One of the primary roles of Serve Colorado is to select and administer AmeriCorps State programs in Colorado. We review a variety of applications designed to meet prioritized needs - as defined in the State Service Plan and updated as necessary to capture the Governor's priorities - of Coloradans each year. As such, all applications must be evaluated and rated to determine which will receive funding.
Serve Colorado is looking for volunteers to serve as external peer reviewers. Before submitting an application, please read the FAQs below to fully understand the role. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.
To APPLY CLICK HERE.
- What is a peer reviewer?
In addition to review by Serve Colorado staff and commissioners, the evaluation and ranking process for our grants is also conducted by those outside of our office ("peers") with expertise related to the Request for Application focus area(s). Peer reviewers will analyze submitted applications for quality and rate them based on published criteria. Serve Colorado adds the peer reviewers' comments and ratings to staff and commissioner ratings to determine which applications to support.
- What is the benefit of being a peer reviewer?
As a peer reviewer, you will play an integral role in determining the makeup of national service in Colorado. You will gain experience in analyzing and scoring grants that benefit programs that focus on the most pressing needs of Colorado, as outlined in Colorado's State Service Plan. You will get an inside look at the grant-making process for a major source of funding allocated to our state and learn about the selection criteria for national service programs like AmeriCorps. You will have the opportunity to network with and learn from other experts from various fields and professions. Finally, you will have a chance to learn from others on how the technical aspects of meeting a community need are integrated into activities through strong program designs.
- What are the responsibilities of peer reviewers?
The primary responsibility of peer reviewers is to participate in all phases of the process. Teams of reviewers are selected for each set of applications based on each reviewer's expertise. When reviewers do not fully participate, the absence of their expertise or viewpoint has a direct impact on the team. That said, we do recognize that personal or business crises may develop unexpectedly, causing reviewers to drop out.
Other responsibilities are to:
- Protect the integrity of the process by ensuring no conflicts of interest occur, and notifying Serve Colorado immediately should any conflict arises. A Conflict of Interest form is signed before the review process begins to identify conflicts ahead of time which, in part, determines which applications peer reviewers will score.
- Maintain confidentiality for all information about applicants that is revealed through the peer review process.
- Refrain from using such information in any way that would benefit the reviewer or any other organization or business.
- Complete all tasks for each peer review phase including, but not limited to, attending the online training, reading and assessing applications, submitting comments and other requested data, and participating in any conference calls and online meetings.
- Return any materials requested at the end of the process.
- What is the process for peer reviewing?
Serve Colorado uses online meeting technology and teleconferencing to conduct peer reviews. This allows individuals from many different locations and in a wide variety of circumstances to participate from anywhere. The peer review process includes training and an orientation to the grant's requirements and purpose before applications are distributed. Submitted applications that meet minimum requirements are then distributed to peer reviewers electronically along with those forms or worksheets needed to conduct the review process. This is followed by a period of independent reading and rating of applications.
AmeriCorps applications are up to 10 pages in length. Each reviewer is assigned 1-5 applications (based on each reviewer's availability) to read and score independently. Serve Colorado then facilitates a virtual peer reviewer meeting, with an in-person option, to discuss ratings and comments on the applications. At the end of this meeting, Serve Colorado compiles the ratings to determine an overall score which determines the final funding recommendations/decisions.
- What are the qualifications of peer reviewers?
In general, peer reviewers need to have demonstrated experience in a field related to a need and activity discussed in an application. Generally, the needs and activities can be classified as related to disaster/emergency services, economic development, education, energy, environment, health, human services, public safety, and military and veterans affairs. Experience with grant writing or reviewing is helpful, but not required. Individuals with technical expertise and experience in volunteer program design, finance, evaluation, implementation, or nonprofit management are encouraged to apply.
Other qualifications include the ability to assess written narratives using a predetermined criteria and discern, as well as provide rationale for the quality rating assigned, the ability to read significant volumes of material within a pre-determined schedule, the ability to complete the tasks required on a schedule that does not accommodate extensions or modifications, the ability to participate in virtual discussions and negotiate with other reviewers over the ratings and scoring, and, the ability to use the preferred telephone and internet technology*.
*For anyone who is not familiar with online meetings, Serve Colorado does provide coaching so you can develop this ability.
- What is the time commitment for participating in a review?
This is a somewhat time-intensive and time-sensitive activity. Currently, applications are reviewed in late November to mid-December and, if funding is available, late-March to mid-April. Commitments are encouraged, but not necessary, for each review period. The components of a review and an estimate for the amount of time each phase takes are as follows:
- 1 hour - Orientation conference call
- 1.5 hours - Review of written assessment instructions provided to each reviewer, signing and returning any required certifications (e.g., Conflict of Interest)
- 1-2 hours per application - Read and analyze the proposal, develop and record comments and/or ratings, draft comments and submit. The exact time will vary based on your reading style.
- Up to 30 minutes per proposal - Online scoring meeting including the development of final comments, if applicable.
The total time commitment ranges from 5-12 hours over a 14-21 day period depending on the number of applications reviewed.
- What equipment or materials are needed?
Because the review process is generally conducted remotely, the following tools are essential:
- High speed or DSL internet connection to handle the opening of large documents and participating in online interactive meetings.
- The ability to scan signed forms or access to a fax for transmitting signed forms to Serve Colorado.
- A computer and phone with separate internet connections that permit using both at the same time.
- An email account.
- A printer, depending on your preferred reading style (optional).
- Is there a stipend for peer reviewers?
No. Serve Colorado asks peer reviewers to volunteer their time and expertise.
- Are the identities of peer reviewer made public?
The identities of peer reviewers are protected only during the review process. However, all of the reviewers' comments, scores, and identities, are public information once the decisions on awards are made public. Other information that becomes part of public record are the names of all organizations that applied for funding and their applications.
- How long is my application kept in the pool of potential reviewers?
Peer reviewers that are selected will remain in the pool of potential reviewers for one year. We will accept applications on a rolling admission. In August/September, you will be contacted to determine if you would like to remain as a reviewer for the upcoming year, deactivate your application, or pause your involvement until the following year.