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What is VISTA?

The mission of AmeriCorps VISTA is to strengthen organizations that alleviate poverty through volunteerism and mobilization of resources.

AmeriCorps VISTA is a volunteer service program, administered nationally by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), through which national service members serve with organizations full-time for one year. VISTA projects are designed to build permanent capacity and infrastructure to help more effectively bring individuals and communities out of poverty. Within AmeriCorps VISTA, there are five anti-poverty focus areas:

  • Education
  • Veterans and Military Families
  • Economic Opportunity
  • Healthy Futures
  • Disaster Services

Goals for VISTA members may include establishing systems, institutionalizing knowledge, and developing community relationships to better generate resources, encourage volunteer service at the local level, and empower individuals and communities to address urgent social needs.

AmeriCorps VISTA operates under the following core principles:

  • Anti-Poverty Focus
    The purpose of AmeriCorps VISTA is to support efforts to fight poverty. The VISTA project should address helping individuals and communities out of poverty, not simply making poverty more tolerable through short-term services.
     
  • Community Empowerment 
    Sponsoring organizations must ensure that the VISTA project engages the beneficiary community in planning, developing and implementing the project. The project must be responsive and relevant to the needs of the community, and should tap into inherent community assets, strengths, and resources.
     
  • Sustainable Solutions  
    VISTA members provide short-term, human resources to build long-term sustainability of anti-poverty programs. All projects should be developed with the goal to phase out the need for VISTA members and to strengthen the ability of the project to continue indefinitely.
     
  • Capacity Building 
    VISTA members do not provide direct services to individuals; rather, they work to increase the capacity of organizations to fight poverty. Through activities such as community outreach,establishment of volunteer recruitment and management systems, fundraising, and collaboration development, VISTA members mobilize local resources to build lasting solutions to poverty.