This week, America’s Service Commissions (ASC)—the independent association of state commissions on voluntary action and service—and ServeMinnesota — the Minnesota commission on volunteering and service — have announced the launch a new resource, the AmeriCorps State Program Replication Wiki.
The Kennedy Serve America Act, signed into law in April, offers the national service community an unprecedented opportunity to expand service at the local level and offer far more citizens a chance to serve in their communities. The Act also poses a huge challenge to national service programs — the opportunity to increase the number and size of individual corps without weakening the impact of service, or diluting support for corps members, host organizations, etc.
State service commissions—appointed by state governors and responsible for the bulk of AmeriCorps funds distribution and program oversight—bear a great deal of responsibility during this exhilarating and stressful time. One way to help states expand service opportunities is to offer commissions and national service programs a forum for replicating program models that work.
The purpose of the AmeriCorps State Replicaiton Wiki, therefore, is to assist state service commissions as they move to to assess their own state’s needs and then to replicate relevant AmeriCorps programs that have been successfully able to address similar needs elsewhere. Through the Wiki, ASC and ServeMinnesota aim to provide state service commissions with a vehicle for sharing lessons learned and best practices through already proven AmeriCorps programs.
Since a wiki is a website that is driven by user-generated content, like Wikipedia, by definition this wiki’s success depends on the support of the greater national service community to develop and expand its content. The success of the AmeriCorps State User Replication Wiki directly depends on commissions and other users to regularly share comments, questions, best practices, and lessons learned at the bottom of the relevant wiki page.
Here is a quick look at the ASC’s overview of how to successfully replicate other program models:
- Step 1: Assess State Needs and Clarify State Priorities
Assess state priority needs in light of new opportunities for expanded AmeriCorps programming.
- Step 2: Identify Issues and Determine which Type of Program to Replicate
Identify priority program issue areas (Health, Education, Clean Energy, etc) that your state has an interest in starting up, expanding or improving.
- Step 3: Review Program Models using the AmeriCorps State Program Replication Wiki
Review the Wiki’s listing of programs your fellow state commissions have identified and shared as having high replication potential. Think about adapting the “scale and scope” of existing program models for your state’s context, identify local champions, consider whether to replicate the model as a whole or to adapt specific features, and identify external funding sources.
- Step 4: Contact ASC
Contact ASC via Christy Venable (email) to help facilitate a connection with programs you would like to learn more about.
- Step 5: Peer Exchange and Creating Collective Knowledge
Engage in a peer exchange, which can range from conversations, to resource sharing, to on-the-ground site visits to see first-hand how a program model works in the field. Learn about a program’s start-up history, lessons learned, continuous improvement changes, key program management tools, as well as community support and funding strategies.
- Step 6: Share Knowledge
Voice your questions and share feedback within ASC’s online wiki community about your efforts to research and engage in AmeriCorps State program replication.
- Step 7: Best Practices
Share success stories on the benefits of peer exchange for implementing new programming in your state based on successful models supported by other state commissions.
Among the Wiki’s “Reviewing Replicable Programs” pages, 12 commissions have already submitted current AmeriCorps State programs that are good candidates for replication elsewhere.
Do you know of a model AmeriCorps program that others should pay attention to? I’d love to hear about it in a comment below, and also you’re encouraged to email the ASC’s Christy Venable at cvenable [at] asc-online.org.