How to Host a VISTA Member
Are you a nonprofit organization based in one of Colorado’s rural communities? Does your organization address poverty alleviation in rural Colorado? Do you have a project or program that you want to get off the ground but lack capacity to do so?
CRC runs what we like to call a “rural intermediary” VISTA program. This means that CRC holds the federal grant directly from AmeriCorps, the agency that administers VISTA programs nationwide. By taking on the administrative, reporting and financial responsibilities of managing the VISTA grant, CRC is able to provide easy access to VISTA members for organizations that most need the capacity building support.
The Rural Capacity Building VISTA Project primarily focuses on rural-based agencies with supplemental placements in Front-Range agencies to impact outcomes for underserved communities and/or larger statewide efforts.
Read below to learn more about CRC’s AmeriCorps VISTA program and how you can host a VISTA member in your own community.
What IS an AmeriCorps VISTA Member?
VISTA stands for Volunteers in Service to America, and is a national service program that seeks to fight poverty in America. AmeriCorps VISTA members make a year-long, full-time commitment to focus their efforts to build the organizational, administrative and financial capacity of organizations that fight illiteracy, improve health services, foster economic development, and assist low-income communities.
AmeriCorps VISTA is a program of the federal AmeriCorps agency.
What can a VISTA Member do for my organization?
VISTA members enable an organization to turn dream projects into reality. They mobilize local human, financial, and material resources to expand the capacity of low-income communities to build on their own resources and address the challenges they face. VISTA members around the country are involved with:
- Project Management and Expansion
- Fund Development
- Volunteer Engagement and Management
- Community Outreach
- Convening Stakeholders
To learn more about how VISTA members directly benefit and build capacity for organizations across Colorado, download our 2017 Rural VISTA Snapshot.
Capacity Building is defined as tasks and activities to create, expand or strengthen systems or processes in order to increase an organization’s ability to function effectively and meet its mission. VISTA members do not take part in direct service activities. Instead, they take part in capacity building activities that aim to make an organization self-sustainable.
What IS an AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate (VSA)?
VISTA stands for Volunteers in Service to America, and is a national service program that seeks to fight poverty in America. Unlike year-round members, summer associates can perform direct service activities without limitation. Summer associate members serve for intensive, short terms of service lasting eight, nine, or ten weeks.
Summer associate activities, combined with ongoing VISTA programming, should result in:
- A credible effort to alleviate poverty
- Outcomes that increase the project’s direct impact on those being served
- Specific member assignments may vary. For example, summer associates could:
- Recruit, train, and coordinate community based volunteers, including high school and college students and older adults
- Structure long-term ways for involving community members in project activities
- Generate materials, supplies, and space for the project
- Involve the private sector in the project
- Develop materials for year-round project activities
- Conduct community education, outreach, and awareness related to the project
Host Sites interested in bringing on VSA Members in 2022 should plan to apply by the priority application deadline of January 17th. Reach out to a CRC VISTA Team Member to learn more about this opportunity, and apply today!
What are the costs associated with hosting a VISTA Member?
CRC’s VISTA program is designed to provide organizations affordable access to national services members, without taking on the administrative costs and responsibilities of managing the federal VISTA grant.
The following are the financial commitments of hosting a VISTA member with the Rural Capacity Building VISTA Project:
- Host Site Fee of 80% of the VISTA member’s total annual living stipend, which vary by county. Annual member living stipends are determined at the federal level and vary anywhere from $15,000 to $18,000 in Colorado.
- Allowance Increase: The federal AmeriCorps agency updates member stipend amounts every year in July/August – some counties experience an increase, some do not. Host Site Fee totals may be subject to increase at that time pending update to the county rate.
- Mileage reimbursement for any work related travel that the VISTA member must do during their term. This does not include a daily commute.
- Expense reimbursement for any work related out of pocket expenses the VISTA member might accrue.
- Indirect costs such as workspace, equipment (computer, phone/ etc.) and supervision time.
- Relocation and rental assistance for the member (optional, but encouraged).
- Professional development and emergency budgets (optional, but encouraged).
Are you eligible to host a VISTA Member?
Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) is an anti-poverty program designed to provide needed resources to nonprofit organizations and public agencies to increase their capacity to lift communities out of poverty.
- In order to receive AmeriCorps VISTA resources an organization or agency must be able to demonstrate a clear tie to poverty alleviation in their work. This connection can be holistic, but must be strong in order to receive approval from the federal AmeriCorps agency.
- Public, private, or faith-based nonprofit organizations as well as local or state agencies can become an AmeriCorps VISTA Host Site.
Are you ready to host a VISTA Member? Does your organization:
- Have the staff capacity to supervise a full-time AmeriCorps member?
- This includes weekly check-ins and day-to-day supervision.
- Have the ability to provide a clean, collaborative workspace?
- Have the ability to commit to a year-long term?
- Have the ability to commit financially?
- Understand whether you need indirect service or direct service capacity?
- AmeriCorps VISTA is an indirect service program. If you are looking for direct service capacity reach out to Serve Colorado.
If you can answer YES to all these questions, we invite you to apply using our formal online application system. As part of the application, you will be asked to submit a drafted position description (i.e. what do you envision your VISTA member doing within the organization?).
Host Site Application Schedule:
- January 31st application deadline for the summer placement cycle
- July 31st application deadline for the winter placement cycle
- Special rolling opportunities – contact CRC to learn more
If you have questions about CRC’s VISTA Program or if you plan to apply please reach out to our AmeriCorps Program Manager, Megan Carter.