Did you know that President John F. Kennedy came up with the idea for VISTA? Or that many of the best-known anti-poverty programs, including Head Start and credit unions, were created by VISTA members? VISTA has been on the front lines in the fight against poverty in America for 50 years.
Throughout 2015, we will recognize 50 years of Volunteers In Service To America. VISTA was founded in 1965 as a national service program to fight poverty in America. In 1993, VISTA was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs.
Today, more than 46 million Americans live in poverty. AmeriCorps VISTA taps the skills, talents and passion of more than 7,000 Americans annually to support community efforts to overcome poverty.
By serving with AmeriCorps VISTA, you can make a tangible difference. And, you’ll find the fulfillment that comes from using your knowledge and skills to help those in disadvantaged circumstances turn their dreams into reality.
Become an AmeriCorps VISTA Member
AmeriCorps VISTA members are passionate and committed to their mission to bring individuals and communities out of poverty. Members make a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency. They focus their efforts to build the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of organizations that fight illiteracy, improve health services, foster economic development, and otherwise assist low-income communities.
A number of members serve in the summer months through the AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate program
. The program offers members the opportunity to become engaged in community service through an existing AmeriCorps VISTA project for eight to 10 weeks during the summer.
AmeriCorps VISTA is open to all U.S. citizens, nationals, or lawful permanent resident aliens age 18 and older. Members and Summer Associates receive a modest living allowance. Members who serve for a year also receive limited health benefit options, childcare, if needed, and other benefits. After successful completion of a term of service, members can choose to receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award
or post-service stipend.
What AmeriCorps VISTA Members Do
AmeriCorps VISTA members live and serve in some of our nation’s poorest urban and rural areas. With passion, commitment, and hard work, they create or expand programs designed to bring individuals and communities out of poverty.
Each VISTA member makes a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency. In return for their service, AmeriCorps VISTA members receive a modest living allowance and health benefits during their service, and have the option of receiving a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award or post-service stipend after completing their service. About 8,000 VISTAs are placed each year in more than 1,100 projects in low-income communities around the country
VISTA members generally do not provide direct services, such as tutoring children or building homes. Instead, they focus their efforts on building the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of organizations that fight illiteracy, improve health services, foster economic develop, and otherwise assist low-income communities. VISTAs develop programs to meet a need, write grants, and recruit and train volunteers. As a VISTA, you can:
- Create an adult literacy awareness campaign and recruit volunteer tutors.
- Set up transitional housing dedicated to helping the homeless turn their lives around.
- Expand programs to help low-income families obtain affordable health insurance.
- Recruit mentors for children of incarcerated parents.
- Organize shelter and job opportunities for victims of disasters.
In each case, you’ll be strengthening an organization so it can continue to serve the needs of the community once AmeriCorps VISTA’s support has ended.