Welcome to the VISTA Strong Communities Program!

VISTA is a subset of the AmeriCorps program, a subset funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). VISTAs are full-time volunteers who commit to a year of service combatting poverty by partnering with local government agencies, nonprofits, and educational institutions. Specifically, they work to expand the capacity of the institution where they serve, creating sustainable solutions that endure after their term of service ends. VISTAs are distinct from employees in that the federal government pays them a stipend, and unlike interns, they volunteer full-time for a whole year. Instead of doing direct service, VISTAs set up systems and projects that empower the whole community. For example, instead of handing out food at a food bank, a VISTA might develop a system for cataloguing food by expiration date to reduce waste.

VISTAs mobilize local resources, build organizational capacity and empower communities in development. What this looks like varies by organization; some nonprofits need internal support, while others want to start a new outreach program. If you have a project that you’ve been hoping to turn into a reality, but haven’t had a dedicated person able to take it on for a prolonged period of time, a VISTA might be the perfect solution.

VISTAs come from all different backgrounds, from recent graduates looking to gain meaningful work experience to recent retirees hoping to give back to their communities. Approximately 70% of VISTAs serve in their local communities. VISTAs have a variety of different skills and levels of experience which organizations can put to use to make a difference.

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History and Impact of the AmeriCorps VISTA Program

The VISTA program was founded in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, following on President Kennedy’s dream for a national version of the Peace Corps. By 1966 over 3,000 volunteers were serving all over the United States. In 1973 it was certified under the Domestic Volunteer Service Act, which continues to govern its principles and organization. In 1993 it was incorporated into the AmeriCorps program, a division of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

Today, CNCS engages 324,000 Americans in service across the country, including more than 8,000 VISTAs. Those 8,000 VISTAS recruit an estimated million volunteers a year and raise nearly $200 million in cash and in-kind donations. These efforts, in turn, strengthen nonprofits and the volunteer sector, expand education opportunities and develop future leaders, as well as leverage a powerful return on investment.

Program Updates & VISTA Spotlight

Curious about what our VISTA members work on?

Each month, we’ll profile one of our VISTA members here, shining a spotlight on the amazing work that they do for the community. Check back regularly for more updates!

November 17, 2020

VISTA Spotlight: Erin Doolin

As an AmeriCorps VISTA, Erin works with the Corporate Development Team at Manna, Inc, a nonprofit, affordable housing developer.

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November 17, 2020

VISTA Spotlight: Susanna Penfield

Susanna began her AmeriCorps VISTA term at the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA), in anticipation of the NACEDA Summit 2020.

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October 20, 2020

VISTA Spotlight: Brandi Muller

As an AmeriCorps VISTA, Brandi works on the Housing Development and Genesis Intergenerational programs at Mi Casa, Inc., to establish and manage a database that tracks outcomes for the affordable housing work of each program.

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October 15, 2020

VISTA Spotlight: Rachel Wertz

In her work as an AmeriCorps VISTA, Rachel started her service with Walker’s Legacy as their Eco-System Entrepreneurship Research and Best Practices Support Analyst to work on bringing more efforts around multicultural women in entrepreneurship.

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September 15, 2020

VISTA Spotlight: Selena Duvivier

In her work as an AmeriCorps VISTA, Selena works with the Resident Services team at the National Housing Trust (NHT) to develop and implement onsite services for families living in NHT-owned affordable housing communities.

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