What is AmeriCorps VISTA?
What VISTA Memebers Do
Each VISTA member makes a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency. VISTA members generally do not provide direct services, such as tutoring children or building homes. Instead, they focus their efforts on building the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of organizations that fight illiteracy, improve health services, foster economic develop, and otherwise assist low-income communities. VISTAs develop programs to meet a need, write grants, and recruit and train volunteers.
The History of AmeriCorps VISTA
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy envisioned a national service corps “to help provide urgently needed services in urban and rural poverty areas.” Less than two years later, President Lyndon B. Johnson realized Kennedy's dream by launching the “War on Poverty.” Johnson welcomed the first group of 20 VISTA volunteers saying, “Your pay will be low; the conditions of your labor often will be difficult. But you will have the satisfaction of leading a great national effort and you will have the ultimate reward which comes to those who serve their fellow man.”
VISTA, like Head Start and other lasting antipoverty programs, was created by The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 to serve the needs of the poorest Americans.
The first VISTA members started in January 1965, and by the end of the year more than 2,000 members were working in the Appalachian region, California migrant worker camps, and Hartford, Connecticut poor neighborhoods. By 1966, more than 3,600 VISTA members were serving the country. By the end of its first decade, VISTA had helped develop a range of projects around the United States, including block watch clubs, credit unions, agricultural cooperatives, community groups, and small businesses. Many of these entities still thrive today—including some of the first Head Start programs and Job Corps sites. As experience with poverty issues grew, VISTA also recruited lawyers, doctors, and architects to work in underserved areas. >Learn More