Midwest Campus Compact Citizen-Scholar (M3C) Fellows Program
Frequently Asked Questions 1. Can we match this support with other forms of financial aid? Yes. In fact, campuses are encouraged to connect the $1,000 AmeriCorps education award with other forms of aid – particularly Federal Work Study community service placements (campuses are required to allocate 7 percent of their FWS resources to community service placements). 2. Can we connect this to other scholarship, community service, or civic engagement efforts on our campus? Yes. In fact, unless your campus has committed resources to a new program, you will be required to do so. Campus Compact will not provide program operating costs. Campuses are asked to identify where this support is needed, and where there is congruence with M3C’s objectives (i.e., to encourage civic engagement while bolstering retention of low-income and first generation college students). Some examples might be TRIO programs, service-learning courses, Federal Work Study community service placements, student service organizations, privately funded scholarship programs that encourage civic activity, etc. It is imperative that a local faculty or staff advisor be identified, and that this person is willing and able to meet regularly with the Fellows to provide encouragement, support, and guidance. 3. How many Fellowships can we request? There is no upper limit to the number of Fellowships that a campus can request. However, approval will be based in part on your capacity to support the cohort. A cohort must consist of at least seven students. 4. Can more than one program at a campus request these scholarships? For instance, if our community service office applies for one cohort, and our political science department applies for a another – can both applications be successful? Yes, it is conceivable that Campus Compact might support two or more distinct programs at one campus. 5. What kind of service will the Fellows be involved with? The type of service (i.e., tutoring/mentoring, environmental work, working to alleviate poverty, etc.) will be determined by individual campuses. However, due to federal restrictions, Fellows will not be able to earn credit toward the scholarship while engaged in political activity, unionizing efforts, religious proselytizing, efforts to influence legislation or the outcomes of an election, illegal activities, and a variety of other prohibited activities (the full list of prohibited activities is available on the Corporation for National and Community Service website: www.cns.gov). Note: By enrolling in this AmeriCorps program, Fellows are not giving up their citizenship. Therefore, they may be involved in these activities (hopefully not “illegal activities”); however, they cannot “credit” the time spent in these activities toward their scholarship.
6. Can our cohort be larger than seven? Yes. However, you must demonstrate a capacity to support the cohort when responding to the M3C Fellows Program Campus Application. 7. What do the Fellows have to do? Fellows will be responsible for performing at least 300 hours of community service within one calendar year. They must also recruit at least five colleagues to serve in non-profit (including faith-based) organizations to improve the well-being of their community. Fellows must also complete a self-paced online Citizenship and Civic Engagement seminar. 8. What do campus-based program coordinators have to do? The campus-based program coordinators will work directly with the cohort of Fellows on a regular basis. Coordinators are in charge of monitoring activity, verifying Fellow reports, and assisting Campus Compact staff with evaluation efforts. More details are provided in Appendix A of the M3C Application (“Stakeholder Roles and Responsibilities”). 9. Who will select the Fellows? Campuses are responsible for recruiting and selecting their cohort of Fellows. 10. Who will monitor the Fellows’ activities? Campus-based fellowship coordinators will monitor Fellows’ activities. Campus Compact staff will periodically visit campuses to provide technical assistance and monitor sites; however, campus-based program coordinators will be primarily responsible for providing direction and oversight to the cohort of Fellows at their respective campus. 11. Who is coordinating the M3C Fellows program? Nine Campus Compact state networks within Midwest region (IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, OH, & WI) will collectively coordinate the M3C Fellows program. Oversight of the AmeriCorps element of the M3C Fellows program will be coordinated by staff housed at Wisconsin Campus Compact at the University of WisconsinParkside (located in Kenosha, Wisconsin). 12. How long do M3C Fellows have to complete the 300 hours? Fellows must complete their service commitment within one calendar year (i.e., if they enroll in the program on September 30, 2005, they must complete their service obligation by September 29, 2006). In some special circumstances, we may be able to provide an extension. 13. How does Campus Compact define “low-income”?
