Learning and Best Practices

The National Service Online Learning Center provides online courses and tools to:

  • Train program and project staff
  • Explain concepts to stakeholders and partners
  • Understand the principles behind application requirements
  • Meet other needs where understanding is essential to grantee and organizational success

National Service Performance Measures provide specific information about CNCS’s approach to the core functions of grantees and sponsors in terms of grants management and measuring performance.

Required Online Courses

National Service Criminal History (NSCHC) - eCourse

Required of all CNCS grantees annually.

The ultimate purpose of conducting the National Service Criminal History Checks (NSCHC) is to keep people – especially those most vulnerable – safe. This course breaks down the requirements of the NSCHC into a learner-friendly presentation that aims to help staff of CNCS-funded programs conduct and document criminal history checks on covered positions.

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Please use these instructions to create a Litmos account:

To access the system, you will need to establish an account and maintain a user name and password. Here is the link to get started and to opt-in to the system: token code CNCS-Litmos. You can also find more information on Litmos on the Knowledge Network


Token Code: CNCS-Litmos

Key Concepts of Financial and Grants Management - eCourse

Key Concepts of Financial and Grants Management eCourse, required of grantees new to CNCS prior to receiving CNCS funds; recommended for all grantees annually.  The person or persons who will have primary responsibility for program management and those who will have primary responsibility for financial management must all take the course.

Year created: 2010
Created by: MBI

This tutorial covers the main elements of grants financial management and administration for CNCS-grant recipients. Topics include federal and CNCS regulations, written policies and procedures, internal controls, financial management systems, managing cash, budget controls, documentation, time and activity reporting, matching requirements, and financial reporting. Grant recipients are encouraged (and, in some cases, required) to enhance their financial management skills in this user-friendly, online environment by accessing regulatory and procedural content related to their particular grant program(s).  Updates to the course material are currently underway and will be completed by Summer 2019.

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Following completion of the course, please click the Achievements icon, download your certificate, and retain the Certificate of Completion for your records.


Recommended Online Courses

2019 AmeriCorps State & National Grant Competition: Best Practices in Budget Development

In this webinar, a CNCS Grants Officer provides guidance about how to create a compliant grant budget for an AmeriCorps program. Participants are encouraged to review the Budget Instructions section of the Application Instructions, as well as resources available on the CNCS Knowledge Network Financial and Grants Management webpage.


Preparing the Grant Budget for Senior Corps Programs

Year created: 2010

Created by: MBI

Learn about budget development with a focus on preparing and administering a Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) grant-specific budget for Senior Corps programs. This course was created cooperatively by CNCS, MBI Consulting, Inc., and the National Service Knowledge Network.

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Key Concepts of Cash and In-kind Match

Year created: 2010

Created by: MBI

Learn about the fundamentals of cash and in-kind matching for programs funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Because match is a requirement for most CNCS-funded grants it is a critical issue to understand. Let this course serve as a guide to help your organization properly value, document, and record match in order to remain in compliance with Federal grant requirements. You’ll also get insights about some common audit findings related to match, as well as when volunteer services can be counted as match. This learning material was created through the cooperation of the Corporation for National and Community Service; MBI Consulting, Inc.; and ETR Associates.  

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Managing Your Budget

Learn about budget development and strategies for effective budget management in order to avoid over or underspending. 

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Key Elements of Grant Compliance

Learn about how to comply with important elements referenced in your grant award to assure compliance, protect resources and public assets, and maintain a good public image. 

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Prohibited Activities

Prohibited activities are important to you individually and to your organization. In this session, you will: 1) identify prohibited activities and provide sample scenarios of adherence to or violation of these activities, and 2) discuss the consequences of engaging in prohibited activities.

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Federal Financial Reports and Program Income

Learn about the importance of the Federal Financial Report (FFR), the process for submitting an FFR in eGrants, and how you can use the FFR in your organization.

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Financial Monitoring for Grantees

Grantees who are responsible for the financial compliance of subgrantees need to have a clear understanding of the basic concepts of financial monitoring. This interactive 45-minute course includes a number of scenarios, and provides a high-level overview of the essential components of a financial monitoring plan: assessing risk, selecting monitoring methods, identifying issues, and taking corrective action.

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Additional Resources:

Note, that these documents were provided by grantees of CNCS. They are grantee work product and are not official forms of CNCS or approved by CNCS, unless noted, otherwise. Please review, edit and utilize the documents that fit your organization and your subgrantees. (Office of Grants Management, September, 2013.) 

Match Requirements and Documentation

Learn about how match requirements and appropriate documentation contribute to accurate financial tracking and compliance with established guidelines. 

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Additional Resources:

  • Sample In-Kind Contribution Form (PDF)

Closing Out Your CNCS Grant

Learn how to prepare to close out your CNCS grant at the end of the project period. 

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Other Resources

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