Recognizing the role of philanthropy as an innovation partner to the public sector, the Schultz Family Foundation is launching the $1 Million National Service Challenge to support national service as a pathway of opportunity for all young people. The Foundation will offer matching grants of $100,000 to $250,000 to AmeriCorps state service commissions who are partnering with philanthropy to improve racial, ethnic, and income representation within AmeriCorps programs, and strengthen support for youth Corps members before, during, and after national service.
Download the Challenge overview
The application deadline has passed. If you have any questions about the Challenge, please send an e-mail with “National Service Challenge” in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
Use of Funds
What type of initiatives will be funded?
The Challenge will offer a 1:1 matching grant for state service commission-led initiatives that have been designed to meet the following goals:
- Increase the number of young people participating in AmeriCorps who are between the ages of 17 and 25 whose race and income reflect the composition of the communities being served.
- Address challenges in a community considered to have moderate or high levels of vulnerability according to the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index.
Are there any eligibility requirements?
Yes. To be eligible for the match, initiatives must:
- Be led by a state service commission.
- Engage multiple AmeriCorps sub-grantees across the state.
- Have a letter of commitment and/or grant agreement from the participating funder(s) for an amount equal to or more than the amount they are applying for from the Foundation.
- Include design elements that aim to increase the number and diversity of young people participating in AmeriCorps.
What are some examples of initiatives that may be of interest?
Initiatives that are eligible for the Challenge are those that support expanding national service as a pathway of opportunity for all young people given the opportunities and challenges within a community. Examples include: developing recruiting strategies with a youth orientation; a plus up of the AmeriCorps stipend; setting clear recruitment thresholds that represent the racial and income composition of the communities served; deploying an emergency assistance fund; developing an intentional transition strategy from service to school or career; and layering in opportunities for AmeriCorps members to earn a credential with value in the marketplace as part of the service year.
Are the initiatives required to be deployed during the 2021-2022 AmeriCorps cycle?
Can the funds be used to enhance the capacity of the state service commission?
No, the matching funds must be used to directly impact the programmatic work in the state.
Our initiative and programs will be focused on serving individuals whose vulnerability is defined by attributes other than geography. Should we still use the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index to determine if our initiative is addressing challenges in communities with moderate or high levels of vulnerability?
If the Social Vulnerability Index does not accurately depict the level of vulnerability in the populations you will serve, please share data or resources from another reputable institution that identifies the level of need in the communities and/or populations that will be served under your initiative.
Is there a minimum number of AmeriCorps sub-grantees that a state service commission needs to engage in order to be eligible for a Challenge grant?
An application must include the engagement of at least two AmeriCorps sub-grantees. Applications will be evaluated relative to the breadth and/or depth of their potential impact (e.g. number of nonprofits, members, regions, programs, etc. involved) and the quality of the initiatives proposed to increase racial, ethnic, and income representation and support national service as a pathway of opportunity for all young people. For more guidance on your application, please send an email with “National Service Challenge” in the subject line to email@example.com and we can discuss your initiative ideas in more detail.
We are considering an initiative that will work with multiple programs, but all of the programs fall under one organization. Does your requirement to engage multiple AmeriCorps sub-grantees refer to the number of programs or the number of organizations?
The eligibility requirement refers to the number of organizations you will engage through the initiative.
Are there any additional requirements of the state service commission or philanthropic partners?
Yes. Selected match recipients will be invited to participate in a learning collaborative that will meet quarterly to share insights and opportunities as we work together to expand opportunity within AmeriCorps.
Will travel be required as part of the learning collaborative?
During the course of the 2021-22 service year and based on current public health recommendations, the Foundation may bring the members of the learning collaborative together to network and share learnings. If it is determined that travel is required, the Foundation will underwrite those costs in addition to the match.
What kind of funds will be eligible for a match?
Public dollars are not qualified matching funds. State service commissions must have funds designated to the specified initiative from a private philanthropy, community foundation, or individual donor to be eligible for a match.
What level is the match?
This is a 1:1 match. State service commissions must have a letter of commitment and/or grant agreement from the participating philanthropy, community foundation, or individual donor for an amount equal to the amount they are applying for from the Foundation.
What documentation will be required for a match?
Applicants must submit a completed application, letter of intent and/or grant agreement from the philanthropic funder(s), IRS determination letter (if applicable), most recent audited financials, and current leadership team and board list (if applicable). To get more details, download the application and submission instructions at [insert URL].
Will submitted applications be evaluated based on the level of the match required?
No. State service commissions are welcome to apply for a match ranging from $100,000 to $250,000. Applications will be evaluated relative to the quality of the initiatives proposed to increase racial, ethnic, and income representation and support national service as a pathway of opportunity for all young people.