While the Midwest Campus Compact does not provide an income threshold that defines “low income,” campuses are encouraged to consider recruitment processes and selection criteria that target students with demonstrable financial need and that are internally consistent with other need-based programs on campus. Campuses must define their target population within their application, and campuses that demonstrate an ability to reach students with significant financial need will be more likely to be selected to participate in the M3C Fellows Program. 14. Do all of our Fellows have to be low-income or first generation college students? Programs targeting primarily incoming college students (i.e., students either beginning their first year of college, or transferring from one school to another) that are first generation college students and/or low-income college students will be most competitive. A cohort does not need to be comprised exclusively of low-income and/or first generation college students. Vincent Tinto (2004) describes the need for creating a “safe space” for low-income students, but also warns against isolating students from other programs and students on campus, particularly if doing so marginalizes and/or stigmatizes students (Tinto’s paper is available online: http://www.pellinstitute.org/tinto/TintoOccasionalPaperRetention.pdf). The M3C Fellows Program is designed primarily for students in transition; however, in some cases cohorts comprised of other types of students may be considered (i.e., 2nd year students, students returning to college after an extended period of time, etc.). Applicants are encouraged to contact their state network for guidance on whether their proposed student cohort is acceptable. Campuses will be selected based in part on their ability to recruit, support, and retain students that are in the greatest need of financial support. 15. What campuses can apply to participate in the M3C Fellows Program? Any Campus Compact member campus located in the nine-state Midwestern region (IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, OH, WI) is eligible to apply. 16. Can students get credit for service performed before enrolling in the program? No. Students must first be enrolled in the M3C Fellows program before they can begin “logging” community service hours toward the education award. Students must first complete, submit, and receive acknowledgement from the regional office before they can officially log service hours toward completion of the program. 17. Will Campus Compact provide onsite operational support to our campus? While several state Campus Compact networks have distinct grant programs that could be pursued for operational support, the M3C Fellows program is not currently an avenue for operational support (i.e., supplies, staff salaries, etc.). However, Minnesota Campus Compact will award $1,000 for operating expenses to all successful MCC member institution applicants. The M3C Fellows program seeks to tap into infrastructures/programs that may already exist at member campuses. This program will support innovative, new or existing campus-based programs with scholarship funds; however, this is not a source of revenue for campuses seeking administrative/operational support.
18. Where do the education awards/scholarships come from? Campus Compact will provide education awards/scholarships through the National Service Trust fund (the M3C Fellows program is an AmeriCorps project). Education award/scholarship funds will not be disbursed to the schools, but rather directly to the students in the form of a voucher after they complete their term of service (300 hours). The vouchers can be used to fund current or future education expenses (for up to seven years after receiving the voucher), or they can be applied to existing student loans.
19. What will be our measure of success? One of our primary measures of success will be whether Fellows are retained at rates higher than those students that receive Pell grants on a respective campus. Other measurable outcomes of the program include a) the number of additional students/volunteers recruited by the Fellows, and b) the development of an appreciation and understanding of democratic ideals and citizenship, and the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors that lead to a lifelong commitment to active community and civic participation. 20. What if we are unable to submit our application by the deadline? Can we get an extension on this deadline, or will the Fellowships be made available at a later date? Fellowship sites will be selected on a competitive basis, and Campus Compact will continue to field applications until all the education awards that were allotted for the program have been allocated. We will review applications received after the initial deadline on a quarterly basis. 21. When can we begin implementing the M3C Fellows program on our campus? In most cases, campuses will begin enrolling M3C Fellows during the fall 2005 semester. The earliest a campus may be able to enroll fellows is the summer 2005; however, summer enrollment must be pre-approved by the respective state and the regional coordinating office. 22. Do M3C Fellows have to be full-time students? No. However, if a cohort is comprised of part-time students, it is important that these students be fully integrated into the program. It is particularly important that part-time and commuting students be provided flexible opportunities to connect with their colleagues. A part-time student should be embraced as a full member of the cohort. 23. If one of our Fellows quits mid-year, can we “refill” the position? No. Currently, the Corporation for National and Community Service does not allow programs to “refill” positions that are vacated by individuals during the course of their term of service. However, this policy is under review by the federal agency and may change in the future. 24. How long will this program last? What is the grant period? The Midwest Campus Compact Consortium anticipates the M3C Fellows Program will be funded for a period of at least three years. Participating campuses will be eligible to renew participation each year, pending successful renewal of the project at the regional level. Renewal at the individual campus level will be based in part on past performance.
25. Can fellows count the time spent doing the online seminar/participating in the annual retreat/training as part of their 300 hours?
Yes; however, no more than 20 percent (in our case, 60 hours) of the aggregate of all AmeriCorps member service hours in a program may be spent in education and training activities.