Demonstrating the goals of AmeriCorps service


The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) AmeriCorps program operates in multiple cities nationwide, with members serving in community development corporations to help promote volunteerism and civic engagement by encouraging neighbors to take active roles in helping to transform their communities. LISC created an Interlocking Circles activity to demonstrate how a placement site, the grantee, a member's personal goals, and the overall goals of AmeriCorps interact and connect. The activity can be used during orientation for operating site staff, members, and placement site supervisors.


AmeriCorps members and staff need to know how they fit into the national service world; pre-service orientation is a good venue for discussion of this topic.




  • Blank paper for participants to jot down their thoughts
  • A flip chart, overhead, or white board to display the activity and consolidate participant contributions
  • Writing implements for participants and facilitator

The display method (e.g., flip chart) should contain five pre-drawn circles, four of which contain the goals of AmeriCorps:

  1. Getting Things Done
  2. Strengthening Communities
  3. Encouraging Responsibility
  4. Expanding Opportunity

The empty fifth circle is where the facilitator will include their own organization's goals. (For a visual example, see slide 7 of the LISC Get Geared Up for Service presentation.)


The entire activity should take about 10-15 minutes. The facilitator:

  • Leads the initial discussion by introducing the four goals of AmeriCorps. (For content examples, see slide 6 of the LISC Get Geared Up for Service presentation.)
  • Shows the illustration of the five interlocking circles, four of which contain the AmeriCorps goals.
  • Places the name of the organization (e.g., LISC) in the fifth circle and discusses their specific goals, demonstrating where these goals fall within the circles.
  • Points out the similarities and differences between the organization's and AmeriCorps' goals.
  • Has each participant place the name of their placement site in the appropriate circle along with several words that describe their program's mission. (The idea is to have these descriptions overlap into one or more of the circles that contain elements of the AmeriCorps goals and/or the goals of the sponsoring organization.)
  • Asks the participants to describe their personal goals and to examine the relationship between their own aspirations and the overarching goals of AmeriCorps service.


LISC reports that participants learn:

The four goals of AmeriCorps

The interconnection between AmeriCorps goals, the grantee, and their placement site

How they personally fit into the larger picture of national service

For more information:

Website:  Local Initiatives Support Corporation, AmeriCorps

Related Resources: 

AmeriCorps 101: AmeriCorps & You / Fitting In

AmeriCorps Member Objectives Worksheet



Jones, P., & Rapp, S. (2005, April 19). Getting geared up for service: Interlocking circles. Session presented at the 2005 AmeriCorps Direct Best Practices Conference, Nashville, TN.

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