The Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service (Volunteer Iowa), now a part of the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is pleased to announce a Request for Applications for Iowa AmeriCorps State programs to operate in 2024-2025.

What is AmeriCorps State?

Iowa AmeriCorps State is a national service program that involves individuals (“members”) providing service to address critical needs in their communities. AmeriCorps members also mobilize community volunteers and strengthen the capacity of the organizations they serve. In exchange for a term of service, members typically receive a living allowance and other benefits from the sponsor organization while serving. Upon successful completion of their service, members earn an education award to help pay for education costs at qualified institutions of higher education, to pay for educational training, or to repay qualified student loans. Individuals may serve in AmeriCorps from age 17 and up.

Iowa AmeriCorps State engages the energy and idealism of the citizens of Iowa in meeting the most vital education, economic opportunity, health, environmental, disaster preparedness, public safety, and veterans’ needs in our communities. Iowa’s AmeriCorps State portfolio currently consists of over 20 programs with more than 800 members serving in full- or part- time positions. These programs operate throughout the state to address critical community needs.

Funding Priorities for 2024-2025

For the 2024-2025 application process, Volunteer Iowa particularly seeks programs that address the following priorities, drawn from Iowa's State Service Plan:

  • Programs that are part of or utilize a comprehensive community strategy.
  • Programs or strategies that engage underrepresented populations and those that provide a high return on investment.
  • Programs in geographic areas that are underserved or have the highest need.
  • Programs that address disparities in rural communities or with minorities.
  • New service opportunities to develop community capital in the following areas:
    • State legislative & national service focus areas
    • Governor’s priority areas such as Future Ready Iowa, supporting Iowa’s energy plan, childcare and enrichment, digital literacy and education

AmeriCorps, the federal agency that oversees all AmeriCorps programs, has established the following funding priorities for this competition:

  • Organizations leading service in communities with concentrated poverty, rural communities, tribal communities, and those organizations serving historically underrepresented and underserved individuals, including but not limited to communities of color, immigrants and refugees, people with disabilities, people who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, people with arrest and/or conviction records, and religious minorities;
  • Evidence-based interventions on the AmeriCorps Evidence Exchange that are assessed as having Moderate or Strong evidence. Please note that many of these interventions have demonstrated effectiveness in improving outcomes for individuals living in underserved communities and that the agency has committed resources to supporting grantees seeking to replicate and evaluate these interventions in similar communities;
  • Veterans and Military Families, Caregivers, and Survivors – a program model that improves the quality of life of veterans and improves the well-being of military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors;
  • Faith-based organizations;
  • Programs that provide additional benefits to AmeriCorps members aimed at enhancing member experience and bolstering member recruitment and retention such as paying more than the minimum living allowance, transportation, housing, food, etc.;
  • Programs that create workforce pathways for AmeriCorps members, including deliberate training, certifications, and hiring preferences or support;
  • Environmental Stewardship, including supporting communities to become more resilient through measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve land and water, increase renewable energy use and improve at-risk ecosystems, especially in underserved households and communities;
  • Community-based programs that enhance and expand services to second chance youth and/or engage those youth as AmeriCorps members;
  • Programs that support civic bridgebuilding programs and projects to reduce polarization and community divisions; and providing training in civic bridgebuilding skills and techniques to AmeriCorps members;
  • Programs focused on implementing or expanding access to high-quality early learning and those that prepare AmeriCorps members to enter early learning careers.

Application Materials

Applicants for this funding will need to reference the complete application materials posted to the AmeriCorps State grants page of the Volunteer Iowa website. Applications will be accepted only from organizations seeking funding to operate a program wholly within the state of Iowa (multi-state applicants apply directly to the Corporation for National and Community Service). Multi-state AmeriCorps National Direct applicants that intend to place members in Iowa must consult with Volunteer Iowa regarding these intended placements using the process and link provided in the RFA.

Key Dates & Deadline

Deadlines for submission of the required Pre-Application and Final Application are listed below. Please note that several other listed dates (marked with *) are anticipated dates only and may be updated throughout the grant application and review period. Check the AmeriCorps State grants page and sign up for the mailing list to be informed of changes to this timeline.

