Reminder from the Corporation’s General Counsel

In this time of hyper advocacy for national service, the General Counsel for the Corporation for National and Community Service gently reminds Corporation-supported grantees, corps members, and sponsoring organizations what not to do.

In a memo issued March 2nd, Frank R. Trinity urges national service folks to:

  1. not attempt to influence legislation and
  2. not participate in, or endorse, political events or activities

while “charging time to a Corporation-supported program, accumulating service or training hours” towards an Eli Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, or “otherwise performing activities supported by the Corporation.”

This list of things to avoid continues. National service grantees, members, and host sites must:

  • Not give the impression that national and community service staff or participants are engaging in political activities in those capacities.
  • Be careful to document that any lobbying that your organization does is outside the scope of Corporation-funded work. Separate accounting for costs is “crucial.”
  • Not wear AmeriCorps-branded clothing, bags, hats, etc. while participating in a political event. Wearing the logo may give people the idea that AmeriCorps supports political activities.
  • Not sign public petitions using the name of your AmeriCorps program, but rather use your organizational name or your own name.
  • Not allow people running for public office to use your AmeriCorps program events for photo opps.

“It is paramount that AmeriCorps and all of our national and community service programs proceed with utmost care to avoid perceptions that Federal resources are being misdirected to political activities.”

Some things you can do include: educating your community about your program and persuade them to support your service; provide factual, technical presentations to legislators who visit your program; visit legislators in Washington on your own dime; lobby on time not charged to your Corporation grant. See the details of the memo for more answers to Frequently Asked Questions (PDF).

One thought on “Reminder from the Corporation’s General Counsel

  1. Pingback: Nervous Calling Your Senator re: Serve America Act? « The New Service

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