Frequently Asked Questions

When do you accept applications?

We accept applications at any time, though for priority consideration, please have your application in by March 10th. If you missed this deadline, you can still apply but you may be placed on the waiting list. If you have any questions, please email us at [email protected]

What are the dates of the QVS year?

The 2017-18 service year runs from September 3, 2017-July 25, 2018. QVS national orientation for the 2017-2018 service year begins September 3, 2017. The last day of the program is July 25, 2018.

Should I apply?

An ideal candidate is someone who has an intrinsic commitment to participation in the movement toward a more just and equitable world, but has yet to discern the exact way that their particular skills and passions will be put to use, or the specific issues they want to dedicate their time and energy towards. This allows the year to be one of experimentation, listening deeply to yourself and others as you inevitably grow into the person you hope to become.

QVS welcomes applications from young adults who are at least 21 years old, who are self-motivated, and able to function highly within a professional work setting and in the everyday relationships of a shared house. Fellows should want to grow in the areas of spirituality, justice, community, simplicity, and sustainability. Fellows often find themselves in new and unexpected situations, so flexibility, openness, and a sense of humor are essential. QVS does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, race, creed, culture, disability, economic class, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Further, we actively encourage people of color, LGBTQ-identified people, folks from diverse theological and economic backgrounds to apply.               28847525716_ab56298127_o

What will the QVS experience be like?

The goal of a QVS year is to see what life can become when contemplative spirituality, social justice, and deep community are combined in an individual’s life. This year will ask a lot of you, but while QVS can provide the basic framework for your journey, ultimately the experience is what you make of it. Come ready to go all in.

Here’s the perspective from QVS alumna Becca Bass-
“There is a Nelson Mandela quote I recently read that really resonated with me, and reminded me of what the decision to do QVS represents to me: “May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears.” No matter what happens in your QVS year, as long as you are seeking something from the experience—as long as you are taking the risk of desiring something meaningful—you will learn and grow and clarify what it is you hope for, and how, and why. The QVS year is also a time of unusual support, unusual access to communities of people who are grappling with similar questions about what it means to live a purposeful life, unusual flexibility to learn about different kinds of service work, and unusual space in which to ask the questions that will continue to inform the way you live. You sure won’t leave with answers to all your questions, but you’ll leave with a more useful set of questions around which to build your life. The QVS year wasn’t easy or always comfortable, but I’m grateful every day for the way it has helped me identify, process, and pursue the things I care about with a community of people I care about.”

How is the service work determined?

QVS Fellows will work full time in community based social service and social change organizations. To see a full list of the organizations by issue that we are working with in the 2016-2017 service year, please see https://www.quakervoluntaryservice.org/community/interests/.

After you are preliminarily accepted to QVS in one of our four cities, you will rank your top work site placements in that location. You will then have the opportunity to interview directly with two or three of them. Assuming you interview well and are accepted by one of these organizations, you will be asked to commit to QVS for the full 11-months.  

What do you mean by “service?”

We know that the word “service” can bring to mind negative associations with charity or paternalism. This is not what QVS means by service. QVS partners with agencies and organizations that offer direct support to marginalized individuals and communities or which strive to transform unjust systems through support and advocacy. QVS does not invent service projects for you but rather partners with long standing community based organizations. Through partnering with QVS, these organizations are able to increase their capacity to do work they may not have been able to do without the extra help.

QVS seeks to facilitate a deeper understanding of underlying structural oppression through meaningful work involving learning & growth. You will have direct experience of answering that of God in others through real relationships with real people. When your experience falls short of this ideal, QVS will offer resources for reflection on your experience to equip you to engage in better ways as you move forward.

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What is the QVS house community like?

As a Fellow, you will share living space, meals, care for the home, and all aspects of day to day life. In many cases, you will be asked to share a room with another Fellow. QVS house communities live simply but abundantly. Together, you will construct a “community covenant” – an agreement guiding interactions in the house. You will worship together as a house and make decisions about the house using Friends decision making practices (a non-voting process similar, but distinct from consensus). Learning to live together, you will be challenged in small ways to practice patience, kindness, cooperation, and model equality and reciprocity in everyday interactions.

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Why should I choose QVS over similar programs like Americorps or Teach for America?

Unlike programs such as Americorps or Teach for America, QVS attempts to train and sustain your whole person. While some Americorps positions do resemble the site placement work of a QVS position, they do not provide the structure for spiritual growth or intentional community that are integral to the QVS experience. QVS is not a “year off” to “give back,” it is a year of reflection and training to prepare you for a whole life committed to peace, justice and equality.

Part of this longer vision is recognition that any work within a non-profit position requires you to focus your time and energy on a single, narrow issue, while the QVS community and network connects you to a much larger segment of the whole movement working for peace, justice, and equality.

