Rural AmeriCorps Programs

Providing affordable resources and access to national service members for nonprofits in Colorado’s rural communities


More than 5,100 nonprofit organizations operate within rural Colorado. These organizations play an important role in improving the quality of life in Colorado’s communities and provide services that alleviate poverty, addressing everything from transitional housing to early childhood education to strengthening local food systems. In order to build the capacity of rural nonprofits to more effectively address key factors that influence poverty in our state’s communities, more effectively deliver services and further mission impact, CRC is providing a limited number of AmeriCorps members to our rural nonprofit partners across the state.

CRC runs two distinct AmeriCorps programs to meet the unique needs of rural organizations:

  • Our AmeriCorps VISTA program provides national service members who deliver indirect services to build the organizational, administrative and financial capacity of nonprofit organizations.
  • Our AmeriCorps STATE program provides national service members who deliver direct services to further program delivery and increase impact by working directly with clients.

Please read below for more information about these two streams of service, to help you identify what program and type of service member might be the best fit for your organization.

How to Host an AmeriCorps Member in Your Community

Join CRC for an informational webinar or in-person session to learn more about the application process, requirements, cost and the timeline to apply! Apply for an AmeriCorps member by the end of January 2019 to begin hosting a member as soon as August of 2019.

Register for a webinar or in-person session through CRC’s events calendar using the tag #AmeriCorps or #VISTA

AmeriCorps VISTA

Program Goals:

Grow Organizational Capacity: Nonprofits and community groups in rural Colorado grow in organizational capacity and gain additional resources to accomplish their missions.

Provide Professional Development: VISTA members have a positive experience during which they increase in ability and gain valuable insight for future studies and employment.

Alleviate Poverty: Persistent poverty in rural Colorado is reduced.

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 Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

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.

How do you define rural capacity building?

2016 RPD regional mapCapacity 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.

Our statewide Rural Philanthropy Days program has identified eight rural regions consisting of 52 counties. We are looking for nonprofit organizations in these eight rural regions to host AmeriCorps VISTA members. The VISTA members will bring their capacity building skills to rural Colorado in order to grow organizational capacity and move the community towards alleviating poverty.

AmeriCorps VISTA Member Benefits

As an AmeriCorps VISTA member you will:

  • Gain indirect service experience and skills in nonprofit best practices
  • Serve a full-time for one year at a host site organization in rural Colorado
  • Receive an annual living stipend and access to healthcare and child care
  • Upon completion of service will be eligible to receive education award of $6,095 or end-of-year stipend of $1,800
  • Attend CRC member orientation and have access to free professional development opportunities throughout the year
  • Become part of a statewide network of national service members and build lasting relationships in our state’s vibrant communities

Ready to Host a VISTA member?

Does your organization:

  • Have the staff capacity to supervise a full-time AmeriCorps member?
  • 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?

Meet Our Rural VISTAs

Anna-Claire Griffin

Community Outreach Coordinator at Summit School District Pre-Collegiate Program

Anna is from Iuka, Mississippi. She earned her B.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications from the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). During college she worked in the Campus Recreation department for intramurals as referee, supervisor, and program assistant. When she was not at school or working, she was the president of the Special Olympics College at Ole Miss.  For her service year, she looks forward to accumulating more volunteers for the Pre-Collegiate program of Summit School District and building capacity within the program. Her goal is to have all of their first-generation seniors attend college.

Ashley Kumburis

Food Security Program Coordinator at Mountain Roots Food Project

Ashley Kumburis is a recent grad from Western Colorado University with a Masters degree in Environmental Management. She loves the outdoors and spends her free time hiking, mountain biking, camping, fishing, or hunting. She’s a big animal lover and has adopted a dog, cat, and mixed flock of ducks and chickens into her family. She’s currently based in Gunnison, Colorado with Mountain Roots Food Project. There, she’s the Food Security Program Coordinator helping to fight the war on hunger in the valley. She works to teach people how to provide for their own food needs through education, aggregate donations from backyard gardeners and distributors for their free CSA styled boxes, teaching cooking classes for families on a budget, and collaborating with other organizations and working groups. She’s most excited to pilot new programs and adapt current ones to meet the never-ending demand for the services MRFP provides.

