Seeking External Peer Reviewers for 2011 Grant Competitions with Specialized Experience

Posted by on November 21, 2010

Seeking External Peer Reviewers for 2011 Grant Competitions with Specialized Experience

Background on CNCS

The mission of the Corporation for National and Community Service (the Corporation) is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic participation through service and volunteering. For more than fifteen years, the Corporation—through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs—has helped to engage millions of citizens in meeting community and national challenges through service and volunteer action.

On April 21, 2009, President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, the most sweeping expansion of national service in a generation. This landmark law not only expands service opportunities, but also focuses national service on key outcomes; builds the capacity of individuals, nonprofits, and communities to succeed; and encourages innovative approaches to solving problems.

What External Peer Reviewers Do

Peer Reviewers support the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) by assessing grant applications submitted to CNCS for funding.  The FY2011 Peer Reviews will utilize a distance-based Field Review model, allowing Reviewers to complete their review responsibilities remotely, without the need to travel to a central location for review participation.  Some Reviewers who have been identified with appropriate skills may be invited to serve as panel chairs in a Facilitator role.

External Reviewer Qualifications

External Reviewers must have a college degree (graduate degree preferred).  If no degree, a minimum of five to seven years of relevant experience in a particular field is required.

The skills and experience required to serve as a Reviewer include: (1) good oral and written communication skills, (2) the ability to collaborate with peers, and (3) experience or a background especially in at least one of the areas below.  In particular, CNCS is looking for qualified Reviewers in the areas highlighted in red text.

·          Disaster Services
·          Healthy Futures
·          Education
·          Environmental Stewardship
·          Economic Opportunity
·          Veterans and Military Families
·          National or Community Service Programs
·          Grant Making
·          Nonprofit Management
·          Volunteer Management
·          Strategic Planning
·          Others

Qualified Reviewers should have experience in one or more of the following roles within the areas identified above:

·                                             Consultant
·                                             Practitioner
·                                             Educator
·                                             Public Administrator
·                                             Staff or Board Member
·                                             Funder
·                                             Administrator/Manager
·                                             Analyst, Researcher, or Evaluator
·                                             Volunteer

What to Expect

Peer Review Panel Participation

Each Reviewer will be assigned to a review panel. Reviewers: 1) read and assess their assigned applications individually, 2) participate in panel discussions regarding each assigned application, and 3) submit individual rating and comments for each assigned application. Reviewers are required to collaborate, coordinate and communicate with other panel participants and CNCS staff, and submit review products on time. The review process duration is two weeks and can take 40 to 50 hours of work time to complete, depending on individual and panel working styles. Panel member responsiveness is a key component of success. There are mandatory orientation and training sessions, as well as panel calls that will require alterations to your normal work and/or activity schedule.


External Peer Reviewers must have strong written and oral communication skills, demonstrated ability to collaborate, and proficiency using computers/technology for all aspects of the review. Online tools allow for virtual collaboration during panel reviews. A comfort level with basic internet technologies and regular access to a high-speed internet connection are important. Reviewers download applications from an online collaboration tool that can be printed or viewed on the computer. Review documents for Individuals as well as review panels are shared and posted using online collaboration tools. Email responsiveness is also an essential part of the collaborative process, but its use may be defined by the panel.


CNCS offers Reviewers and Facilitators, with the exception of federal employees, a modest honorarium for their participation in a grant review.  The honorarium amount varies, but begins at $700 depending on the participant’s role and the expected deliverables.

How to Respond
Go to to indicate your interest in applying for a review opportunity and for information on how to apply.

Important Information for Participating

Completing a Reviewer Application does not confirm you for participation in a review. CNCS accepts Reviewer Applications on a rolling basis, and will review profiles and approve those individuals with the appropriate educational and professional backgrounds to serve as Reviewers or Facilitators. Peer Reviewers are selected for each grant competition based on their qualifications and the number of grant applications received.  As we get closer to the review dates, we will contact those selected to confirm availability and provide specific details.

You will be asked to sign a Conflict of Interest (COI) Form. The COI Form will inquire about any apparent conflicts of interest for you, a close relative, or professional or personal contacts. Conflicts may include if you or your close associates have been involved in the development of a grant application or associated with an organization that is applying for a grant (e.g. a staff of, former staff of, applicant for employment with, on the board or hold governing office of, enrolled as a student with, or received an honorarium from the organization.)

Please note:  As of FY2011, the names of all participating External Reviewers and Facilitators for CNCS grant competitions may be made public.

Tell a Friend or Colleague
If you know someone with the appropriate qualifications, please forward them this Outreach flyer and direct them to to indicate interest in applying for a review opportunity and for information on how to apply.

Thank you for considering service as an External Peer Reviewer for CNCS!

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