AmeriCorps VISTA members contribute indirect, capacity-building services throughout their year of service to create, expand, and/or sustain a project. Capacity-building activities enhance the mission and strategy, as well as the systems and infrastructure of an organization. They are indirect services that enable organizations to provide more, better, and sustained direct services that address community needs.
For example, a VISTA member would NOT:
- Tutor students or lead educational activities
- Manage social services caseloads
- Care for a community garden
A VISTA member WOULD:
- Recruit, train, and manage volunteers to do the activities listed above
- Partner with other community organizations to provide additional services and resources
- Write grants or fundraise to provide the materials neessary to do the activities listed above
- REsearch and develop culturally-relevant curricula
- Coordinate community events to establish a supportive school climate
- Create a database to track services and users
- Assess the effectiveness of the program
VISTA service is often considered a 24/7 priority. As such, VISTA members are expected to be available during evening and weekend hours as needed. Work hours are contingent on project needs and will vary across host organizations.
That said, VISTA members serve approximately 35-40 hours/week. Any service contributed beyond those hours should quality the member for flex time off at another time.
VISTA members commit to a 365 day term of service.
ELIGIBILITY AND SELECTION
To be eligible, your organization must:
- Be a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, school, or government agency based in the Rochester, New York region
- Prioritize programs which utilize asset-based models of youth development
- Be operational for at least one year with at least one full-time staff member
- Possess the capacity to supervise a VISTA member
Our application and match process for organizations occurs in three steps:
This application is submitted online and requires the following:
- Agency information
- Acknowledgement of direct and in-kind support
- Project narratives, including sections on: executive summary; needs and assets; strengthening communities; project management; and organizational capacity.
- A VISTA Assignment Description (VAD), highlighting the specific objectives for the project and the activities the member will perform to accomplish these objectives
- Optional promotional materials
All proposals will be reviewed by program staff and the Rochester Regional Network. Key project elements include:
- Organizational capacity to develop and manage the project and VISTA member
- Explicit plans that ensure the VISTA project is sustainable
- Realistic objectives with measurable outcomes that align with Rochester Youth Year’s anti-poverty and youth-serving mission
- Proper support, supervision, and training for the VISTA member during the year of service
In April, all partners are invited to our Match Day event, where partners and all selected candidates have the opportunity to participate in short interviews with each other. Both candidates and projects compile feedback on these interviews, which RYY staff then use to make the most mutually-beneficial match.
In June, supervisors from all partner projects are required to participate in a half-day Supervisor Orientation. At this orientation, we will discuss VISTA policies, RYY expectations, and provide supervisors with an opportunity to network and learn from each other. Following this orientation, Supervisors are required to submit a 2-week on-site orientation and training (OSOT) plan for the member serving with their organization; confirm national performance measures and targets; and share any final revisions to the VAD.
VISTA projects must:
- Meet a defined community need and/or seek to build on a community strength/asset
- Benefit urban youth (ages 0-25) and families experiencing poverty
- Aim to create a new initiative or develop a significant expansion of an existing program
- Have a measurable impact on the community your organization serves. Community agencies and VISTA members will be responsible for providing regular progress reports
Rochester Youth Year VISTA members must not:
- Provide direct service (see “The Work”) to organization clients or beneficiaries
- Take part in tasks that are overwhelmingly administrative or clerical in nature
- Displace the work, or what should be the work, of paid employees of the host organizations
- Be involved with political advocacy, religious instruction, voter registration, or union organizing while on-site, during service hours, in VISTA gear, or when otherwise associated with AmeriCorps VISTA and VISTA service
Rochester Youth Year AmeriCorps VISTA members are recent graduates of a college or university in the Rochester area. Rochester Youth Year AmeriCorps VISTA members exhibit a strong commitment to social and economic equity, service, civic engagement, leadership, and diversity. With a diverse set of skills and educational backgrounds, RYY VISTAs are seeking an intensive, hands-on learning and professional experience.
Each Rochester Youth Year AmeriCorps VISTA member is required to attend a pre-service orientation (PSO) prior, or in conjunction with, their first day at their host agency. This PSO is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service and will determine the VISTA’s start date. In addition, RYY program staff provides incoming VISTAs with a two-day orientation of the program and the Rochester community. Continued personal and professional development opportunities are offered on a monthly basis throughout the service year.
SITE REQUIREMENTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
All partner organizations are expected to submit a cost share sum to help defray the cost of the VISTA member’s living allowance, as well as for training and other event costs.
We request a cost share sum of $5,500 for first-year partner organizations. For returning organizations, the cost share sum increases to $6,500.
All host sites are expected to provide:
- A cost share sum, not to exceed $6,500
- Adequate work space (access to phone, internet, fax, desk, computer, office supplies)
- Reimbursement for any project-related travel
- Supportive leadership from site supervisor and host-site staff to ensure that the RYY VISTA achieves their goals
In addition, Rochester Youth Year expects each host site to serve as a partner in the execution of the AmeriCorps VISTA program at their organization by fulfilling the following responsibilities:
- Supervision: Host sites should designate a staff member to manage the daily activities of VISTA members and meet with the VISTA member to provide project-related guidance on a regular basis. The VISTA should have a network of support at their site, in case of the absence of their official supervisor.
- Communication: Including any changes to the VISTA Assignment Description, organizational changes, and celebrations
- Training: Sites are expected to provide RYY VISTAs with a comprehensive on-site orientation during the first several weeks of service. Additional training should be provided throughout the year.
RYY program staff work with supervisors and members throughout the year to ensure that goals are being met and member service is both effective and appropriate.
Rochester Youth Year manages the overarching AmeriCorps VISTA program by:
- Selecting, matching, and orienting host organizations and Rochester Youth Year members
- Working with host sites and fellows to ensure attainment of goals
- Collecting progress reports from each RYY member for submission to the Corporation for National and Community Service
- Conducting bi-annual host site visits
- Coordinating and dispersing living allowance stipends
- Hosting annual kick-off, mid-year, and end-of-service events
Rochester Youth Year manages the RYY Fellows’ experience by:
- Convening regular meetings and trainings for RYY members
- Sharing of resources to improve the members’ ability to accomplish tasks and goals
- Processing and managing of any disciplinary action
Rochester Youth Year manages all communication with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). This includes:
- Management of all paperwork (Memorandums of Understanding, quarterly progress reports, enrollment forms, exit forms, etc.)
- Management of all grant requirements and funds