What is the AmeriCorps VISTA Program?
The AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program is sponsored by the Corporation for National & Community Service and places individuals in non-profits and government agencies to work on programs that aim towards the reduction of poverty in low-income communities. AmeriCorps VISTA members commit to 365 days of service, and essentially serve as capacity builders for their assigned organizations, i.e. they work to increase the ability of their organization to accomplish its mission.
What can an AmeriCorps VISTA do for my organization?
AmeriCorps VISTA members are program developers for their organizations. They work to increase the resources of their organization. Through the service of a VISTA member, an organization might be able to do what they do better. VISTAs may be involved in grant writing, fundraising, volunteer recruitment, community outreach, program development and evaluation, and economic development. Current VISTAs are involved in a wide array of activities including elderly independence, homeless prevention, health care access, school retention, enhancing opportunities with low income populations, among other service areas.
What are the accomplishments of recent AmeriCorps VISTA members?
The accomplishments of AmeriCorps VISTA members are many and varied. Here's a sampling of contributions from recent VISTA Members:
- Generated $37,000 in grant revenue to help support revitalization efforts along the Fourth Plain Corridor in Vancouver.
- Sheltered and fed 245 homeless people, including 27 children, through the Winter Hospitality Overflow Program at the Council for the Homeless.
- Coordination between the Vancouver Housing Authority and various community partners to develop a summer job fair that was attended by 400 young people in Clark County.
- Under the Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisor program one individual saved $15,430 for the year on their prescriptions.
- The Student Learning Center at Clark College hosted its annual tutor recognition event to honor more than 122 tutors for their donation of more than 6,700 service hours.
What organizations have recently hosted AmeriCorps VISTA members?
A variety of organizations have hosted AmeriCorps VISTA members and these sites include:
- Free Clinic of Southwest Washington- Vancouver, WA
- Evergreen Habitat for Humanity - Vancouver, WA
- Lutheran Community Services NW - Vancouver, WA
- Washington Gorge Action Programs - Bingen, WA
- Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors - Vancouver, WA
- Vancouver Housing Authority - Vancouver, WA
- Winter Hospitality Overflow - Vancouver, WA
What are the next steps if our agency is interested in hosting an AmeriCorps VISTA project?
Step 1 - Contact the AmeriCorps VISTA supervisor (Marsha Freshwater, (360) 735-3689, firstname.lastname@example.org at the Human Services Council.
Step 2 - Develop a VISTA Project Proposal, VISTA Assignment Description (VAD) and a Project Plan.
Step 3 - Once approved by the Human Services Council and the State Office, your project is posted on the national AmeriCorps website.
Step 4 - Potential candidates can be interviewed, selection made, and your candidate may begin service upon completion of a required 3-1/2 day of specialized training (Pre-Service Orientation - PSO).
What is the cost of an AmeriCorps VISTA member?
The cost of an AmeriCorps VISTA member to your organization will vary depending upon the year of participation in the program. Generally your costs will increase during each of the three years of your participation in the VISTA program. Our current administrative fees range from $4500-$6750, and may increase annually.
What services are provided by the Human Services Council, Volunteer Connections Program?
The Human Services Council is the primary liaison between the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the local project site. HSC assists with the overall coordination, recruitment and placement of VISTA members. HSC monitors the VISTA member's progress based on team meetings, site visits, progress reports, and conversations with the VISTA member and/or supervisor. The program manager and VISTA leader will provide technical assistance and consultation throughout the VISTA's year of service. Finally, HSC will coordinate trainings and community service events with ample notice for full team participation.
What are the other requirements that my organization must agree to in order to host an AmeriCorps VISTA member?
The most important thing that an organization can do to contribute to the success of an AmeriCorps VISTA member is to foster an open and supportive learning environment, welcoming the VISTA as a member of the work team. To do this, the organization and the supervisor should:
- Provide adequate workspace for the VISTA member, including telephone and computer access that would lead to program success.
- Meet with the VISTA member on a regular basis (minimum one hour per week) to provide direction, assist with problem solving, and recognize achievements.
- Discuss any changes necessary in the project work plan with the VISTA member.
- Review and complete quarterly project progress reports.
- Inform the VISTA Program Manager regarding the performance and acclimation of the VISTA member.
- Allow VISTA member to attend all mandatory AmeriCorps VISTA obligations (i.e. trainings and community service events). Help coordinate/alleviate workloads to make participation in AmeriCorps VISTA events an important part of the VISTA experience.
Who is the typical AmeriCorps VISTA member?
There are many individuals that serve as AmeriCorps VISTA members. They can be recent college graduates, have years of work experience, or may be considering a career change. A VISTA member may be reentering the workforce after years of taking care of a family. Some members are older, envisioning an opportunity for full-time service. Wherever their individual journeys, they are generally people interested in helping to make their communities a better place to live. They typically have college degrees, and many have significant experience serving their communities.
What are the benefits that AmeriCorps VISTA members receive for one year of service?
AmeriCorps VISTA members receive many benefits including ongoing training opportunities, volunteer management and program development experience. Each member will receive a monthly subsistence stipend, generally indexed to 100% of the federal poverty level for a single adult. During their service year they will have access to basic health coverage and upon successfully completing their service year will also have a choice of either an educational or cash stipend awarded to them as well as other benefits if eligible.
Current AmeriCorps VISTA positions:
Vancouver Housing Authority Resident Employment Program - As an AmeriCorps VISTA member at the Vancouver Housing Authority, you will serve to create a program that creates a structure for residents to gain employment readiness, training, and skills to ensure that clients can become successful employees. Your role will be to work closely with staff to refine the current employment related support systems, develop and execute strategies to enlarge the pool of participating employers and residents, develop a youth career exploration education program, and increase the VHA's capacity to expand on-the-job training programs and temporary positions.
You may search for AmeriCorps positions throughout the United States HERE
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