AmeriCorps (also called the domestic Peace Corps) is a very confusing grouping of volunteer and salaried programs. From web research only (no direct experience) I conclude that AmeriCorps facilitates the service of more than 40,000 persons yearly (one source said >50,000) in a wide variety of over 1000 programs. These programs may be "governor-appointed state commissions, nonprofits, faith-based groups, schools, and other organizations". From education, to environmental work, to work for the homeless or crisis intervention, AmeriCorps members serve in pre-existing programs on USA soil. These pre-existing programs select the applicant members they wish to work with. Most are full time but a few are part time or summer programs.
Most members are paid a "modest living allowance, health insurance, student loan deferment, and training.” That is a full time member. “Plus, after you complete your service, you'll receive a $4,725 education award to help pay for college, grad school, vocational training, or to pay off student loans". Only 2 education awards may be earned in any one person’s lifetime although more than 2 years can be served. Some programs pay more, from $13,000 to $33,000 annually for "fellows" and teachers.
Two national programs of AmeriCorps are VISTA and NCCC
AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) are individuals 17 years old or older who live and work full time for one year in a community with a specific need. VISTA volunteers “build the capacity of small community-based organizations. Members are assigned to local public and private non-profit organizations to work toward meeting the community needs determined by the community itself” They are supposed to create self sustaining programs that will continue after the VISTA volunteer is gone.
AmeriCorps*NCCC (the National Civilian Community) volunteers serve for ten months. NCCC members are 18 to 24 year olds who serve in teams of 10 –12. They are “assigned to one of five campuses -- in Charleston, SC; Washington, DC; Perry Point, MD; Denver, CO; or San Diego, CA”. Volunteers live in a dorm and travel with their team to “serve in other communities and states”. Their projects tend to be something that the team can complete, rather than a program that will continue after the volunteers leave.
TeachforAmerica is also associated with AmeriCorps and pays the $4,725 education award currently although there is a caveat on their web page that they can’t promise this will continue but that they are working on continuing the relationship.
All AmeriCorps programs are overseen by The Corporation for National and Community Service.
http://www.americorps.org/ and it MANY, MANY related links for more information