VISTA, Volunteers in Service to America, was conceived by President John F. Kennedy as a domestic counterpart to the Peace Corps and was started by President Lyndon Johnson as part of the War on Poverty. It is the national service program that works to eliminate poverty. The first VISTAs began serving in 1965, in migrant farm worker camps in California, the hollows of eastern Kentucky, and the urban neighborhoods of Hartford, CT. In 1994, VISTA was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs. Today, AmeriCorps VISTA is as vibrant and necessary as ever.
You can find detailed information on the other tangible benefits of service, including the education award and travel allowances at VISTACampus.gov.
Nationwide AmeriCorps VISTA Requirements:
- Be 18 year or older
- Hold one of the following citizenship statuses: US citizen, US national, Lawful Permanent Resident Aliens and persons residing in a state that have the following legal residency classifications: refugee, asylum or asylee, temporary protected status, or deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) status
- Be in a position to offer full-time service for one year without regard to regular working hours
VISTA members serve full-time for one year at a variety of host sites across WVU's campuses. VISTA members work on specific projects to combat poverty within focus areas such as disaster services, education, economic opportunity, healthy futures, environmental stewardship, and veterans and military families. VISTAs perform indirect service, which means they help build the capacity of their host sites to deliver direct services to people living in poverty.
Examples of indirect service:
- Recruiting volunteers
- Public speaking
- Organizing fundraising efforts
- Developing media kits, including press releases
- Organizing community task forces
- Creating volunteer assignments
- Writing and developing manuals and handbooks
- Building community partnerships
- Developing databases
- Securing funding for project staffing
- Developing service-learning courses through partnerships with faculty, CCE staff, and local nonprofits
Education and Work History:
Because our members serve in a university setting, we prefer candidates who have attended college. However, we recognize that higher education is a privilege not accessible to all and will consider the substitution of relevant work history on a case-by-case basis, particularly for applicants who have firsthand experiences with poverty or prior national service or military experience. Relevant work history is that which shows the applicant to be adaptable, self-motivated, and innovative—it does not need to be in any particular field.
Most applicants have extensive volunteer experience, but this experience does not necessarily need to be in the same field as the desired position and does not have to take the form of typical "community service." We actively seek candidates who have been engaged in something they're passionate about.
Personal Attributes and Commitment:
We look for personal characteristics that show dedication, reliability, and resilience. All members must be committed to completing one full year of service and be willing to live at the poverty level for the duration of that time.
VISTA members serve their communities 24/7 for one full year, and are expected to be available whenever needed. The typical schedule for a VISTA member serving with our Collaborative follows the WVU employee schedule, which is 7.5 hours per day, Monday - Friday. However, VISTAs can be called upon to serve at any time, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. In addition, VISTAs are excused to serve for jury duty or military reserve duty as required.
Yes! Classes and outside work cannot interfere with your AmeriCorps VISTA position - you must still serve 37.5 hours per week and be available during any evenings and weekends as needed by your host site. All VISTA members must request permission to have outside employment.
Visit my.americorps.gov to learn about the benefits of a VISTA year and apply for current positions at WVU.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!