Our foundation

Our mission: To improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering.

Our purpose: To bring out the best of America.

How we work: Every day in communities across the country, AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers work directly with national, regional or local nonprofit organizations to meet critical community needs.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility are foundational to the Strategic Plan.

AmeriCorps advances racial and economic equity by expanding economic opportunity for vulnerable populations. Racial and economic equity must be infused through our planning and implementation of all priorities.

AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors will reflect the diversity of the American people and the communities in which they serve. AmeriCorps programs should be designed for and structured to accommodate the inclusion of all Americans.

About our five-year Strategic Plan

To date we have defined goals and objectives reflecting the strategic outcomes AmeriCorps will pursue. We are now refining those objectives, including five-year performance targets and the strategies we’ll prioritize to achieve those targets.

What our plan is: Our plan provides clarity, direction, and focus on the strategic outcomes that AmeriCorps will prioritize resourcing and achieving over the next five years.

What our plan is not: Our plan is not a description of everything AmeriCorps does or supports. Meeting critical community needs may sometimes fall outside the scope of our strategic plan priorities.

AmeriCorps Strategic Plan 2021 Timeline

Goal 1

Partner with communities to advance racial equity and alleviate poverty

Explore Goal 1

Goal 2

Enhance the experience for AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers

Explore Goal 2

Goal 3

Unite Americans by bringing them together in service

Explore Goal 3

Goal 4

Effectively steward federal resources

Explore Goal 4

Goal 1

Partner with communities to advance racial equity and alleviate poverty

Objective 1.1: Mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and other public health crises
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated racial and economic disparities in communities across the country. Significant challenges remain and will worsen in the months and years to come, particularly in our hardest hit communities, many in greatest need prior to the pandemic.

Objective 1.2: Build resilience, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and adapt to the changing climate
Climate change including environmental, health, and economic impacts disproportionally damages low‐income and Black, Indigenous, People of Color communities. AmeriCorps can work towards environmental justice and ensure the most vulnerable are able to adapt to climate change. AmeriCorps can help mitigate climate change through broad investments, and measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserving land and water, and through targeted interventions that aid and empower low-income and BIPOC communities. This includes improving food systems, increasing disaster preparedness and resilience, and retrofitting homes to be more energy efficient and less disaster-prone.

Objective 1.3: Expand educational and economic opportunity
Supporting education and economic opportunity – including employment, financial literacy, and housing related services – can be an effective approach to reducing racial and other forms of inequity, and alleviating poverty. The relationship between education and poverty is very clear: educated people have higher income earning potential and are better able to improve their quality of life. Meanwhile, economic conditions such as having a job, low-cost and decent-quality housing, and access to government benefits can make a substantial contribution to increasing disposable income and preventing material deprivation.

Objective 1.4: Prioritize investment in the most underserved individuals and communities
Affirmatively advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity is the responsibility of the whole of government. Strategic investment of AmeriCorps resources in underserved communities can increase access opportunities for geographies and communities of populations to participate and benefit from national service, an important aspect of economic, social, and civic life, that may have been otherwise denied. The infusion of AmeriCorps resources will advance diversity, inclusion, and accessibility and contribute to the alleviation of inequity and poverty.

Objective 1.5: Recruit a diverse corps of members and volunteers who reflect those we are serving
Today, AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers reflect the racial diversity of the U.S. In nearly all 50 states, our corps has a greater percentage of people of color. However, we recognize that the communities we are focused on serving — those impacted by racial inequity and poverty — do not reflect the averages of the country or individual states. We value an alignment between those who serve coming from and/or reflecting the communities in which they serve. This alignment can bring greater cultural competence, understanding, and empathy to our members’ and volunteers’ service.

Goal 2

Enhance the experience for AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers

Objective 2.1: Modernize our member portal to improve the member/volunteer matching and management experience
Our current system is optimized for Internet Explorer, a browser that is accessed by less than 5% of users in the U.S. and will no longer be supported by Microsoft in June of 2022, and is not mobile friendly, which renders the system impractical for those who predominantly or exclusively access the internet on a mobile device. Beyond sub-optimal technology, the user journey through the system is confusing and cumbersome.

Only 15 percent of users complete the entire process, meanwhile the current system does not support the volunteers for our AmeriCorps Seniors programs at all. Because our system is built on antiquated technology, we are unable to make enhancements that add significant value to the platform or correct existing pain points in the application process. We will undertake a full modernization project of our member/volunteer management system.

Objective 2.2: Empower AmeriCorps members with the resources to thrive and complete their term of service, and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers with the resources to continue their service
AmeriCorps provides a range of benefits to members during their term of service. However, a recent analysis revealed that 18percent of AmeriCorps members do not complete their term due to “non-compelling circumstances”.

Successful completion of a member’s service term reinforces our triple bottom line: it benefits the community, the sponsoring organization, and the AmeriCorps member. Moreover, substantial post-service benefits (namely, the Segal Education Award) are contingent on successful completion of the member’s service term.

