To: All Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) grantees, sponsoring organizations, and AmeriCorps members
Joseph, CNCS General Counsel
Date: June 22, 2016
Re: Election Year Reminder
re: Prohibited Political Activity
As the 2016 election approaches, I
want to remind the entire national service and Social Innovation Fund community
that it is prohibited to use federal funds or resources for political
activities or other activities for the purpose of influencing the
outcome of any election to public office. This applies to any election for federal,
state, or local office.
I am sending this message broadly
to all CNCS grantees, VISTA sponsors, and AmeriCorps members (including AmeriCorps
VISTA and AmeriCorps NCCC members).
Grantees, please deliver and emphasize this message to your subgrantees,
staff, and Senior Corps volunteers.
As with all prohibited activities,
the goal isn’t just to follow the law but to avoid any perception that you are misusing federal
resources. Every single grantee is
responsible to train its subgrantees, staff, and members/volunteers on what activities
are prohibited, and discuss them routinely to quickly identify and resolve
As a general matter:
Never mix election
activity and CNCS resources—money or national service participants (AmeriCorps
members, including VISTAs and NCCC, or Senior Corps volunteers).
Specifically, don’t use federal
funds, charge time to your grant directly or as match, accumulate service or
training hours, or direct or allow national service participants to engage in prohibited
political activities, which generally includes (but isn’t limited to):
- organizing or attending
political events, demonstrations, protests, petitions, rallies, etc.;
- participating in, endorsing,
or advocating for or against political parties, platforms, groups, or candidates;
- conducting voter
registration or other get-out-the-vote activity; and
election-oriented messages on social media (using CNCS funds or with reference
to CNCS programs).
This is a general reminder, not a
detailed summary of the law. You can
find the precise restrictions applicable to you or your program in your grant
terms and conditions, member agreement, or related documents.
Of course, individuals may exercise their rights as private
citizens to participate in political activities:
on their own initiative and personal time;
- not affiliated with CNCS programs or supported
by CNCS funds; and
- not wearing any program insignia, logo,
Again, it is very important to avoid any perception that CNCS
resources (money or national service participants) are being misused.
questions about this reminder? Grantees should consult with your CNCS
program officer, and individual AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers
should contact the programs you serve with.
VISTAs have additional restrictions on political fundraising that apply at all
times (on- and off-duty).