Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about being a RARE AmeriCorps community are listed below.

Who administers RARE, and how is it funded?

RARE AmeriCorps is an AmeriCorps program administered through the University of Oregon’s Institute for Policy Research and Engagement. RARE AmeriCorps has been supported over the years by grants from the Corporation for National & Community Service (AmeriCorps), The Ford Family Foundation, the University of Oregon, the Oregon Food Bank, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Oregon Department of Transportation, and other agencies. In addition, each participating community provides $23,500 of the approximately $29,600 needed to place, train, and support a full-time RARE AmeriCorps member.

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What organizations are eligible as host communities?

“RARE AmeriCorps Community” refers to the organization that sponsors a RARE AmeriCorps member. Eligible organizations include public agencies (including city, county, and regional governments); special districts (such as soil and water conservation districts, park and transportation districts); and not-for-profit organizations. Types of organizations include watershed councils, housing authorities, and economic development districts.

RARE AmeriCorps communities are organizations that have identified specific needs in underserved rural areas that can be addressed through the service of a RARE AmeriCorps member. No specific definition for rural fits all RARE AmeriCorps projects; what is most critical is that the project would not be done without the assistance of a RARE AmeriCorps member and that it serve an organization with limited capacity.

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What benefits does a host community or agency receive by participating in RARE?

RARE AmeriCorps host communities or agencies receive:
1. A RARE AmeriCorps member who will live in or near their community and provide 11 months (1,700 hours) of community service;
2. Support services from a team of six planning/policy analysts; and
3. Regular community site visits and evaluation by RARE AmeriCorps staff.

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What are the commitments of a host community or agency?

RARE AmeriCorps host communities or agencies provide:
1. A supervisor for the RARE AmeriCorps member;
2. A clear work program with specific project(s), tasks, and products for which the RARE AmeriCorps member will be responsible;
3. Adequate office space, including a desk, phone, computer and e-mail access; and
4. Reimbursement of job-related expenses, such as office supplies, postage costs, and travel (not including travel to RARE AmeriCorps-sponsored activities or trainings).

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What are the commitments of the RARE AmeriCorps member?

As an AmeriCorps program, RARE AmeriCorps members commit to 11 months (1,700 hours) of community service. Members are also required to attend periodic RARE AmeriCorps-sponsored trainings. Training hours usually comprise between 5 and 10% of the total service period.

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How much will it cost my community or agency to host a RARE AmeriCorps member?

Each participating community or agency provides a $23,500 cash match towards the approximately $29,600 needed to place, train, and support a full-time RARE AmeriCorps member. Communities are billed quarterly by the University of Oregon. The RARE AmeriCorps Program administers the member’s stipend, medical insurance, and educational award. The matching $23,500 must be confirmed before a placement is approved.

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How does the application and placement process work?

Community pre-applications for 2020-2021 are due in the RARE AmeriCorps office by 5:00 PM, April 17, 2020, for a placement to start September. If you submit a pre-application you will be required to meet with RARE AmeriCorps staff to assess the appropriateness of your application. Not all communities who submit pre-applications will be invited to submit a full application.

RARE AmeriCorps members will interview with three or more communities. These interviews will take place the week of July 13th. Once all placement decisions are finalized, the members will begin working in September. All placements are mutual decisions between the member, community supervisor, and RARE AmeriCorps staff. Not all communities and/or members who are invited to interview find a suitable placement.

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What if I won’t know about my funding until after the application is due?

We understand that some communities may not be able to commit funding until after the pre-application is due because of budgetary timelines. If this is the case, submit your community application by April 17, 2020 and indicate the earliest date at which you will be able to commit to the $23,500 matching funds. Matching funds must be identified before July 1, 2020.

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How will RARE AmeriCorps community applications be evaluated?

Applications that demonstrate a clear need for a RARE AmeriCorps member, a high probability of developing and implementing successful community projects, a community which is supportive of the placement, a qualified and committed supervisor appointed who will work with the member as a mentor, valuable learning experience, and a clear manageable work program are most likely to be invited to participate as RARE AmeriCorps communities and generate the greatest interest with members.

In addition, AmeriCorps has identified the following priority areas for 2020-2021: community capacity building, volunteer engagement, and partnering with community and faith-based organizations. While not required, applications that indicate that the member will be involved in one or more of these activities will receive special preference.

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What is the community supervisor’s role and responsibility?

The community supervisor can be a staff person, senior administrator, or volunteer board member. In an administrative role, the supervisor is responsible for approving timesheets, conducting performance reviews, and maintaining contact with RARE AmeriCorps staff on project progress. More importantly, the supervisor provides assistance, guidance, and feedback to the member during their term of service. The most successful placements are those in which the supervisor serves as a mentor to the RARE AmeriCorps member.

The time commitment of a supervisor could be upwards of five hours a week in the beginning of the RARE AmeriCorps member’s term of service. As the learning curve reduces for the members so will the time commitment of the supervisor.

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What kind of background and training do RARE AmeriCorps members have?

RARE AmeriCorps members have a variety of backgrounds and bring to their communities a wide-range of experiences. About one-third of RARE AmeriCorps members are Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, one-third are graduate students or recent graduates of planning, environmental science or related fields, and one-third are participating in RARE AmeriCorps to clarify their graduate school goals. Prior to placement, members attend an orientation and training that provides them with basic skills needed for a successful placement. In addition, members attend trainings and meetings throughout the year to increase their skills and to share their experiences.

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What technical support does RARE AmeriCorps provide?

RARE AmeriCorps staff provides technical assistance and on-going supervision to members, including regular site visits. In addition, members have access to other faculty who work with the RARE AmeriCorps Program at the University of Oregon and provide technical advice and project support to members as needed.

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Who determines the members’ work program?

All communities submit a preliminary program as part of the full application process. Upon placement, the member and his/her supervisor work together to develop a more detailed work program based in part on the skills and interests of the member. RARE AmeriCorps staff also reviews and help refine members’ work programs.

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What about housing?

Members in the RARE AmeriCorps Program are responsible for finding housing. As much as possible, the community sponsor should assist by providing local housing leads and contacts. Availability and affordability of housing is often a key factor in member’s preference for a RARE AmeriCorps placement.

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What if I have more questions?

For more information, please contact us at:

RARE AmeriCorps Opportunities
1209 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR
Phone (541) 346-2879
Fax (541) 346-2040