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August 2022 Newsletter

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State Service Plan listening sessions

Are you invested in volunteering and service in Iowa? Then we invite YOU to give us feedback!

Volunteer Iowa is working on our next State Service Plan. Every three years Volunteer Iowa is charged with drafting this plan, which serves as a blueprint for identifying state priorities, themes, and areas of emphasis for Iowa national service and volunteer programs.

Feedback is invited from the public, from existing partners, and any organizations that are invested in service in Iowa. Pre-registration is requested but not required. Register here:

JUST ADDED In-Person Public Session:

Tuesday, August 16; 11:45 am - 1:15 pm
Creston Arts Center
411 W. Adams, Creston, IA 50801

Virtual Public Sessions:

Volunteer/Mentor Programs
Thursday, August 4; 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM
Meeting Information:
Microsoft Teams Link
Meeting ID: 217 407 388 59
Passcode: AueDXY
Call-in (Audio Only)
+1 515-348-6300,,246569747# United States, Iowa City
(800) 532-1215,,246569747# United States (Toll-free)
Phone Conference ID: 246 569 747#

Participants who wish to review a copy of the current State Service Plan can find it on the Volunteer Iowa website: 2019-2022 Iowa State Service Plan.

Contact with any questions.

AmeriCorps Planning Grant Opportunity

Volunteer Iowa has announced the availability of extended deadlines to apply for AmeriCorps State planning grants for program year 2022-2023. Submission of the required Pre-Application for Planning Grants is due no later than August 16, 2022. Check the AmeriCorps State grants page on the Volunteer Iowa website for the full timeline and application details.

AmeriCorps State and National grants provide funding to help organizations manage an AmeriCorps program, which involves recruiting, training, and supporting AmeriCorps members who serve on a full-time or part-time basis to help the organization address a community need. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis to projects that support organizational capacity-building, education, healthy futures, environmental stewardship, veterans and military families, economic opportunities, public safety, disaster preparedness/response, and other identified community issues in Iowa. Successful programs utilize service as a strategy to meet community needs, while supporting the development and growth of the AmeriCorps members serving with the organization.

AmeriCorps State planning grants do not provide AmeriCorps member funding but instead provide organizations with funds to pay for the staff/consultant time needed to develop plans for and prepare to launch an AmeriCorps program.

Volunteer Iowa Opens Fall Cohort Opportunity for Service Enterprise Initiative Participants

A national Points of Light program led statewide by Volunteer Iowa, the Service Enterprise Initiative is a proven, research‐based model that equips organizations to leverage volunteers and their skills across all levels to successfully deliver on their social mission.

Through a multi-month virtual engagement with Volunteer Iowa, organizations will move through a change management process with innovative training and consulting support, that will result in embracing volunteers into their core operations and greater impact.

An organization will receive:

  • A thorough research-based assessment of existing organizational capacity and volunteer engagement practices
  • Up to 16 hours of training on change management and reexamining the ways in which the organization engages volunteers
  • Individualized consulting to address unique organizational opportunities and challenges
  • National certification signifying the organization’s commitment to and proficiency in appropriately leveraging the time and skills of volunteers to meet the social mission of the organization

Applications are due August 5th to be considered in the Central Iowa fall cohort, with additional training opportunities available across the state. View a recording of the June 29th informational webinar HERE, or visit for more information. Applications can be requested by emailing

National Service Alumni Survey

Volunteer Iowa is conducting a survey to collect your input on alumni engagement. Whether you served with an AmeriCorps VISTA, AmeriCorps State & National, AmeriCorps NCCC, or AmeriCorps Seniors program, we want to hear from you! Please complete this very short 3-5 minute survey. Thank you for your time and commitment to National Service!

National Service Fellows Selected

Volunteer Iowa is pleased to announce the selection of six National Service Fellows who will receive $9,000 in fellowship funding to support their affiliated organizations in expanding their role with AmeriCorps and other national service programming. The new fellowship program, supported by a grant from the Schultz Family Foundation and matching funds from the Alliant Energy Foundation and Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, targets populations that are currently underserved or under engaged in national service. The fellows and their affiliated organizations are:

Fellowship recipients will participate in a series of trainings designed to build their knowledge and organizations’ capacity to host an AmeriCorps member or AmeriCorps program. The program is intended to facilitate two-way learning, with Volunteer Iowa staff also gaining knowledge about how to make national service programming more accessible to rural communities and to diverse populations.

The National Service Fellowship is part of a larger series of Volunteer Iowa initiatives aimed at recruiting and retaining a diverse group of Iowa AmeriCorps members that are representative of Iowa’s population and expanding national service opportunities so that all young people in Iowa have the chance to serve in their community. These efforts, including a member leadership council, member emergency fund, and human resources consulting for AmeriCorps service site staff, were made possible by a National Service Challenge Grant from the Schultz Family Foundation.

Iowa Department for the Blind Receives Service Enterprise Re-Certification

Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) was recently recertified as a Service Enterprise Initiative organization. Service Enterprise organizations fundamentally leverage volunteers and their skills across all levels of the organization to successfully deliver on their mission. Less than 15 percent of organizations nationwide are characterized as Service Enterprises.