“After choosing between fellowship offers from QVS and Americorps NCCC, I accepted a position in QVS’s Boston house and am working at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. QVS offered me a fresher, more integrative fellowship experience. It’s not simply professional development: we’re wrestling with how to make a home, live into our unique senses of faith, and practice social justice even after the workday ends. QVS speaks to a multifaceted young adult life and a new kind of young urban professional.

Through QVS I have been able to experience co-creating a personalized intentional community with other young adults. QVS has given us a foundation of Quaker principles to design this community. We’ve also been given the autonomy of merging our ideas, life experiences, and Boston’s local realities to create a community that works for all of us.”     -Andrew Huff, 2015-16 Boston Fellow

What will I learn?

At the heart of the year is a deep emphasis on reflection. In regular one-on-one meetings with a spiritual nurturer, in a structured group setting with other Fellows, and in many informal ways, you will find both the space and the supportive context to engage difficult questions that arise through your work and life together. Particular attention will be given in these exercises and relationships to places of stretching or challenge as your spiritual understanding shifts and deepens to engage the injustice, inequality, privilege, and suffering that is an inevitable part of work for social justice and to learn skills to sustain you on this journey for the long haul. Through work and reflection, learning to listen to the guiding voice of your Inner-teacher, you will be led into a life marked by courage and creativity, responding to the movement of love and wisdom.

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What other benefits does QVS offer?
  • After you complete a year of service with QVS, you will be eligible for a full tuition scholarship to Earlham School of Religion. Find more information here.
  • QVS is a member of the Volunteers Exploring Vocation network, which includes more than 15 other national faith based year of service programs. As part of this network, QVS Fellows are able to access a host of resources including retreats and grant opportunities. Learn more here.
  • As mentioned above, QVS supports Fellows to attend a range of events during the year. Examples include the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s fall or spring lobby weekends in DC and the Friends General Conference summer Gathering.
How is the education structured?

Every other Friday you do not work at your service site but instead will spend that day with the other QVS Fellows, staff, and local supporters; we call those days QVS Days. On those days you will engage in a variety of activities including discussing shared readings, visiting local sites of interest, learning from outside resource people and facilitators, and exploring your city. For much of the year, these days will be planned and led by you and your other Fellows based on your needs and interests, with support from staff.

Additionally, you will attend a week-long orientation with all QVS Fellows from across the country, a mid year retreat and a closing retreat. There will also be opportunities throughout the year for you to participate in related events and conferences such as Friends Committee on National Legislation’s lobby trainings and Pendle Hill’s Young Adult Friends Conference..

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What is the experience with local Quakers like?

QVS is in partnership with local Quaker meetings in all of our cities, which you are asked to participate in as you can. Additionally, each Fellow is partnered with one “Spiritual Nurturer,” a one-on-one mentoring and listening relationship. There is also a local support committee made up of volunteers and alumni who provide support, hospitality, grounding and fellowship, and can connect you to the many things going on in your city.

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How can I afford a year of service?

We know that for some, the idea of a year of service seems out of the question due to financial concerns, student loan debt, and other economic pressures. While a year of simple living on a small stipend is certainly not for everyone, we encourage you to consider all of the ways you will be supported during your year with QVS.

Economically, It is our goal that every QVS Fellow leave the year in a financial situation similar to the one they entered in. And while a year of simple living may not increase your financial wealth, it does give you access to social and personal capital which you will carry with you your whole life.

Please carefully consider all of these factors as you assess whether you can “afford” to do a year of service, and please be in touch if you wish to talk any of this through with our staff.

How does the money work?

You will receive housing in a fully furnished shared home, utilities, internet, support for health and wellness, including access to health insurance and mental health support, a shared grocery and food allowance, which can also be used for over-the-counter medication and toiletry items, a public transit pass, and an additional stipend of $125 a month for personal use. Upon successful completion of the QVS year you will receive a $500 exit stipend. QVS also provides educational opportunities and paid attendance to some conferences throughout the year. Local Quakers have agreed to help provide used household items to the house as requested.

You will be expected to get yourself to Philadelphia for national orientation, and QVS will cover your travel costs from there. You are also responsible for your own cell phone bill should you choose to have one.

What if I'm considering going to graduate school?

A program like QVS is a wonderful opportunity to take some time to learn more about your passions, skills, and goals. Often, QVS Fellows discern an educational or vocational pathway forward based on their work, community, or spiritual experiences and explorations during the QVS year.

Sometimes QVS Fellows are actively applying to a graduate program during their QVS year. While we support these next steps, it is also important that Fellows be fully present to the experience understand that the QVS year is very full and busy, and applying to graduate school can take up a lot of time. Please feel free to talk more about this with QVS staff so that we can help you discern whether this is the right time for you to consider QVS.

