SPOKANE COUNTY UNITED WAY AND AMERICORPS VISTA: BUILDING LOCAL CAPACITY TOGETHER
Spokane County United Way manages the selection and support of AmeriCorps VISTA projects and members in Spokane County in coordination with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Currently we host a VISTA Leader, 14 projects and the Summer Associates program in our community.
By supporting VISTA projects we strengthen and build capacity in local programs that align with our vision for a more educated, healthier and prosperous community. The consistent goal for every AmeriCorps VISTA project is the sustainability of the project by the sponsoring agency and community after AmeriCorps VISTA sponsorship ends.
What is VISTA?
VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) was founded in 1965 as a national service program designed to fight poverty in America. In 1993, VISTA was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs. Many of the best-known anti-poverty programs, including Head Start and Upward Bound, were created by VISTA members. VISTA has been on the front lines in the fight against poverty in America for 50 years.
Each AmeriCorps VISTA project is granted for up to three years to build capacity and sustainability for an organization or program. VISTA Members agree to serve for one year and may sign on for a second or even a third year if it’s beneficial to both the organization and the VISTA. VISTA Members aren’t able to perform direct service but rather, focus on indirect service and capacity-building (please see attached document for examples of types of service). Projects must have a focus on poverty elimination in the areas of economic opportunity, education, healthy futures, and/or veterans and military families. Projects focused on opioid addiction prevention and recovery are particularly encouraged.
Our Goals Align Directly With the Following AmeriCorps VISTA Focus Areas:
- Economic Opportunity: Fighting poverty by creating businesses, expanding access to technology, recruiting volunteers to teach literacy and strengthening antipoverty groups.
- Education: Increasing access to services and resources to improve educational outcomes from school readiness to K-12 and post-secondary access and success.
- Healthy Futures: Building resilience and changing lives by keeping children nurtured and safe; promoting healthy choices through education and outreach, drug and alcohol prevention and recovery, and connecting low-income families to health services.
Additional AmeriCorps VISTA Focus Areas:
- Veterans and Military Families: Supporting projects that focus on low-income veterans and military families’ economic opportunity, educational success, and healthy futures.
- Disaster Recovery: Long-term disaster recovery projects, particularly those focused on providing housing, promoting restoration, and initiatives that address the long-term needs of affected, low-income populations.
What Do VISTA Members Do?
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. 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. Over 8,000 VISTAs are placed each year in more than 3,000 sites across the U.S.
The Benefits of Service
AmeriCorps VISTA Members use their skills, talents, and motivation to strengthen communities. Members also gain new abilities, earn valuable professional experience, and deepen their understanding of the complexities of poverty.
AmeriCorps VISTA members receive a modest living allowance and health benefits during their service, and receive their choice of either a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award OR an end-or-service stipend after completing their service. AmeriCorps VISTA is the only AmeriCorps program to offer federal non-competitive eligibility for Federal jobs. While 70% of VISTA Members serve in their hometown, there is a relocation travel allowance for those seeking experience in a new community.
For program inquiries or involvement opportunities please contact Aiden Sanders, VISTA Program Director