Matthew Spencer

Outreach Coordinator at Families Plus

Matt grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado. He graduated from the University of Evansville with a BA in History. He is now serving his VISTA year at Families Plus in Delta, Colorado. Matt hopes to take the skills he learns while serving and continue work to help strengthen communities. When not in the office Matt can be found climbing, hiking, or rafting in the Rockies.

Hope Mazeika

Early Childhood Systems Building VISTA at Grand Beginnings

Hope is a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania where she studied Environmental Science. Since she was 15, Hope has worked with summer camps as a counselor and mentor for younger children. After graduating from Pitt, Hope decided to take her education and experiences to the other side of the country and accepted the opportunity to serve in Grand County, Colorado as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. For the next year she will be working with Grand Beginnings to help rural parents and educators make strong choices regarding their child’s early education. In her spare time Hope enjoys hiking, listening to music, and volunteering with animals.

Liza Cooney

Program Associate at Bright Futures

Liza is from Falmouth, ME. She just graduated in May from Wheaton College in Massachusetts, where she studied psychology with a minor in biology. With her psych major, she’s currently interested in pursuing nonprofit work or public health. Although there are all sorts of areas within nonprofit work that she likes, one of her top interests is early childhood education. That is why she is super excited to be to serving with Bright Futures as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Outside of work, she loves to play sports such as soccer, running, and Nordic skiing. She also enjoys music and spending time outdoors. She is grateful for this opportunity and is excited to volunteer with AmeriCorps VISTA.

Sara Novicki

San Luis Valley Great Outdoors, Development Associate

Sara Novicki is a native of Wilmington, NC where she studied Social Work at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. During her time at UNCW she volunteered at a variety of non-profits and joined the Rape Crisis Center as a Prevention Education Intern. Her passion for supporting underserved and underrepresented populations led her to later join the AmeriCorps VISTA program. She left the beach for the mountains in January of 2017 and spent a year serving at Mountain Valley School in Saguache, CO. Here she took on the position as their Assistant Geodesic Dome Greenhouse Coordinator which allowed her to write grants and plan community engagement events to support the K-12 STEAM and Garden Initiatives. During her time in Saguache she fell in love with the San Luis Valley (SLV) and made the decision to stay in the area for a bit longer. In February of 2018, she joined San Luis Valley Great Outdoors (SLVGO) in Alamosa, CO as their Funding Coordinator VISTA. In her new position at SLVGO, Sara will be supporting the growth of outdoor recreation and trails in the SLV through fundraising, resource development, and marketing. Aside from serving, Sara can be found hiking trails with her dog, crafting, cooking, dancing, or spending time on the water.

Nicole Rodriguez

La Puente Home Inc., Community and Resource Development Associate

Nicole Rodriguez is originally from San Antonio Texas. She is a graduate from Texas State University in San Marcos Texas. She Majored in Art and minored in Mass Communication. While in college Nicole was in service organizations and worked at the college radio station. Nicole also went on service trip to Costa Rica and after that she knew she wanted to work for a non-profit. Nicole is excited to work as a VISTA at La Puente Home Inc. and to use her Mass Communication skills she learned in college. When she is not working Nicole looks forward to exploring Colorado, crafting, and taking photos.

Maddie Interdonato

Outreach and Marketing Associate

Maddie is originally from the east coast, finally making her way to the mountains after receiving her B.S. in Anthropology from Virginia Commonwealth University. In the pursuit of a career that is outdoor-oriented, she found Alpine Achievers Initiative, and is now serving her second year with them, this time as a VISTA. This program has such a great impact on children in the San Luis Valley and Maddie can’t wait to help develop this amazing program further.

Amanda Falkner

Community Engagement Coordinator

My name is Amanda Falkner and I am a recent graduate of the University of Vermont. I graduated with a degree in Community and International Development, and a double minor in Food Systems and Nutrition and Food Sciences. I am originally from Rochester, NY, but am serving in Alamosa, CO, working as the Community Engagement Coordinator VISTA for the Rio Grande Farm Park. A few fun facts about me: I love dogs and love the outdoors!

