VISTA photooCAC AmeriCorps’ VISTA program engages members of all ages supporting organizations focused on eliminating poverty in our region. AmeriCorps VISTA is a national service program that engages individuals in a full year of service (usually August – August) to their communities. Specifically, VISTA members serve to build capacity in organizations that are fighting poverty through access to resources such as job skill development, access to healthy foods, and access to health care.

CAC AmeriCorps VISTA is currently accepting proposals for new VISTA projects – Find out more here!

VISTA photo

What is a VISTA Project?

The goal of VISTA projects are to build capacity in organizations that serve low-income populations. Capacity building is defined by AmeriCorps as, “Working with project staff and the community to create, expand, or strengthen systems and processes to increase an organization’s effectiveness.” VISTA members are meant to serve as a short-term resource to help organizations achieve lasting solutions and programming in their fight against poverty. Typically, these projects are meant to be completed by the end of a 3-year cycle, and are able to sustain themselves after the VISTA has left, but can be extended depending on the project.

VISTA projects are restricted in allowable activities, and VISTA members are not to participate in direct service. Here are examples of differences in capacity building vs. direct service:

CAPACITY BUILDING
Recruiting volunteers to build houses
Developing a database of mentors
Writing an educational curriculum
Building organizational relationships
Organizing a fundraiser

DIRECT SERVICE
Building houses
Mentoring students
Teaching a course or hosting a workshop
Delivering Mobile Meals
Providing health screening services

Outcomes from VISTA projects include the ability to increase services, a strengthened organizational capacity, improved organizational infrastructure, and increased operational resources.

Who is eligible to host a VISTA?

Any tax-exempt organization interested in increasing its capacity to fight poverty is eligible to host a VISTA. However, successfully hosting a VISTA member requires a clear set of achievable goals, a strategic plan for reaching those goals, and the capacity to supervise and mentor the VISTA member. AmeriCorps VISTA members cannot serve in a direct or staff capacity and are not allowed to displace staff members or volunteers.

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