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  1. #1

    angry Do Not Join AmeriCorps

    For all you young idealists out there who want to go "make a difference" and "change the world" go right ahead, but don't do it with AmeriCorps. The last year I have spent with this organization has been pure h-e-double hockey sticks...

    AmeriCorps seems great at first. An education award ($4725), and a living stipend ($10,600) seems like enough to get by on. It isn't.

    1. The Education award is taxable, and that's even if you earn it. Only about 50% of my class will actually be finishing their 1700 in order to earn their award. This is because the program is set up to have you finish in August when everyone else is applying and getting new jobs in May.

    2. $10,600 averages out to about 2$ an hour. There are many other fulfilling organiztions you can go work for that will pay you a real salary.

    3. AmeriCorps lied to me and just about everyone I know about what our actuall job assignments would be. My time this year that I thought would be spent mostly tutoring has instead been spent checkin my email constantly and mastering Sudoku.

    4. For anyone out there who write this off as a cynical rant you can politely go F^%*( yourself. AmeriCorps sucks, ask anyone.

    I hope this will help some of you make better career decisions.

    Thank you for your time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    The Oregon Trail
    Posts
    42,345
    I did a non-AmeriCorps volunteer program, but had reciprocity for AmeriCorps educational awards...that is, some of our work was eligible for the ed award via AmeriCorps though my program was unrelated to AmeriCorps. I have to say that in my limited dealings with AmeriCorps, I was unimpressed.

    There are a lot of good volunteer programs, but most people know AmeriCorps, because it's the domestic program that gets the most press. Just like with anything else, if you want to spend a year or two doing the stipended volunteer thing, do your homework and weigh your options. Don't sign up for anything without researching and knowing what you're doing. I recommend really weighing options, there are TONS of organizations you could go with.

    I personally had a GREAT volunteer experience, no complaints, here. But I know others who didn't. Sometimes because their expectations just didn't match reality, some because they were actually misled...it's hard to say.

    One thing I'd note, though, is that if there is a discrepancy in your placement's job description, and what you actually DO, the problem may well be with the placement that contracts through AmeriCorps, and not AmeriCorps itself...in which case, AmeriCorps ought to be screening their placements better to ensure that volunteers don't sign up and waste their time.

    As for the money thing...sorry, but that's just kind of the breaks. That's why it's as volunteer program and not a salaried job...you know going in that if you were a salaried employee, you'd be making a lot more, duh. But you're not, you're a volunteer. For the most part, programs like that exist for the benefit of nonprofit agencies that don't have the budget to pay a salary, but may have the means to front a stipend for a year-long full-tiime volunteer. Of course, you can take any volunteer position and find a job doing something similar that pays more. That's not really the point. People don't typically do volunteer stints for the money, obviously. Although they can often lead to paid positions (mine did).

    I did fine on a stipend, myself...it's not much, but it was sufficient to live on. I never suffered, I never went hungry. My org also provided room and board. Shop around.

    Just a semi-related perspective.
    "Even when I've f*&%ed up, I've spun it into a learning experience that's brought me to bigger and better things."

  3. #3
    lonestar Guest
    I don't understand...how do they make it hard to qualify for the educational reduction? I am not doubting, just curious. I don't know much about Americorps...did my vol through NPS.

  4. #4

    post Just an opinion

    Your point is well taken. There are wonderful agencies out there that desperatley need intelligent and enthusiastic volunteers. I am obviously jaded from my personal experience, and only meant to be one voice out there to tell others that should they work for a non-profit cause, AmeriCorps may not be the best way to go. The management is incompetent and with all the amazing people I have worked with it seems like our year could have been used so much more effectively.

  5. #5

    Educational Award

    In terms of the education award, All i was stating was for such a small amount of money it is a shame that the government still takes taxes on it. In the future I wish they would change it to a non-taxable award.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    The Oregon Trail
    Posts
    42,345
    I THINK (and I may be wrong), that the poster is saying that you have to fulfill your year to get the full award...and a lot of people prefer to leave earlier to beat the recent grads at job searches.
    "Even when I've f*&%ed up, I've spun it into a learning experience that's brought me to bigger and better things."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    The Oregon Trail
    Posts
    42,345
    I agree with you, mishandling of volunteers is pretty frustrating...they're a great resource for a lot of orgs, and some totally squander them.

