VISTA - Washington Campus Compact

National Service Criminal History Check

Under the Serve America Act (SAA), all grantees must conduct National Service Criminal History checks on participants and program employees in AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve, Foster Grandparent, Senior Companion and any other programs funded by the Corporation under National Service laws. All employees, participants, and others who receive a salary, national service education award, living allowance, or stipend under Corporation grants, even if the activities don’t involve service with vulnerable populations, must receive the checks prior to beginning employment or service. Summer of service awards are not considered national service education awards. For the RSVP and VISTA programs, grantees are not required to conduct criminal history checks on their volunteers; however, RSVP and VISTA grantees are required to conduct criminal history checks on all employees who receive part or all of their salary from the respective program grant. Regulations have been in effect since November 2007 requiring checks on individuals in recurring contact with a vulnerable population, and expanded requirements went into effect on October 1, 2009, establishing coverage of all employees and participants, including those without contact with a vulnerable population. Beginning in April 21, 2011, programs will also be required to conduct FBI background checks on covered individuals who will have recurring contact with vulnerable populations. The Corporation is currently working with the FBI to determine the most efficient and effective way for programs to obtain FBI criminal history information. Guidance offered below is regularly updated:

Drug Free Workplace

Member is required to sign a Drug Free Workplace Agreement.  In accordance with the Drug Free Workplace Act, the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of a controlled substance is prohibited by the Program. Alcohol and drug abuse adversely affects health, service performance, creates dangerous situations and serves to undermine the community’s confidence in the AmeriCorps program. Therefore, the Program prohibits illegal drug or alcohol abuse on the part of its Members. The Site Supervisor, Program Grant Manager and/or other administrative staff may require Members to submit to drug testing as a condition of selection or when there is reasonable suspicion of drug use. If an AmeriCorps Member is arrested for or convicted of a drug offense, the Member must notify their Site Supervisor and Grant Manager in writing within five days. The Program will take appropriate action including suspension and referral to a drug rehabilitation program, or release for cause consistent with the CNCS rules on termination and suspension of service.

Grievance Procedures

Civil Rights and Non Harassment Policy

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has zero tolerance for the harassment of any individual or group of individuals for any reason. CNCS is committed to treating all persons with dignity and respect. CNCS prohibits all forms of discrimination based upon race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, political affiliation, marital or parental status, or military service. All programs administered by, or receiving Federal financial assistance from CNCS, must be free from all forms of harassment. Whether in CNCS offices or campuses, in other service-related settings such as training sessions or Host Sites, or at service-related social events, such harassment is unacceptable. Any such harassment, if found, will result in immediate corrective action, up to and including removal or termination of any CNCS employee or volunteer. Recipients of Federal financial assistance, be they individuals, organizations, programs and/or projects are also subject to this zero tolerance policy. Where a violation is found, and subject to regulatory procedures, appropriate corrective action will be taken, up to and including termination of Federal financial assistance from all Federal sources.

Slurs and other verbal or physical conduct relating to an individual’s gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or any other basis constitute harassment when it has the purpose or effect of interfering with service performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive service environment.

Harassment includes, but is not limited to:

  • explicit or implicit demands for sexual favors
  • pressure for dates
  • deliberate touching, leaning over, or cornering
  • offensive teasing, jokes, remarks, or questions
  • letters, phone calls, or distribution or display of offensive materials
  • offensive looks or gestures
  • gender, racial, ethnic, or religious baiting
  • physical assaults or other threatening behavior
  • demeaning, debasing or abusive comments or actions that intimidate

CNCS does not tolerate harassment from anyone including persons of the same or different races, sexes, religions, or ethnic origins; or from a CNCS employee or supervisor; a project, or site employee or supervisor; a non-employee (e.g., client); a co-worker or service Member.

For more information, please visit the CNCS Website.

Prohibited Activities

AmeriCorps*VISTA members may not perform specific activities in the course of their duties, while charging time to the AmeriCorps program, nor at the request of anyone including NACHC or sponsoring organization staff.  Furthermore, members and staff may not engage in conduct that would associate the national program or the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) with prohibited activities.  Sponsoring organizations must become familiar with specific provisions described in the Corporation’s formal regulation (45 C.F.R. 2520.30) and the grant provisions.  Prohibited activities are summarized as follows:

  1. Performing services or duties that have been performed by or were assigned to any:
    1. Presently employed worker;
    2. Employee who recently resigned or was discharged;
    3. Employee who is subject to a reduction in force or who has recall rights pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement or applicable personnel procedures;
    4. Employee who is on leave (terminal, temporary, vacation, emergency or sick); or
    5. Employee who is on strike or is being locked out.
  2. At no time should a member be hired to perform any work for the project station even if it is unrelated to the member's service. Should a project station offer a full time job to a member during his or her service year, the project station will be responsible for the full cash match as per the contract (Memorandum of Understanding).
  3. VISTA member stipends cannot be supplemented nor modified monetarily.
  4. Participating in efforts to influence legislation, including state or local ballot initiatives, or lobbying for your program;
  5. Organizing a letter-writing campaign to congress;
  6. Engaging in partisan political activities, or other activities designed to influence the outcome of an election to any public office;
  7. Participating in, or endorsing, events or activities that are likely to include advocacy for or against political parties, political platforms, political candidates, proposed legislation, or elected officials;
  8. Voter registration drives;
  9. Organizing or participating in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes;
  10. Assisting, promoting, or deterring union organizing;
  11. Impairing existing contracts for services or collective bargaining agreements;
  12. Engage in religious instruction; conduct worship services; provide instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship; construct or operate facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship; maintain facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship; or engage in any form of religious proselytizing; or
  13. Providing a direct benefit to a for-profit entity, a labor union, a partisan political organization, or, in general, an organization engaged in the religious activities described in the preceding bullet.

AmeriCorps members, like other private citizens, may participate in the above listed activities on their own time, at their own expense, and at their own initiative.  However, AmeriCorps members may not wear AmeriCorps t-shirts or other service gear in such instances.

For more information, refer to the VISTA Member Handbook provided to each VISTA member at their Pre-Service Orientation.