Lexis Reid

Domestic Violence Services Community Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator

Hello, I’m Lexis Serving at Hilltop Resource Center working within a department working with domestic and sexual violence in Grand Junction, Colorado. I recently graduated college with a BA in Family Studies and join AmeriCorps to take some time off and explore before starting to work on my Social Work degree.

Halle Leganza

Community Engagement Coordinator

Halle is originally from Indianapolis, Indiana. She received her B.A. in Philosophy with a minor in American Sign Language Interpreting from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. There, she became the first recipient of the Adam Hayden Philosophy Scholarship (a community created and funded award) which allowed her to continue to be involved in the academics she values most. With the scholarship’s aid she was able to continue a language-based education that sparked a deep interest in creating access for communities that may typically be overlooked. As an AmeriCorps VISTA she hopes to create similar opportunities for all students to receive enriching and quality educational experiences. During her downtime she can be found tearing through a good book, or enjoying anything the outdoors has to offer.

Kyle Tijerina

Program Associate

Aleticia Kyle Tijerina began her service year with La Plata Youth Services in beautiful Durango, Colorado, a mountain town over 7600 feet above sea level in the San Juan mountain range. As a Program Associate, Kyle will be focusing her attention on development and volunteer recruitment. Besides a career in public service, Kyle is a spoken word artist and hopes to find ways to make her art therapeutic for youth and community members who need a means to express grief in healthy ways and overcome obstacles in their lives. Kyle is proud of her mixed race identity. “On my maternal side, I am affiliated with the Odawa/Potawatomi and Wyandotte nations and on my paternal side, I am Coahuiltecan, my family living in the San Antonio, Texas area for centuries.”

Rebecca Favero

Program Development Assistant

Rebecca Favero is originally from Minnesota but has been based in the Durango/Mancos, CO area for the last five years. The majority of her professional experience has been spent working as a field guide for Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. The first 4 years she worked primarily in the teams, working with at risk youth struggling with their mental and emotional health in various capacities such as addiction, depression, anxiety, trauma, etc. Open Sky is a completely outdoor, holistic program that focuses on using communication skills, mindfulness practices, healthy eating, primitive skills/wilderness survival skills, and community/connection as the template for the healing journey of the youth. For the last year she worked in the Family Services department of Open Sky helping facilitate 3 day family therapy sessions in the wilderness. She has also worked as an herbalist and a doula. She loves all plants, walking in the woods, making music, and connecting with those dear to her. She’s excited to work with La Plata Youth Services and to be of service to the youth and their families in the La Plata community.

John Arenas

Communication and Development Assistant

John arrived in Montrose, Colorado in February 2019 to serve as a VISTA with the Hispanic Affairs Project (HAP), where he will be assisting with communications and development. He is looking forward to expanding the efforts of HAP to engage with the Hispanic community, and promoting the integration of the Hispanic community in Western Colorado. Originally from Baltimore, John studied journalism at the University of Maryland. He has worked as an English teacher in Spain and Argentina, and has also worked in communications for a Baltimore-based web design company. In his free time he is looking forward to exploring the natural beauty of the area surrounding Montrose.

Margaret Morgan

Fundraising, Outreach, and Events Coordinator

Margaret grew up in North Carolina, where she was lucky enough to have a garden in her yard, and a love for food and spending time outdoors was fostered. After graduating from Florida State University with majors in Advertising and Studio Art, she has spent her time leading a variety of outdoor education trips of all kinds, including ski instructing in Colorado, and leading backpacking trips in Wyoming and Iceland. She supplemented her outdoor instructing life with remote graphic design and marketing work. She is passionate about providing experiential education in many forms to students of all ages and finding more sustainable ways of living. Margaret is a  lover of skiing, climbing, and pottery. She landed in Gunnison after a year facilitating outdoor education and leading expeditions based in Yangshuo, China. She is working as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Mountain Roots Food Project as the Fundraising, Outreach, and Events Coordinator, and is excited to be involved in creating a healthier and more localized food system.

