Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.
The Americorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC)
The Americorps National Civilian Community Corps, or the NCCC, as I will refer to it in the rest of this article, is a volunteer program specifically designed for teens and young adults ages 18 to 24. The goal of the program is "to strengthen communities and develop leaders through team-based national and community service." It is the U.S. domestic partner to the Peace Corps, and it's similar to the Americorps Vista Volunteers program, but it's geared toward youth who may or may not have a college education.
In fact, it is possible to join NCCC right out of high school, as long as a person is 18 years old when applying. This makes it the perfect plan for someone graduating from high school who is not sure what their next step should be. Or, if a person applies and does not have their high school diploma, they are still eligible for the NCCC and will have help getting their GED while serving.
About the NCCC
The program is a ten-month, full-time, team-based residential program for young men and women ages 18 through 24. Although it is volunteer-based, some benefits go along with volunteering for this program, specifically:
- Free room and board
- A small living allowance
- Health coverage during the ten-month period
- Student loan deferment for those joining after college
- Disaster first aid, public safety, and CPR training
- Uniforms and gear
- An end-of-the-program Segal Americorps Education Award of $5,550 to be used toward further education, which some colleges will match or at least partially match for those who have completed their ten-month commitment.
How Does It Differ From Americorps Vista?
The program is different from the Americorps Vista program in four ways:
- You don't need a college education and can do it right out of high school.
- Instead of needing to find your own apartment and buying your own food, you are given free room and board at one of 5 national NCCC campuses, each one housing 200 volunteers.
- It is only a 10-month commitment instead of 12 months.
- You do not choose what part of the country in which you will serve.
What It's Like to Join the NCCC
Once signed on and approved, you will be sent to an NCCC campus. You do not get to choose which campus you will be assigned to but are sent randomly to whichever campus has space at the time you apply. NCCC campuses are located in the following communities:
- Denver, Colorado
- Sacramento, California
- Perry Point, Maryland
- Vicksburg, Mississippi
- Vinton, Iowa
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There will be a total of 200 NCCC volunteers living on each campus. Groups of 10–12 volunteers at a time will be sent across the country to serve in what is called a "spike," and the group will stay there anywhere from 1 week to 3 months and then return to the campus when their work is done.
Sometimes the accommodations during the spike are in a hotel or a youth hostel; other times, it may be a cot in a gymnasium. The spikes may be responses to communities in need due to natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods. Or it may be in response to a community request for help with building homes for the poor, cleaning up parks and trails, or teaching young children how to read.
The Application Process
To apply, you need to go to the NCCC website (see below) and fill out an application. The application process takes approximately two months from when you apply till when you find out whether or not you are accepted. The process includes a 30- to 45-minute phone interview. You may be accepted but then put on a waiting list. There are two annual deadlines: the fall deadline is April 1st, and the winter deadline is July 1st. The program is drug-free, so drug testing is included.
The National Civilian Community Corps, as well as the Americorps Vista Volunteer program, are both experiences of a lifetime, so if you are looking to make a difference in the lives of others, it may be just the experience you are looking for.
To learn more about the NCCC program, or to apply, go to its website.
Read About More Opportunities for Young Adults After High School
- Job Corps: Career Training for Teens and Young Adults
Job Corps is a great next step after high school. Job Corps provides free vocational training with free room and board included. Find out more about this vocational training program for young adults ages 16 to 24.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2012 Karen Hellier