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Serving Christ Through Action for Better Community

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Urban Servant Corps?
Urban Servant Corps is a one-year full-time Lutheran volunteer program in Denver, CO. Volunteers commit to living in intentional community and embrace values of simplicity and spirituality as they serve at inner-city Denver nonprofits. USC positions are at agencies that provide immediate and direct care service as well those who advocate for lasting solutions and long-term social change.

Do I have to be Lutheran/Christian?
Urban Servant Corps is an ELCA-affiliated program. Participants are not required to be Lutheran or identify as Christian. However, we uphold the traditions and values of the Lutheran Church in the midst of our community gatherings. Volunteers are expected to attend community gatherings that include a faith reflection or worship service and engage in exploring their faith and supporting others in this practice. USC welcomes folks from all faith traditions and theological perspectives; in fact, that adds a rich dynamic to our conversations about spirituality!

Does it cost to apply?
No. There is not a fee associated with applying to Urban Servant Corps.

Who participates in this year of service? Is there an age limit to be a member of USC?
The majority of USC applicants have just graduated from college and are in their early 20s. However, USC has hosted volunteers of all ages, ranging from 21-75 (there is no upper age limit)! Additionally, married couples, international students, retired folks have added to the rich community experience at USC.  All Urban Servant Corps volunteers must be 21 years of age.

How do I apply? What is the selection and placement process?
You may download an application from the Urban Servant Corps website. Applications will be accepted until all positions are filled. Typically, people start applying in January. USC staff members will process the application and contact the applicant for an interview, ensuring that USC is a good programmatic fit. Upon acceptance into USC, applicants will interview with a placement agency to further discuss the duties of the specific volunteer job. Finally, a Commitment of Agreement is signed between all parties (USC staff, applicant and agency supervisor).

What is the timeline for a year of service through the Urban Servant Corps?
Typically, the USC program runs from the last Sunday in August through the first Friday of the following August. There is a week-long orientation upon arrival and USC volunteers begin service at their placement agencies the Tuesday after Labor Day.

What is intentional community?
As a community of eight to ten individuals, volunteers meet for community business, meal sharing, and fun(!) on a regular basis. Volunteers utilize a consensus-based decision making model to work through the functioning and structure of the house community. Through these conversations and activities, the household becomes a support system…a group of people to “do life” together…an intentional community. Together, volunteers are able to cope with the challenges as well as celebrate the joys of the volunteer year.

How much emphasis is there on spirituality?
USC volunteers are at all stages of their spiritual journey. Volunteers may or may not identify with a particular faith or denomination. Some may be outwardly disciplined in their faith practices while others may not. USC asks that volunteers be open to exploring and experiencing faith and spirituality with others. Volunteers are encouraged to seek outside spiritual communities as well. Spiritual Direction is offered to Urban Servant Corps volunteers, if they choose to individually participate.

How simple is simple? What is the USC lifestyle like?
Living simply is a challenge and opportunity that the volunteers face in our world of plenty. The USC experience invites individuals to embrace a year of simplicity and sustainability in order to open their hearts and minds to the needs of their local and global communities. USC provides for the basic needs of volunteers so that they can live out their passion in the world. In an act of solidarity and consciousness, volunteers are asked to live within the personal stipend of $75 each month. Food, housing, and health insurance are costs that are covered by Urban Servant Corps (separate from the individual stipend). Each volunteer must ask for themselves how they would separate their "needs" from their "wants" during this year of simplicity and sustainability. Wifi is available at the USC homes, but is not the kind of access that supports 5 people individually streaming separate Netflix movies -- one communal movie, on the other hand, you are in business!

What does a "community night" look like?
Each Monday evening, USC volunteers gather for the practice of intentional community. The month follows this structure:
Week 1: Community Worship
Week 2: Social Justice Issues (a member of the Denver community presents on a particular topic that is of interest to USC volunteers)
Week 3: Faith Reflection (led by a USC volunteer)
Week 4: Fun Night (take some time to enjoy one another!)

Can I defer my loans? Is there an AmeriCorps Education Award available?
Federal student loans usually can be deferred. Check with your university and/or lending institution to confirm eligibility and to obtain the appropriate forms. Unfortunately, the AmeriCorps funding for faith-based service program has been discontinued. We continue to seek opportunities to help with student loan debt and keep our fingers crossed for the funding to be renewed. In the meantime, we invite you to become informed about income driven repayment programs and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program if you have federal student loan debt.

What is the living situation like?
Urban Servant Corps owns two community homes in inner-city Denver that house between eight and ten volunteers. House assignments are primarily based on the location of the partner agency where volunteers are placed. Each USC volunteer will have his/her own room that is selected through a lottery system on move-in day. Both houses and each bedroom are fully furnished.

Do USC volunteers have health insurance?
Urban Servant Corps covers health insurance premiums and co-pays up to $500. If you already have insurance, you may remain with your current carrier (at your own cost).

Can I bring a car? If I don’t have a car, how is transportation handled?
Yes, you may bring a car, although public transportation, walking and bike riding are greatly encouraged! Most USC placement agencies are within walking or biking distance from the houses. If transportation to/from a work site is required, USC provides a bus pass or reimburses mileage up to the equivalent that is paid for a bus pass for work transportation. For those who bring a car, there is street and/or alley parking available.

What community of support is available outside the intentional living community?
USC has a number of alumni who have remained in Denver following their term of service (approximately 75!), in addition to the two USC staff members who are readily available (who are both USC alumni, too)! Weekly supervision is provided by service sites. Spiritual Directors are offered for volunteers who are interested. Board members are available for resume review and professional development support.  We love COMMUNITY and are grateful for the many ways that USC is connected to so many outstanding people and organizations the Denver community.

Can I seek other employment to earn extra income?
No. Due to the commitment of serving a 40 hours per week job, in addition to the commitment of community life, there simply is not time to hold additional employment. Also, outside employment creates an unbalanced dynamic within the community and detracts from the value of simplicity that is upheld in USC.

What do time off/vacation and weekends look like?
Time off is determined by each service site; however, USC recommends 2 weeks of time off during the year of service. There are a handful of USC community commitments throughout the year (retreats, fundraising events, etc), but in general, weekends and evenings (outside of Monday’s community night) are for you!

What happens after a year of service with USC?
This depends on each individual’s goals. Some attend graduate school or seminary, others are hired for a paid position at their service site, yet others move closer to home and find employment. Support is offered towards the end of the year of service to discern what could follow the year of service. Alumni, Board members, and staff offer this support through resume review/mock interviews, emotional/spiritual processing of “calling”, discussing the nitty gritty practical things like “how do I find an apartment?” There are many ways of moving successfully beyond this year of service and it looks a little different for everyone!  

I’ve heard Denver is a GORGEOUS city! Can you tell me more?
What they say is true – Denver rocks. To learn more about the city of Denver (weather, urban life, parks, etc):
https://www.denver.org/denver-meetings-conventions/decide-on-denver/denver-facts/