Who is eligible to apply?
State service commissions are eligible to apply for the matching grant. The grant will be made to the state service commission.
How can I apply?
Download the application and submission instructions at https://schultzfamilyfoundation.org/national-service-challenge/.
When will applications be due?
Application are due by 11:59 p.m. PT on Friday, July 30, 2021.
How will applications be evaluated?
Applications will be evaluated relative to the quality of the initiatives proposed to increase representation and support national service as a pathway of opportunity for all young people. The Foundation recognizes that philanthropic dollars can often be used to fuel innovations that are otherwise difficult to seed within an existing government program and encourage applicants to design initiatives that would be difficult to execute without philanthropic dollars.
Can we have more than one philanthropic partner committed as part of our total match request for the Challenge?
Yes. We welcome and encourage state service commissions to build relationships with more than one funder as part of this initiative. In your application, please include information about each of the philanthropic partners, the amount you are requesting from them, their grantmaking timeline, their letter of interest/intent/commitment, and the total amount you are requesting from the Foundation for Challenge matching funds.
We are currently exploring a relationship with a new funder for an initiative that aligns with the goals of the Challenge. However, our grant proposal with that funder will not be reviewed and decided upon until after the July 30th Challenge application deadline. Would we still be able to apply for the Challenge?
Yes. The Challenge is designed to encourage new relationships between state service commissions and funders, and we are cognizant of the fact that many funders’ grantmaking cycles will not align with our July 30th application deadline. In this circumstance, please include in your Challenge application a letter from the potential funder confirming their interest in your proposal to them, why they are interested in supporting your initiative, and a general timeline for their proposal decision.
Would commitments from businesses who provide in-kind support count towards the match funds that we would be applying for from the Challenge?
It depends on the in-kind support being provided and how that support fits into the broader initiative and with other philanthropic funding. Please send an email with “National Service Challenge” in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss your circumstances in more detail.
If there is a history of funding with a funder, would it be helpful to include that history in the letter from the philanthropy or to see previous grant agreements?
If you have an existing relationship with a funder, please feel free to include that information in your application, especially if your proposal with the funder is still pending. However, the Challenge is also designed to encourage new relationships between state service commissions and funders, so previous history with a funder is not required or necessary in order to be eligible for the Challenge.
Do the letters of commitment and/or grant agreements need to originate from the source of the funds and directly name the state commission, or can they name the state commission’s subgrantees that would be included in the initiative?
The letter(s) of interest/intent/commitment and/or grant agreement(s) should be written by the funder and should name the state service commission as the (potential) grantee.
Do the grants funds from our philanthropic partner(s) need to go directly to our state service commission, or can the philanthropy send the grant funds directly to the AmeriCorps sub-grantees in the initiative if the funds will ultimately be used by the sub-grantees?
The grant commitment should be between the philanthropic partner(s) and the state service commission, and the state service commission should be the organization overseeing and leading the initiative’s work. However, the philanthropic partner(s) can provide the funds directly to AmeriCorps sub-grantees when it comes time to distribute the funds. If you are planning to have your philanthropic partner’s funds distributed directly to AmeriCorps sub-grantees, please note that in your Challenge application and include context on why the funds will be distributed directly to sub-grantees.
Who should a philanthropy contact to connect with a state service commission they are interested in partnering with for the Challenge?
To learn more about state service commissions and who to contact, please reach out to Kaira Esgate, CEO of America’s Service Commissions at email@example.com.
Who can we contact if we have questions about the $1 Million National Service Challenge?
If you have any questions about the Challenge or the application process, please send an e-mail with “National Service Challenge” in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does the Schultz Family Foundation anticipate that this will be an annual competition or one-time funding?
Currently, we are anticipating the Challenge to be a one-time opportunity.
Why is the Foundation launching this Challenge?
In response to COVID-19, the Schultz Family Foundation, in partnership with Serve Washington and the Washington Department of Agriculture, launched the WA COVID Response Corps with AmeriCorps members working on projects across the state to alleviate food insecurity. This public-private partnership demonstrated the power of service to both address immediate community needs and expand equity and opportunity, especially among young people, in the communities in which it operates. We also believe service can and should be a critical component to our recovery from the pandemic. Given the impact of public-private partnerships to fuel innovations and accelerate where and how AmeriCorps is deployed in communities of greatest need, the Schultz Family Foundation is hoping to inspire others to adopt similar partnerships in their states.
 If the Social Vulnerability Index does not accurately depict the level of vulnerability in your community of service, please share data or resources from another reputable institution that identifies the level of need in your community due to COVID-19.