Background Screening through Verified Volunteers | Student Science

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Background Screening through Verified Volunteers

Society for Science & the Public (the Society) is a nonprofit 501(c) (3) membership organization dedicated to public engagement in scientific research and education.  We manage three prestigious science competitions:  the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the Regeneron Science Talent Search and the Broadcom MASTERS

The management of these competitions depends on the hard work and support of volunteers – in the case of Intel ISEF – thousands of judges, interpreters, committee members and general volunteers. Because our competitions involve minors, it has become Society policy to screen all volunteers through a consumer/investigative consumer report. This has become a standard in education practices and is for the protection of all involved.

The Society has chosen a top rated background screening vendor, Verified Volunteers. We have chosen this third-party vendor to ensure that the background screening is done with the most professional standards possible, in full compliance with federal laws and to protect the privacy of our volunteers. Verified Volunteers has an added benefit of allowing you to link this background check to other volunteer organizations within their network if you choose. 

Verified Volunteers partner with Points of Light, the world's largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, the HandsOn Network and other well-known national partners such as Girl Scouts, Meals on Wheels, AJFCA and Catholic Charities of America. 

Background screening vendors must abide by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) as well as the National Child Protection Act (NCPA). Because the FCRA covers a broad array of information obtained about an individual during any type of search initiated by a an individual on behalf of an employer, credit agency, volunteer organization etc., the information about the screening includes much more than will be conducted for the screening that the Society will order. 

The Society will order a level two advanced criminal locator check. This background check searches 4 databases:

  • Social Security Trace is performed if the volunteer chooses to provide their Social Securtiy Number. This search identifies places where the individual has lived and alias names used within the last 7 years.
  • The 50 State DOJ Registered Sex Offender checks the Federal Department of Justice database which includes the listing of registered sex offenders for all 50 States – except Nevada, which currently has an injunction in place.
  • The Government Watch List Search identifies individuals and companies, owned, controlled by, or acting on behalf of countries targeted by US foreign policy as terrorists and narcotics traffickers. These individuals are identified as Specially Designated Nationals ("SDN"). The SDN search is conducted using documentation provided by the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC").
  • The Advanced Criminal Record Locator Search first looks for criminal records in your current county of residence jurisdiction. Then it checks a nationwide criminal database to identify any further records in places you have lived and/or visited. All reported criminal history is validated at the primary source of information.

The background check is valid for one year of service and must be renewed annually. The full costs of the background screening process are being paid for by the Society.

Background Check FAQ

What follows is a FAQ regarding the screening process and Society policy. We have also provided additional resources about background screening processes and privacy protections. If you have further questions please feel free call the Society at 202-785-2255. You can also email us if you volunteer with any of our programs or more specifically if you are a judge or volunteer for Intel ISEF.

Is everyone required to have a background check conducted?
How long will my information be stored in the Verified Volunteers Database?
Will my information be shared or exchanged?
How is my background check reviewed? Is it entirely confidential?
After my volunteer service has been completed, will the Society continue to check my background since Verified Volunteers will continue to run background checks monthly for an entire year?
Why does Verified Volunteers need to pull my background check for an entire year when volunteer service is limited to a few days?
What type of information is Verified Volunteers screening and how does that impact my report?
Can I receive a copy of my background check?
If my report comes back with information that is incorrect how can I repair it?

Is everyone required to have a background check conducted?

Yes, the Society requires that all volunteers who support the educational programs must have a background check completed.  

How long will my information be stored in the Verified Volunteers Database?

In compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Verified Volunteers is required by law to store the information for 3 years.

Will my information be shared or exchanged?

No, your information will remain in the Verified Volunteer database only and will never be shared. 

How is my background check reviewed? Is it entirely confidential?

Your background check is completely confidential. The results are returned to the Verified Volunteers portal and will remain in the strictest confidence.

After my volunteer service has been completed, will the Society continue to check my background since Verified Volunteers will continue to run background checks monthly for an entire year?

No, once the event is complete the database will become inactive. However, the Verified Volunteers system will continue to update your background check profile for a full year.

Why does Verified Volunteers need to pull my background check for an entire year when volunteer service is limited to a few days?

The Verified Volunteer system is designed with a volunteer cycle spanning the course of a full year. This is a business process that is not negotiable. This enables Verified Volunteers to pull all background checks leading up to our event in case new information becomes available impacting your role as a volunteer.

What type of information is Verified Volunteers screening and how does that impact my report?

Please see the bullet points listed above.

Can I receive a copy of my background check?

Yes, you may contact Verified Volunteers by email and reference Society for Science & the Public to obtain a free copy of your background check.

If my report comes back with information that is incorrect how can I repair it?

Verified Volunteers will help you dispute any incorrect information with documented proof of the error. Please contact them by email or at 855-326-1860. 

Additional Resources

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