Melinda McFarland

Development Coordinator

Melinda McFarland has spent the last eight years as a seasonal national park ranger traveling and working across the United States. She has enjoyed exploring and teaching others about the caves of Utah, the Arizona desert, the swamps of Louisiana, the coast of Maine and is excited to be back in the place she calls home: the west. While working for the National Park Service, she saw firsthand what public lands and the outdoors mean to people and wanted to get more involved in helping underserved communities gain access to the benefits of outdoor recreation. She is excited to be serving as the Development Coordinator for San Luis Valley Great Outdoors, whose mission is to develop a long term plan for trails and outdoor recreation for the San Luis Valley. Melinda grew up in the outdoors and knows firsthand how impactful recreation can be to both the physical and mental health of an individual. As a VISTA member, Melinda is excited to promote and increase access to the recreational opportunities close to the communities she serves. In her spare time, Melinda enjoys the outdoors through hiking, exploring, and often behind a pair of binoculars watching birds. On lazier days she embraces being a cat lady to three adorable cats and is learning to bake in the high altitude of Colorado. Melinda is grateful for this VISTA opportunity and looks forward to learning, serving, and working within her community.

Our 2018 VISTA Host Sites

AmeriCorps STATE

Program Goals:

Build Direct Service Capacity: Nonprofits and community groups in rural Colorado have increased access to direct service capacity through STATE members and are able to further impact of services. Emerging leaders gain valuable experience in service delivery and community engagement.

Provide Professional Development: STATE members have a positive experience during which they increase in ability and gain valuable insight for future studies and employment. Members share innovative practices with their host organizations.

Foster Shared Learning: STATE members facilitate awareness and accelerate shared learning opportunities within the statewide and regional networks in which they are serving. Members and host sites will engage throughout terms of service to foster deeper collaboration and communication.

What is an AmeriCorps STATE member?

CRC’s AmeriCorps STATE program will engage members within existing and formalized networks in order to facilitate innovative and collaborative responses to better address statewide and regional challenges. AmeriCorps State members will accomplish this through direct service.

CRC has received a planning grant from Serve Colorado to develop our AmeriCorps STATE program and will serve as an intermediary organization, placing direct service members in rural Colorado. Serve Colorado is Colorado’s state commission on community service and is housed within the Lt. Governor’s office.

What can a STATE member do for my organization?

STATE members enable an organization to further impact through program delivery. Members will be placed in network agencies who meet one or all of the three priority focus areas of Healthy Futures/ Mental health, Economic Opportunity and Education. They serve on the front lines of agencies delivery services and performing jobs such as:

  • Community Health Education
  • Youth Mentoring
  • Food Bank Programming
  • Community Engagement
  • Volunteer Recruitment and Training

Since 1994, more than 31,000 Colorado residents have served more than 28 million direct service hours in communities across the state.

How do you define direct service in rural organizations?

2016 RPD regional mapDirect service is defined as delivering programming to the organization’s clients and constituents. The goal of additional direct service capacity, is that the organization is able to reach more individuals, deliver more programming and increase client impact. STATE members will play a strong role in building relationships with those that you serve, building community trust and building additional opportunities for client engagement. STATE members are permitted to spend a small portion of their time on indirect service, specifically supporting fundraising efforts of the organization.

Our statewide Rural Philanthropy Days program has identified eight rural regions consisting of 52 counties. We are looking for nonprofit organizations in these eight rural regions to host AmeriCorps members.

AmeriCorps STATE Member Benefits

As an AmeriCorps STATE member you will:

  • Gain direct service experience and skills in nonprofit best practices
  • Help foster communication between network agencies and statewide partners
  • Serve a minimum of 1,700 hours at a host site organization
  • Receive an annual living stipend and access to healthcare and child care benefits
  • Upon completion of service will be eligible to receive education award of $6,095
  • Attend CRC member orientation and have access to free professional development opportunities throughout the year
  • Become part of a statewide network of national service members and build lasting relationships in our state’s vibrant communities

Ready to Host a STATE Member?

Does your organization:

  • Have the staff capacity to supervise a full-time AmeriCorps member?
  • 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?
  • Exist as part of a regional or statewide network?

For more information, please contact:

Megan Carter, AmeriCorps Program Coordinator
303.623.1540 X146 or email hidden; JavaScript is required