AmeriCorps Update

  • June 27, 2018

    Serve Colorado Completes Investigation Into Denver Public Schools 

    Serve Colorado has completed its review of the Denver Public Schools’ AmeriCorps program and has concluded that the program will be terminated immediately. Serve Colorado found that Denver Public Schools (DPS) did not operate the 2017-18 program in compliance with AmeriCorps grant requirements.

    AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs. Members commit their time to address critical community needs like increasing academic achievement and mentoring youth, etc. Members who successfully complete their term of service are eligible for an education award.

    The review indicated that Denver Public Schools enrolled paraprofessionals, math fellows, and teacher residents who engaged in efforts that supported math tutoring and student engagement and attendance in AmeriCorps. These were the permitted areas of service under the grant. However, Serve Colorado found that the school district’s enrolling of existing employees resulted in violations of the grant’s requirements regarding supplantation. Read the full Serve Colorado report. The investigation also showed instances of duplication and displacement of existing services and existing employees.

    In order to ensure that the DPS employees and teacher residents who were enrolled in the AmeriCorps program receive the tuition and loan assistance that they were promised at the beginning of the year, the school district is committing to reimburse from its general fund budget the same amount that these individuals would have earned with AmeriCorps.

    Do you have questions? Please read the FAQ below for more information.

  • What is AmeriCorps?

    AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs. Members commit their time to address critical community needs like increasing academic achievement and mentoring youth, etc. Members who successfully complete their term of service are eligible for an education award that can be used for higher education loans and tuition.

  • Which agency conducted the review and what was found?

    Serve Colorado conducted the review. The review found that Denver Public Schools (DPS) did not operate the 2017-18 program in full compliance with AmeriCorps grant requirements.

  • What is Serve Colorado?

    Housed in the Office of Lt. Governor Donna Lynne, Serve Colorado empowers community-based organizations to meet locally identified needs through national service and volunteerism. These include: AmeriCorps Colorado, the state agency of the national domestic service program; Colorado Reads, the state’s early literacy initiative; and Days of Service to promote volunteerism.

  • What were the compliance issues?

    Serve Colorado found that the school district’s enrolling of existing employees resulted in violations of the grant’s requirements regarding supplantation. The review also showed instances of duplication and displacement of existing services and existing employees. The Serve Colorado report explains these findings in further detail.

  • How many AmeriCorps members were impacted?

    There were 475 AmeriCorps members in the program in 2017-18 who are impacted.

  • What are the consequences for DPS as a result of this review by Serve Colorado?

    Serve Colorado has directed DPS to return all costs associated with the program to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers the AmeriCorps program. DPS received $200,000 to administer the grant in 2017-18 and will be returning those funds to CNCS.

  • What does this mean for current AmeriCorps members' employment and salary?

    Although DPS AmeriCorps members will not receive educational awards from AmeriCorps for the 2017-18 year, the members’ employment with DPS and the salary and benefits they receive as school district employees will not be affected. The district’s teacher residents will also continue to receive the living stipend from Denver Public Schools. The salary and benefits of the employees (e.g. paraprofessionals and math fellows) and the living stipends for the teacher residents have always been paid for out of the DPS general fund, not out of the AmeriCorps grant funds. Therefore, they are not impacted.

  • What does that mean for the members' Educational Award?

    In order to ensure that the DPS employees and teacher residents who were enrolled in the AmeriCorps program receive the tuition and loan assistance that they were promised at the beginning of the year, the school district is committing to reimburse from its general fund budget the same amount that these individuals would have earned with AmeriCorps.

  • Which DPS AmeriCorps members are eligible to receive tuition and loan assistance?

    All members will be notified regarding their eligibility to receive the tuition and loan reimbursement, similar to what they would have received if they had completed their AmeriCorps service. Members will have up to seven years to submit their evidence of higher education loans or tuition expenses in order to seek reimbursement up to the amount that they would have earned through their AmeriCorps membership in the 2017-18 school year. The amounts are $5,815 for full-time members (who would have completed 1,700 service hours if the program had not been suspended) or $2,907 for half-time members (who would have completed 900 hours of service).

  • Will these 475 members be considered alumni of the AmeriCorps program and/or able to list participation in AmeriCorps on their resumes?

    If members took part in AmeriCorps with DPS during the 2016-17 school year, they can list participation for that year only. AmeriCorps will not recognize DPS members for the 2017-18 school year. This does not affect the ability of DPS employees and teacher residents to list their employment or residency for this time period.

  • Will the program be offered for next year?

    DPS will not be able to offer membership in AmeriCorps next year to its employees or teacher residents.

  • What is DPS doing to address the findings in the report from Serve Colorado?

    In light of the findings from Serve Colorado, Denver Public Schools has taken steps to review and improve its procedures and processes related to grants administration and has engaged outside experts in financial systems to advise on improving grant administration audits and oversight. The district is implementing increased levels of grant oversight to ensure there is full compliance with all grants.