VISTA: Volunteers in Service to America

Cheryl Cirelli
Is VISTA right for you?

Volunteers in Service to America gain both education and work experiences that will be valuable tools for the rest of their lives. Not only do they serve to help Americans living in poverty but they serve to shape their own lives as well.

About Volunteers in Service to America

Americorps is a national and community service organization. Not only does the organization have the VISTA program, it also has both state and national programs that address needs in education, the environment, public health and safety, and disaster preparedness and response.

Volunteers in Service to America, also known as VISTA, is Americorps national service program specifically designed by Lyndon Johnson's Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 to fight poverty as the domestic version of the Peace Corps.

The purpose of Volunteers in Service to America is to fight poverty in the communities of the United States. There are over 37 million Americans living in poverty. VISTA was created to help them. It is possible to make a difference in your community and VISTA is evidence of this. VISTA's slogan is "Fight poverty with passion." They have ads on TV and in print to generate awareness of this serious issue.

VISTA Members

A member of VISTA signs on to serve full-time for a year at various anti-poverty organizations such as non profit organizations or government agencies. They can be involved in the following ways:

  • Working to fight illiteracy
  • Improving health services
  • Increasing housing opportunities
  • Strengthen community groups
  • Creating or expanding programs to bring people out of poverty

Currently, there are over 5,000 Volunteers in Service to America members serving in over 1,000 projects throughout the United States. Once a member completes a full year term, they are eligible to receive $1,200 or an education award of $4,725 to help pay for college.

During their term, VISTA members receive the following benefits in exchange for their service:

  • Orientation and training
  • Monthly stipend calculated at no less than 95% of the poverty line
  • Cost of settling in and transportation
  • Child care benefits
  • Basic health care plan

VISTA members finish the program with lessons learned in teamwork, leadership, responsibility and many other life skills. These lessons will be carried with them for the rest of their lives.

Member Requirements

There are requirements to be a member of VISTA. These include:

  • United States citizen or legal resident alien of the United States
  • At least 18 years old
  • College degree or at least three years of work experience is preferred
  • Initiative, flexibility, and organizational skills
  • Fluency in Spanish or other languages, depending on location
  • Ability to serve full-time for one year

In addition, VISTA requires criminal history background checks. This is done to ensure that people that members will be working with are protected.

How To Get Involved

To get involved, you will need to apply for a VISTA position and create a profile in their online recruitment system. You then will be able to search for positions that meet your specific interests and location preference. It is possible to apply for several positions within the same application.

For More Information

To get more information, contact Americorp at 800-942-2677 or visit the Official VISTA Website.

VISTA: Volunteers in Service to America