Restrictions on CivicSpark Fellow Activities

CivicWell has contracted with AmeriCorps to implement CivicSpark as an AmeriCorps program. Fellows can only work on service outlined in performance measures approved by AmeriCorps. These performance measures define how CivicSpark will provide service to local governments and organizations by: conducting assessments; implementing planning, researching or implementing projects; engaging volunteers; and transferring knowledge to local government staff.  

  • Capacity Building for Local Governments – Fellows’ direct service hours should be spent building capacity for local government beneficiaries to address their resiliency needs as defined during the project startup. Fellows will address these needs by assisting the local government beneficiary to develop or implement projects that they would otherwise not be able to complete.
  • Volunteer Engagement – All Fellows should have the opportunity to build further capacity for local governments by engaging, recruiting, and supporting volunteers. Volunteers may be engaged as either one-time volunteers (e.g. – volunteers to assist for a specific event such as Earth Day or service activities) or as on-going volunteers such as interns).
  • Training and Professional Development for Fellows – Fellows can spend up to 20% of their service year (340 of their 1700 total hours) on training. Training includes the 1-week intensive orientation at the start of the service year, mid-year gathering, continued monthly trainings, and professional development and networking opportunities. Training hours ensure that Fellows have the training and tools they need to succeed in their sustainability work.

The majority of the work provided by CivicSpark to local governments via direct service only involves the first two measures (Capacity Building and Volunteer Engagement).  The third measure is predominantly met through training and professional development activities provided to the Fellows by CivicWell. Some activities that occur while working with local government beneficiaries or other project partners may be considered training and professional development, such as networking events and trainings conducted by or attended in partnership with the local government beneficiary.

Fundraising can be an allowable activity within an AmeriCorps program under federal guideline 45 CFR 2520.40-.45. Within California per CaliforniaVolunteers’ policy, Fellows may only perform fundraising activities as described in an approved Fundraising Performance Measure. CivicSpark does not have an approved Fundraising Performance Measure in California; therefore, our Fellows in California may not engage in fundraising activities. This includes fundraising for CivicWell, CivicSpark, project partners, or participating local governments. Note that this may change in the coming months.

Fellows in other states who can fundraise may not:

  1. Raise funds for living allowances or for an organization’s general (as opposed to project) operating expenses or endowment;
  2. Write a grant application to AmeriCorps or to any other Federal agency.

Prohibited activities:

Federal guidelines further restrict certain activities, which cannot be engaged in by CivicSpark Fellows or Supervisors while charging time to the AmeriCorps program, accumulating service or training hours, or otherwise performing activities supported by the AmeriCorps program. In addition to only working on contracted performance measure service activities, the following activities are prohibited (see 45 CFR § 2520.65):

  1. Attempting to influence legislation;
  2. Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes;
  3. Assisting, promoting, or deterring union organizing;
  4. Impairing existing contracts for services or collective bargaining agreements;
  5. Engaging in partisan political activities, or other activities designed to influence the outcome of an election to any public office;
  6. Participating in, or endorsing, events or activities that are likely to include advocacy for or against political parties, political platforms, political candidates, proposed legislation, or elected officials;
  7. Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization;
  8. Providing a direct benefit to—
    1. A business organized for profit;
    2. A labor union;
    3. A partisan political organization;
    4. A nonprofit organization that fails to comply with the restrictions contained in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 related to engaging in political activities or substantial amount of lobbying except that nothing in these provisions shall be construed to prevent participants from engaging in advocacy activities undertaken at their own initiative; and
    5. An organization engaged in the religious activities described in paragraph 3.g. above, unless CNCS assistance is not used to support those religious activities;
  9. Conducting a voter registration drive or using CNCS funds to conduct a voter registration drive;
  10. Providing abortion services or referrals for receipt of such services; and
  11. Such other activities as AmeriCorps may prohibit.

AmeriCorps members, like other private citizens, may participate in the above listed activities on their own time, at their own expense, and on their own initiative. However, the AmeriCorps logo must not be worn while doing so.

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