To be designated as a Service Enterprise, organization staff, board members, and volunteers must participate in the research-based assessment, training, and consulting. This process allows the organization to leverage the skills and expertise of volunteers at all levels. The designation, which is awarded by Points of Light, strengthens the capacity of nonprofits to leverage the skill sets and talents of volunteers to address community needs.

The initiative is currently delivered through Volunteer Iowa, part of a national network of Service Enterprise Hubs, which has certified more than 400 organizations across the country since 2012. IDB joins more than 40 organizations across Iowa that have received the Service Enterprise certification.

To learn more about Service Enterprise visit Organizations and agencies that are interested in becoming a Service Enterprise can contact Michelle Raymer, Volunteer Iowa Program Officer, or 515- 348-6235.

Introducing Ashlynn Brown

We welcomed Ashlynn Brown, Disaster VISTA, to the Volunteer Iowa team on Tuesday, July 5. Ashlynn is a native of New London, Iowa. She graduated from the University of Iowa in May 2022 with a degree in Geography. She earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology in 2017. This fall, Ashlynn will begin a master’s program in emergency management at Arkansas State University.

Ashlynn has worked as an archaeologist in Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana for nearly five years before returning to school to study geography. While a student at University of Iowa, Ashlynn helped found an American Red Cross Club and continues to serve with them today.

In her free time, you can find Ashlynn hiking, reading, gardening, cooking and baking. You can reach Ashlynn at

Meet Zach Cantrell

On Monday, June 27, Zach Cantrell started his position as Volunteer Iowa Database Coordinator Summer VISTA. Zach was born in Des Moines and has lived there since. Zach is a student at Grinnell College, majoring in English, complemented by additional studies in world language and cultures, history and philosophy.

Some of Zach’s previous work experience include serving at a locally owned ice cream shop, lifeguarding for the City of Des Moines, being a teacher at a daycare facility, and, still currently, caring for the community’s animal companions at two animal clinics. This is Zach’s first experience in national service and he is excited to give it his all and make the most of every day!

The things Zach enjoys most are spending time with friends, family, and their animal buddies, traveling around the state, country, and world, attending community events, and getting invested in learning about history and culture around the world! He also enjoys finding dessert recipes—A LOT of dessert recipes—particularly brownies and ice cream, in case you wondered what his weakness is.

Zach is happy to help anybody in any way he can and wants everyone reading this right now to have an excellent rest of your day and know that you are beyond amazing!! You can reach Zach at

Welcome Caleb Rigdon

Caleb Rigdon, VISTA Leader, started with Volunteer Iowa on Monday, July 18. Caleb grew up in Jesup, Iowa, a town in north-central Iowa of about 2,500 people. He graduated from Coe College in Cedar Rapids in 2021. While there, he ran track and field and studied social and criminal justice.

After graduating from Coe, Caleb joined AmeriCorps NCCC and was sent to the Southern Region campus in Vicksburg, MS. His first six months were spent being a support team leader; in this role, Caleb supported teams doing work throughout the South. In January, he became a field team leader, taking over a team and leading them in projects in Georgia and Virginia. These projects consisted of camp renovation and beautification, nonprofit capacity building, and wildfire mitigation.

In his free time, Caleb likes to read and write, watch sports (Cubs, Chargers, Penguins, and Ferrari: if you have issues with those teams, let him know), strum his guitar, and very recently, work on getting his motorcycle operational. Caleb’s email address is

Departing Youth Service-Learning AmeriCorps VISTA Kamryn Ryan

Kamryn Ryan, Youth Service-Learning AmeriCorps VISTA, will be wrapping up her term of service with Volunteer Iowa on August 15. During her year of service, Kamryn facilitated our stakeholder groups, working closely with volunteers from the K-12, afterschool, and nonprofit sectors, and our Youth Service Committee. She created a multitude of resources, built new partnerships, and presented training sessions and workshops about service-learning at several conferences and in-service days throughout the year, equipping educators, school administrators, and other stakeholders with the resources they needed to incorporate or elevate service learning in their areas. Kamryn received a Governor’s Volunteer Award in recognition of her efforts and her work has been recognized at the national level as well. We congratulate Kamryn on a successful year of VISTA service and thank her for her passion and dedication to youth service in Iowa!

9/11 Day of Service: Launch a Service Day Project

September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance allows individuals and communities to honor this moment in our nation’s history through volunteering to help transform 9/11 into a day of unity, empathy, and service.

If you’re interested in planning a Day of Service activity with your nonprofit, school, or community, OR already have a project planned, we encourage you to register for Volunteer Iowa’s session on Incorporating Youth Voice into Your Day of Service. By intentionally involving youth in service day activities, we help those who have no memory of this day in our nation’s history honor and learn the significance of this day through service project.

The session will be virtual on August 17th from 3:00-4:00pm. Register here. Stay tuned for more 9/11 Day of Service announcements in our September Newsletter.

Service in the News

Current Volunteer Iowa and AmeriCorps VISTA Openings

Volunteer with us! Find volunteer opportunities with Volunteer Iowa:

Current AmeriCorps VISTA openings in Iowa:

Important Dates

Looking for a way to give back? Visit Get Connected today to find volunteer opportunities. Organizations can post volunteer opportunities on Get Connected as well at no cost.