  • Funding Opportunity Announcement, Request for Applications, & Application Instructions Published: 9/22/2023
  • Pre-Application Deadlines: 10/6/2023 (current grantees); 1/19/2024 (new applicants)
  • Final Competitive Application Deadlines: 11/17/2023 (Competitive & Public Health AmeriCorps Continuation); 1/26/2024 (current Formula grantees); 3/8/2024 (new Formula applicants)
  • Funding Announcement: 4/2024-5/2024* (anticipated)
  • Program Start Date: 8/1/2024, 9/1/2024, or 1/1/2025 (applicant chooses from these start dates)

Who is eligible to apply?

This competition is open to all eligible applicants, both those that are new to AmeriCorps and those who are current AmeriCorps State and National program sponsors. Nonprofits, local governments, state agencies, educational institutions, and Indian Tribes are eligible to apply for an Iowa AmeriCorps State program. Eligible nonprofits include those recognized as nonprofit corporations through the state of Iowa, those with 501(c)3 status, and those with 501(c)4 and 501(c)6 status that do not engage in lobbying activities (as defined under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995).

What types of grants are available?

Volunteer Iowa funds several types of operating grants for AmeriCorps programs and planning grants. AmeriCorps grants engage at least eight (8) full-time equivalent AmeriCorps members and may utilize one of two funding mechanisms: cost reimbursement programs that cover budgeted AmeriCorps program costs on a reimbursement basis and fixed-amount grants that provide funds based on a per-member award that is earned as members are enrolled and complete their service terms. AmeriCorps State planning grants do not provide AmeriCorps member funding but instead provide organizations with funds to pay for the staff/consultant time needed to develop plans for and prepare to launch an AmeriCorps program.

Grant Size & Matching Requirements

AmeriCorps grants vary greatly in award amount, but all operational grants include limits on the maximum amount of funding that can be awarded per member, up to $27,000/full-time member for grants.

No matter the funding level or grant type, substantial cash and in-kind match is required from the applicant. Most programs must match at least 24% of the total budget during each of the first three years of funding, with match requirements increasing incrementally after year three.

What are the responsibilities of operating an Iowa AmeriCorps State program?

  • Designating adequate staff time to run the program
  • Recruiting, selecting, placing, onboarding, supervising, and providing professional development to AmeriCorps members
  • Managing HR needs of AmeriCorps members, including National Service Criminal History checks, payroll, benefits, timekeeping, and evaluations
  • Selecting and supporting AmeriCorps member service sites and supervisors
  • Submitting start-up forms, progress reports, expenditure reports, semi-annual federal financial reports, and other reporting as instructed
  • Participating in monthly program staff calls, annual program staff training, additional annual training for new program staff, and national service training
  • Engaging community volunteers in the AmeriCorps program and supporting Volunteer Iowa statewide initiatives

What is the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service, or Volunteer Iowa?

Volunteer Iowa is the state service commission for the state of Iowa and administers Iowa AmeriCorps State grants. Volunteer Iowa strives create an Iowa where all citizens are empowered through service to meet community challenges and make lives better. Volunteer Iowa works to fulfill this vision by funding and supporting programs, projects, and activities focused on service and volunteerism. These include AmeriCorps State, the Volunteer Generation Fund, the Volunteer Iowa AmeriCorps VISTA program, and Iowa MENTOR (the Iowa Mentoring Partnership).

Volunteer Iowa partners with the AmeriCorps federal agency (also known as the Corporation for National and Community Service or CNCS) to fund and administer Iowa AmeriCorps State programs. Established in 1993, AmeriCorps engages more than a million Americans each year in service to their communities by providing a way to solve community problems. The federal AmeriCorps agency plays a crucial role supporting the American culture of citizenship, service, and responsibility. AmeriCorps has three primary national service initiatives: AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps Seniors, and the Volunteer Generation Fund.

Disclosure: Publication of this Funding Opportunity Announcement does not obligate Volunteer Iowa or AmeriCorps (the Corporation for National and Community Service or CNCS) to award any specific number of grants or to obligate any particular amount of funding. The actual level and timing of grant funding will be subject to the availability of annual federal appropriations