Natalie Banks of National Service Consulting is conducting a 12-question, anonymous survey with former AmeriCorps members to gather input on why members join, stay, and leave programs.
She wants to hear from former members of all AmeriCorps programs, including NCCC, State and National, VISTA, Tribes, Education Award, and Leaders, regardless of how long you served, or if you completed your term. She especially wants participation from people who terminated their service early. Results will help in developing materials that provide specific strategies for recruiting and retaining members based on their work style and approach to work. Another goal is to understand “why AmeriCorps members leave” so that programs can better address these issues. The deadline to take the survey is June 1.
She hopes the survey results will be published for all to see (though the survey responses will be kept on a password-protected computer).
Questions focus on why you joined AmeriCorps, what made you leave early (if you did) or what would have made you leave early (if you completed your term), and how programs can recruit and select new members better, offering a more realistic sense of what the term would really be like.
I took the survey and recommended that every AmeriCorps member have a team leader who acts as an ally to the member, who’s trained as a coach and who can help mediate conflicts. Some programs have leaders, and I’ve seen first hand that good leaders can play a crucial role in listening to members and helping them brainstorm creative solutions to issues as they come up, before they’ve made the decision to quit.
Host site supervisors also need support, especially new supervisors, through mentoring from more experienced supervisors, and regular check-ins with program directors and/or team leaders. And everyone — program directors, leaders, members, and supervisors — should have basic conflict resolution training and practice.
My final recommendation is that prospective members fill out a sample budget worksheet — similar to the one my husband and I filled out before buying our house. Living on a stipend is challenging, and applicants should be supported in taking a hard look at their own numbers before committing to the term. (Applicants wouldn’t have to share their budget worksheets with anyone else.)