Objective 2.3: Strengthen pathways to education, employment, careers, and other opportunities
Preparing participants for opportunities after, or outside of their AmeriCorps service, enhances the overall service experience, increases engagement during service, and improves their lives after AmeriCorps.

Goal 3

Unite Americans by bringing them together in service

Objective 3.1: Increase awareness of AmeriCorps and favorability toward national service among the American public
We hypothesize that people who are aware of national service as an institution and understand that AmeriCorps is addressing our largest national challenges (racial equity, climate change, public health, economic opportunity). They will associate national service with national unity, and service to one’s country with serving in one’s community. This sentiment is similar to the patriotism the public feels toward military service. It’s widely regarded as a unifying institution which protects the U.S. from foreign threats.

Objective 3.2: Grow the number of AmeriCorps member and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer service opportunities
Over the past decade, the number of AmeriCorps service opportunities funded has decreased by more than 25 percent. The more people who can participate, from more communities across America, including communities of color and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty, discrimination, or inequality, the more people who will have the opportunity to share the common bond of AmeriCorps and service, and the more communities who will experience the benefits of engagement with national service.

Objective 3.3: Create a stronger, universal identity with AmeriCorps among members and volunteers
Unity and shared understanding starts with those who participate in AmeriCorps programs. Every year, AmeriCorps enrolls more than 270,000 individuals to serve as an AmeriCorps member or AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer. Their service experiences vary based on the organization they serve with and AmeriCorps program they join –State & National, VISTA, NCCC, Foster Grandparents, Senior Companion, and RSVP.. There is opportunity to create a stronger shared experience amongst AmeriCorps programs so that those who participate develop bonds transcending geography, time, focus area, and other variations across their service experiences.

Objective 3.4: Grow volunteering in America
Volunteering in pursuit of a common cause is one way to bring people together and build bridges. More Americans engaging locally and volunteering their time and talents alongside their neighbors will produce a stronger, more unified national spirit as well as address issues that are important to thriving communities.

There is an opportunity to tap into the “can-do” spirit of Americans. With our tools and national platform, we aim to provide Americans with volunteerism as an outlet for action. We will regularly engage in the national conversation by driving individuals to issue-based volunteer opportunities. Our promotion will culminate in an annual “Volunteering in America” research report.

Goal 4

Effectively steward federal resources

Objective 4.1: Modernize our grant management technology
We heard loud and clear from the organizations that with AmeriCorps the number one way we can support them is to update and improve the operational performance and user-friendliness of the technology platform – eGrants, a 20+ year old system – through which organizations apply for and administer grants. Additionally, AmeriCorps employees indicate that the antiquated system is a source of operational inefficiency and employee job dissatisfaction.

Objective 4.2: Simplify AmeriCorps’ application and administration procedures for grants and projects
The agency will create a realistic knowledge attainment expectation and workload for its frontline staff. Front line staff are most able to effectively steward federal resources when they can both provide outreach and technical assistance to grantees/partners/sponsors and implement agency grantmaking processes.. There must be balance. Right now it is heavily skewed towards grantmaking processes with limited time to do community outreach or provide technical assistance and training.

Objective 4.3: Make AmeriCorps one of the best and most equitable places to work in the federal government
Our agency can more effectively deliver on our mission and strategic goals if we attract and retain talented, satisfied, and motivated employees who reflect the population AmeriCorps primarily serves. AmeriCorps has identified key drivers of satisfaction including recognition and praise; clarity around expectations and purpose in completing work; good relationships with colleagues; manageable workloads; easy-to-use/access technology tools and information to do one’s job; transparent culture and values; management follow-through on initiatives; quality of leadership; and access to learning and career opportunities.

Objective 4.4: Ensure responsible management of financial resources
Ensuring responsible use and management of taxpayer dollars, pertaining both to how our agency administers those funds and how recipients use those funds is fundamental. AmeriCorps has identified three areas for strategic focus to ensure and strengthen responsible management of financial resources.

Our strategic goals and objectives reflect AmeriCorps’ latest thinking as of Nov. 10. Content is subject to change. For specific questions on the strategic plan, please email planning@cns.gov.

AmeriCorps’ Strategic Learning and Evidence Building Plan

The agency’s learning and evidence building plan (see current Strategic Evidence Plan) provides a roadmap for generating credible, relevant, and actionable information about organizational effectiveness, operational performance, and the outcomes of national service programs. The AmeriCorps learning agenda is designed to provide the agency’s senior leadership and staff with the information needed for strategic learning and decision making to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the agency and its programs.

Strategic Learning and Evidence Building Plan: Fiscal Years 2022-2026
Our learning and evidence building plan reflects AmeriCorps’ latest thinking as of Nov. 10. Content is subject to change. For specific questions on the learning agenda, please email evaluation@cns.gov.