What are the primary judging criteria?

  • Impact of service performed
  • Impact of the experience on students serving
  • Replicability of the program model
  • Sustainability of the program without substantial grant funding
  • Timeline for implementation (for example, preference will be given to programs that will launch by Fall 2017)
  • Program design
  • Institutional support (This may be demonstrated by a letter of support from the administration, named program leaders, funding model, etc.)

How many hours per week should be allocated to service and how many for other activities?

The expectation is that corps members are in full-time positions, with participation in the program ideally equal to 32 hours or more per student per week. To qualify, service must take place at least 20 hours per week and Challenge judges will favor those programs offering college credit for full-time service. Additional hours should be allocated for related learning activities. The responsibilities of the corps members in these positions can include time spent in service activities, as well as time spent in professional development/training, and mentoring activities. There may instances when corps members serve in comprehensive programs that engage corps members in a combination of both service activities and other significant programming, such as college courses, professional certifications, etc.  

Are there any limitations where the service can take place? Can students serve in several different places over their term of service?

Service must take place primarily in the US, although international components may be included.  It may take place on or off campus, and may take place in multiple locations.

Does service need to relate to coursework/major?

Only as the creators and administrators of the program see necessary.

Are both undergraduate and graduate programs eligible?


What are the rules relating to providing living stipends to students?

Students should either receive a living allowance comparable to AmeriCorps (approximately $1000 - $2000/month) or benefits such as room and board to enable them to support themselves during the service year. Please specify in your application how you will take into account ensuring participants living costs will be covered (i.e. a living stipend, provided housing, food or transportation vouchers, etc.

Can students be required to pay tuition and fees during their service year?

Tuition and fees can be charged as long as they are receiving academic credit comparable to a traditional year of academic learning. 

Will these positions be considered AmeriCorps? Will students receive Segal Education Awards?

AmeriCorps funding may be considered as part of the financial sustainability plan but is not required. It is up to the institution to investigate AmeriCorps funding. The Service Year Alliance does not provide Segal Education Awards. There may be opportunities for institutions to receive education awards through the Corporation for National Service’s Partnership Challenge. More information about the Challenge can be found here.

Does the program have to operate for the full calendar year?

The term of service should ideally be for an academic year (9 months), calendar year (12 months), or longer. While we encourage full-year programs, a program may combine multiple semesters in innovative arrangements to achieve the desired term of service. In no case may the term of service for a program be less than six months.

Can my program be limited to select(ed) students?

Yes. The program can be limited to students participating in a specific major, school, or other group. It need not be open broadly.

Could universities from private, public, and community colleges in the same network apply together following a "collective impact" approach?

Yes, partnership/collective impact submissions are highly encouraged. In these instances, judges would select the most appropriate category for the participating team to be considered.

Are there any stipulations on how the prize money should be spent? 

No. The prize money will be a delivered as a gift to the winning institutions.

Are there reporting requirements?

The Challenge host will follow up with winners for informal updates and may ask that they participate in PR and media showcases. 

What is the DQP?

The Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) outlines a set of reference points for what students should know and be able to do upon completion of associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees – in any field of study.

There are five broad categories of proficiencies which provide a profile of what degrees mean in terms of specific learning outcomes. Through focusing on broad areas of learning and the application of that learning, the DQP illustrates progressively challenging performance expectations for all students.

To learn more, visit the DQP homepage.

Who can I contact to learn more and/or express interest in participating?

MacKenzie Moritz
Associate Director for Strategic Partnerships, Service Year Alliance

Rachael Weiker
Community Manager, Service Year Alliance

Jenna Dell, Ed.D.
Learning Manager for Higher Education, Service Year Alliance