Additionally, if you are interested in theological education, after you complete a year of service with QVS, you will be eligible for a full tuition scholarship to Earlham School of Religion. Find more information at http://esr.earlham.edu/news-events/news/esr-supports-volunteer-service-new-scholarship

How do I apply?

You will need to fill out our online application at: https://www.quakervoluntaryservice.org/apply/ The application includes several short essays and three references. Please remember to ask your references to submit their references before the March 10 deadline.

What is the application timeline?

Timeline:

(This is our intended timeline though it is subject to change, we will keep you updated of any changes)

 

  • March 10: QVS Fellow applications and references due.
  • March 21-30: QVS Staff will hold first round interviews to discern compatibility with the program, and applicants will be preliminarily assigned to a city.
  • April 11-15: Second round interviews will be held with site placement organization supervisors.
  • April 20: Sites and applicants let QVS know ranking and top choices after the second round interviews.
  • By May 1: QVS Staff thoughtfully match accepted applicants with a site placement agency.
  • May 5: Fellow commitments are due to QVS.
  • By May 23: Fellows, Agencies, and QVS sign contracts.
  • September 3-7: National Orientation
Do you accept international applicants?
We welcome international applicants and encourage you to apply for the QVS program. We do ask that if accepted to the program, you secure your own visa – this means researching what you will need, applying for, and paying for the visa. We will provide any supporting documentation you need to demonstrate proof of acceptance into the program, but can’t apply for the visa for you. Our international Fellows in the past have had B-1 or OPT visas.
Does QVS pay for travel to and from the program?
We ask that all Fellows (regardless of city or country of origin) make arrangements for and pay for travel to our national orientation in Philadelphia in September. Following orientation, QVS pays for the flight/travel (including two checked bags) from Philadelphia back to the assigned QVS city. At the end of the year, Fellows who complete the program receive an exit stipend to use at their discretion (travel back to their home city, apartment deposits, etc.), but we do not pay for travel after the program ends in July. 
Are there any vacations or breaks during the QVS year?

In addition to holidays recognized by your site placement, all QVS Fellows and staff will have two days off at Thanksgiving, five days off around Christmas, and an additional six vacation days to be worked out directly with your site placement agency. Additionally, you will receive two professional development days to attend Quaker conferences during the year and, if in some cases, a day or two to return to your alma mater for outreach and recruitment.

Do I have to be a Quaker?

No. QVS is open to persons from all traditions and there are always participants from non-Quaker backgrounds.

Quakerism is an experiential path. There is no dogma or creed. However, like other contemplative traditions, there are practices that Friends have found help cultivate a rich inner-life of compassion and wisdom. We hope that your year, in conversation with these spiritual practices, will help you better attend to the source in which we “live, and move, and have our being,” a source that can serve as solid ground for a well-lived life dedicated to service and justice, regardless of your religious identity or non-identity. In short, will will ask you to “try on” the Quaker way for the QVS year.

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Do I have to be a college graduate?

No. While some of our site placement agencies will give preference to college graduates, it is not a QVS requirement.

I am not between the ages of 21-30. Can I still apply?

QVS was formed out of a clear leading to provide much needed opportunities and support for young adults, and for now that is our focus. There are many ways for Friends of other ages to be involved in our work, like helping us spread the word to local meetings, help with recruitment of young adults, donating, and collecting stories of Quaker service. Depending on where you are, you could also get involved in a Local Support Committee or become a Spiritual Nurturer. You can stay in touch and learn more about us by subscribing to our newsletter. Alternatively, the Catholic Volunteer Network provides a directory of service programs along with the ability to search for programs by age range, marital status and geographical area. You can look for opportunities at https://catholicvolunteernetwork.org/search-program.

Do I have to raise any money?

Like most yearlong service programs, you are asked to raise a portion of your living expenses for your year with QVS. It costs QVS approximately $25,000 per year per Fellow to cover your housing, living expenses, insurance, training, retreats, conferences and events, and staff support. You are expected to raise just $2,000 of that total cost by the end of your service year. You are encouraged to have a portion, but not all, of the money raised before the year begins. Participation in the program is not dependent upon your ability to raise the funds, though we expect an earnest effort to meet the goal. We offer a lot of support and suggestions for how to accomplish this, so please do not let this be a barrier to applying. There will also likely be opportunities to fundraise as a group throughout the year, and within the sponsoring meeting community.

Does QVS provide support for my student loans?

Yes. QVS staff will provide you with student loan counseling, as needed. If your loans are Federal Student loans, you will most likely be able to pay nothing, with little to no interest accrual, even while having the year count towards loan forgiveness. For other student loans, QVS can provide financial support for the cost accrued related to your loans during your service year. Please let us know as soon as you are accepted if this is something you will need help with, and we will provide more information.

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