AmeriCorps VISTAAmeriCorps VISTA

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What is VISTA?

VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) is a federal anti-poverty program administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. VISTA provides full-time volunteers (VISTAs) to support projects at nonprofit, grassroots organizations, and local government agencies like the Ionia County Intermediate School District.

VISTAs strengthen and support these organizations by expanding community partnerships, securing long-term resources, training program participants, and developing other activities that help build long-term sustainability for overcoming poverty. Any nonprofit organization, educational institution, or state or local government agency is eligible to sponsor a VISTA project.

VISTAs are men and women ages 18 and older who commit a year of full-time service to help local communities develop lasting solutions to poverty in America. The skill sets and education level of VISTAs are as diverse as the communities they serve. Many VISTAs have college degrees or at least several years of work experience. Still others are recently retired professionals looking for a way to spend their retirement years benefiting a low-income community. In addition to their existing skills, VISTAs receive training in community mobilization, asset identification, fundraising, capacity building, and program sustainability.

The primary role of VISTAs is to help build a sustainable program. Hence, VISTAs do not perform direct service. Instead of tutoring youth, for example, VISTAs may help create or expand a tutoring program by recruiting community volunteers to tutor or by obtaining funding for the program.

What is the Ionia County Intermediate School District VISTA Program?

VISTA members here are asked to create and expand programs in the area of youth development helping to increase the presence of resiliency factors in students resulting in greater asset development, less risky behaviors and more success, therefore, meeting the following goals:

  • Provide students with comprehensive, multifaceted, and integrated supports that are accessible, timely, and strength-based so students can achieve in school, be confident and caring, and become contributing citizens in their communities;
  • Involve families, fellow students, educators and community members as integral partners in the provision of a supportive, respectful learning environment; and
  • Integrate the human and financial resources of public and private agencies to create caring communities at each school.

The VISTA members will be utilized to create and expand youth development programs in Ionia and Montcalm counties including work in K-12 schools, college access and family involvement.

The Ionia County Intermediate School District’s Mission Statement states that the organization will “cooperate and provide services and leadership as a partner with its local districts, public and private agencies, other ISDs, the Department of Education, and higher education, to deliver quality teaching and learning to students and staff.” The Vista program provides an opportunity to support this mission by its collaboration with the local school districts and other community entities with a focus on teaching, mentoring, and the provision of education-related services for children and their families.