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AmeriCorps VISTA Supervisors Manual
Concept Paper and Criteria for Approval

The application review process begins with the applicant's submission of a project concept paper in eGrants, a web-based system in which project applications are submitted, assessed, approved or disapproved. In the concept paper, the applicant describes the community needs as they relate to the reduction of poverty and how the VISTA resource will be used.

A Corporation State Office staff person reviews the concept paper within ten workdays of receipt of an eGrants notification that the applicant has submitted its concept paper. The State Director has the authority to approve/disapprove the concept paper. The staff person enters the approval/disapproval in eGrants, and notifies the applicant via eGrants whether the application received approval.

Criteria for determining approval/disapproval are based on whether the proposed project:
  • Complies with the provisions of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, as amended; VISTA regulations; and VISTA policies
  • Addresses the needs of a low-income community
  • Leads to building organizational capacity so that the project can continue once the VISTA resources are withdrawn
  • Involves beneficiaries of the service and the low-income community in project development and implementation Is designed to generate public- or private-sector resources
  • Promotes local volunteer service
Further, criteria for determining approval/disapproval are based on whether the applicant:
  • Is a public-sector organization or a private organization designated as nonprofit by the Internal Revenue Service (An organization that has submitted to the IRS an application for nonprofit status may be considered, but its full VISTA application cannot be approved until it is designated)
  • Has resources available for VISTAs to perform their activities, such as space, supplies, and on-the-job transportation, and is able to provide emergency cash advances when needed
  • Has the capacity and commitment to recruit, train, supervise, and otherwise support VISTAs recruited locally and nationally
  • Understands and is committed to promoting national service
  • Is experienced in the issues relating to the beneficiaries of the service
  • Has the capacity to build community partnerships and collaborative efforts to achieve project self-sufficiency
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