    I also didn't like AmeriCorps' restrictions on what hours you could claim...if I held a (secular) tutoring program in a church, I couldn't claim the hours, because by virtue of being hosted by a church, it was "religious education." Right. The same program, if hosted, say, in a park district field house, was eligible to be claimed. What?
    "Even when I've f*&%ed up, I've spun it into a learning experience that's brought me to bigger and better things."

  8. #8

    Right...

    Wordsmith, you are exactly right. All I was saying was that the time to apply for/ take job offers is March-May. Most Americorps Programs start up around August which does not allow you time to finish all of your hours required to receive your award. On top of which i had a terribly shady AmeriCorps Manager who would try to say that if we didn't stay the full 12 months we wouldn't receive our Ed. Award, even if we completed 1700 hours.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    The Oregon Trail
    Posts
    42,345
    Mine is also run August to August, and you're expected to commit to a full year. Obviously nobody can MAKE you stay, but you do apply under the auspices of devoting a full year.
    "Even when I've f*&%ed up, I've spun it into a learning experience that's brought me to bigger and better things."

  10. #10
    lonestar Guest
    But companies don't only hire in march-to-may...I found my first job out of college in November...so you can just as easily wait it out for the full year...It does suck that they tax it, but that's uncle sam for you...besides your volunteer program keeps you in the 15% tax bracket so you are only looking at about $700 in taxes.
    Last edited by lonestar; 05-09-2006 at 03:47 PM.

  11. #11

    Programs

    Lonestar, you are right that every company does not hire in march-may, but many people who work for AmeriCorps apply for other service programs after their americorps year, for instance I applied for an alternative route teaching program that I was accepted to in NYC, and I have to leave early in order to be able to do this program. Many of my Co-workers were/are in this same position.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Blue State
    Posts
    211
    I completed an Americorps term of service about 5-6 years ago. These program has already been discussed in several previous posts and threads; if you look at my posting history, you can see what I wrote about it in the past.

    Alot of Americorps participants have second jobs to supplement the living stipend.

    I too was upset that I had to pay taxes on my education award. I had to borrow money from my parents to pay the income tax. However, the education award was a really great help because my student loans weren't as big of a burden in the next few years.

    I worked hard, yet felt that alot of my efforts were a waste of time. I had to spend alot of time filling out paperwork for my Americorps supervisor. Every week I had to describe how I met each of five key objectives. I B.S.'d alot regarding this. My service site supervisor was supposed to complete some paperwork as well; however, she passed it off to me and I got her to sign it when I was done. I felt that alot of my service projects didn't really accomplish anything.

    I felt that I jumped through alot of unnecessary hoops during my term of service; however, the corporate world is like this as well. In many ways, Americorps did prepare me for a real job. I basically graduated from college without alot of things to put on my resume, and this gave me something else to have on the resume. Also, I completed my term of service on Labor Day weekend of that year and by the third weekend of September I had another, full-time office job. I had been trying to awhile to get hired on at the employer in question after my Americorps service, and it turned out that my site supervisor for the Americoprs gig was good friends of the wife of the owner of the business, so I had a great reference in hand when I went to interview for that particular office job. So it was a good networking opportunity, if nothing else.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Blue State
    Posts
    211
    Quote Originally Posted by AmeriCorpsSucks



    4. For anyone out there who write this off as a cynical rant you can politely go F^%*( yourself. AmeriCorps sucks, ask anyone.


    Thank you for your time.
    Sorry, but no thanks. I am a former Americorps participant who now works for a Fortune 500 company, so I know firsthand that that corporate world is like this as well.

    Per my previious post above, I came across alot of things that I didn't like when I was in Americorps. However, this is part of being an adult, and dealing with it is a good way to learn how to grow up.

  14. #14
    lonestar Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by AmeriCorpsSucks
    Lonestar, you are right that every company does not hire in march-may, but many people who work for AmeriCorps apply for other service programs after their americorps year, for instance I applied for an alternative route teaching program that I was accepted to in NYC, and I have to leave early in order to be able to do this program. Many of my Co-workers were/are in this same position.
    sorry..didn't realize.

  15. #15
    Kitty Guest
    I've always thought that they exploited young people just out of college who want to do good.

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