Frequently Asked Questions


Why should I join?

Members join AmeriCorps for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons is to make a difference for something they really believe in. A lot of times when people finish college, they start right into their career. As dedicated as they may be to this career, often times it's not the most fulfilling feeling. The opportunity to work directly with someone who needs the skills and guidance you can offer is rewarding and fulfilling.

Members also join to enhance their skills. Most employers want to hire someone who has experience, but you can't get experience until someone hires you. With KEYS, you get that experience. You'll be placed directly with a group of youth who will challenge you to use the knowledge you have to develop the skills you need.

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Can you describe a KEYS member's typical day?

KEYS members perform a variety of services in the course of their day. Any of our members would tell you there's no such thing as a "typical" day. Each member's duties vary according to their sites, the needs of their kids, and the member's talents and skills. Regardless of the daily schedule, members are encouraged to use their skills, talents and interests when working with the kids. Our sites are often looking for a fresh perspective.

If you'd like to better understand what a KEYS member's day might look like, visit our member duties page.

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How do members find a host site?

Full Year Members

After interviewing with KEYS staff, candidates will be informed as to whether or not they have been accepted into the program. Following acceptance, full-year members receive a list of potential host sites. Members are expected to contact all of the schools or organizations that they think could be a potential good fit for them, and then set up an interview with that site's supervisor. If, after the interview process, both the member and supervisor think the placement is a match, the member will be placed there.

Summer Members

Summer candidates participate in a Meet-and-Greet interview day where they meet for a few minutes with the supervisor of every host site. This is a fast-paced way for every candidate to learn more about each site. It also gives each host site the opportunity to meet all of the candidates. At the end of these interviews, candidates and host sites are asked to list their preferences. KEYS makes assignments accordingly.

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What kind of training does KEYS provide?

New KEYS members take part in "Pre-Service Training" (PST). PST focuses on topics members need to know in order to have a successful year. These topics include: What is AmeriCorps?, What is KEYS Service Corps?, documentation, mentoring, how to assist students with their homework and classwork, conflict resolution, how to handle situations that may occur during your term-of-service, how to design a community service project, as well as various team-building exercises.

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Do members get vacation and sick leave?

At the beginning of training, members receive an hours plan. This plan maps out an estimate of how many hours the member should serve each week of the term-of-service. As the term-of-service progresses, the member will receive emailed updates that will show whether they are ahead or behind according to the plan. For example, full-time members need to serve about 43 hours per week to reach their end of the year target goal of 1,700 hours. If they are serving more than that weekly amount, they will have extra hours to use for sick leave or vacation time. So if the member is ahead, they can request time off and still be on track. If they are behind, they will need to get back on track.

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Does KEYS provide housing?

KEYS does not provide housing. Nor does KEYS help with relocation expenses. However, every year we have people move here from other areas. Some stay with friends; some scout the area ahead of time and find a spot; some just show up and hope for the best. Often members from other areas end up finding places together.

There are many places you can look for housing opportunities. While KEYS does not endorse any option, many of our members have used www.pittsburgh.craigslist.org, Roommates.com, various KEYS groups on Facebook and the classified ads in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette or Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

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Do members need to have a car?

It's not necessary to have your own vehicle. Pittsburgh has relatively decent public transportation. We don't determine where a member will live during the course of service, but since our service sites are spread out over the county, we offer advice as to what neighborhoods are more centrally located. If a member is taking public transportation, some sites are less accessible than others, so the member should take this into consideration when choosing a host site and housing.

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Does KEYS pay for transportation?

KEYS does not pay for transportation. Members should plan to budget $100 to $150 a month for unlimited public transit, depending on location. For more information about Pittsburgh's public transit, please visit www.PortAuthority.org. Most sites will have parking available for members who have their own vehicle.

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How do I receive an education award?

The education award is received upon successful completion of the term-of-service. This means that the member served all the hours they agreed to serve (1700 for full-time, 900 for part-time, 450 for quarter-time, 300 for minimum-time) and also met the other requirements of their contract. This award is not made in cash. The amount of the award is placed into the National Service Trust in the member's name and they have up to seven years to use it. Learn more about the education award here.

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Am I eligible to receive health insurance?

You are eligible if:

  • You don't have other health insurance.
  • You are a full-time member, or a half-time member serving at a full time rate.

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Does KEYS provide child care?

You may be eligible if:

  • You are serving at a full-time rate.
  • Your child is 12 years of age or younger.
  • You are a custodial parent.
  • You need child care in order to serve.
If you meet those four criteria, you can submit an application that includes information about family size and family income. That information will be used to determine how much, if any, of a subsidy you would be able to receive.

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A decade has passed since my initial term as a KEYS member, but I still to this day regularly advocate to others the immense value in dedicating a year of one's life to serving others.

T.S, Former KEYS Member
Summer 2006, Full year 2007-2008

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