recruit volunteers. For example, a VISTA could establish a tutoring program, recruit and train volunteers, and raise money for the program—but would not tutor the children.
What skills do I need?
We look for individuals to have a college degree, or equivalent work experience. Initiative, flexibility, sensitivity to working with diverse populations, and organizational skills are a must. You must be available to serve full-time for one year. Some positions may require more specific skill sets, such as database management or second language proficiency. Professional development training will be provided continuously throughout the year.
Where will I serve?
VISTAs can serve anywhere in the United States. Volunteer opportunities exist in big cities, rural towns, and everywhere in between. This is your opportunity to give back to your local neighborhood or to one on the other side of the country if you so choose. As a VISTA, you serve an organization focused on a specific project to help a low-income community. You have the option to apply to any location, project or area of focus you want. The choice is yours – we want passionate individuals who are ready to step up and serve the community. The Serve New York VISTA program has positions across New York State, in Buffalo, Rochester, the Finger Lakes, Ithaca, and White Plains.
What if I’m not from the area?
If you are moving more than 50 miles to serve as a VISTA, you are eligible to receive up to $550 to assist with your moving expenses.
What is the timeline for acceptance?
The timeline depends on several factors. First, VISTA applications are reviewed by the Serve New York program to see if you would be a good match for our program. From there, we would review the positions that you are interested in, and pass you along to a project site for a potential interview. If the project and you both agree that the VISTA position is a good match for you, then the State Office will review your application. Once everyone agrees, you will then be officially accepted and will receive information about your pre-service orientation (PSO).
How long can I serve?
You can serve as a VISTA member for up to five years. However, you can only earn up to the value of two education awards. If you earn full-value of two education awards and serve additional years, you must choose the cash stipend.
YouthBuild FAQs
Who do members serve?
ServiceCorps and YouthBuild members serve Low-income families/individuals, seniors and veterans. Members serve in team-based corps or individual placements at various organizations and agencies in the Greater Buffalo area.
What do members do?
ServiceCorps members receive extensive hands-on work experience, training, certifications and life skills development that will contribute in at least one of the four service areas of community revitalization, environmental conservation, hunger elimination, and volunteer recruitment and management. YouthBuild members work toward earning their GED in a classroom setting, two days a week. When they are not in the classroom, members serve Buffalo community in a team-based setting where they learn job skills, acquire extensive hands on construction training, under the mentorship of a site-supervisor, by building or renovating low-income housing, schools or other community facilities.
When do they serve?
Members serve full-time for one year.
Why do members serve?
Members serve because they want to improve their lives while providing service to the community. YouthBuild is an alternative education program that offers individuals ages 16-24 training and practical experience for "in-demand" industry careers through community revitalization projects, while also working to earn a GED certificate through the program. Most program participants have been in the juvenile justice system, are aging out of foster care, are high school dropouts, and/or are otherwise at-risk of failing to reach key educational milestones and opportunities that lead to career fulfillment.  They join the YouthBuild program because they are looking to transform their lives and roles in society.
How does the staff of The Service Collaborative support members?
Staff plans and provide opportunities for personal and professional development by offering training and certification courses. In addition, staff provides additional support to ensure members grow as civically-engaged youth leaders by providing leadership opportunities and other avenues for growth.