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.