AmeriCorps VISTA logo

What is AmeriCorps VISTA?

Established by the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service (C.N.C.S.), an umbrella agency for a number of federally funded volunteer programs, including the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (R.S.V.P.), Foster Grandparents (F.G.P.), and Senior Companion Program (S.C.P.). There are approximately 7,000 AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers serving nationwide.
VISTA is founded on three basic assumptions:

  1. That private citizens can, on a voluntary basis, contribute to the solution of the nation’s poverty-related problems.
  2. That the full-time presence and personal involvement of volunteers brings an added dimension to public and private institutions working to alleviate poverty.
  3. That the skills and energies of volunteers are used most effectively when the volunteer lives and works with the low-income community they serve.

The role of the VISTA volunteer in the poverty problem-solving process is focused on mobilizing community resources and increasing the capability of low-income people to solve their own problems.

VISTA volunteers work for local organizations, usually private non-profit or public agencies, in assignments determined and defined by that sponsoring organization and the low-income community where they work. VISTA volunteers are supervised by and responsible to the local sponsoring agency.

VISTA volunteers commit themselves to serve on a full-time basis (generally an average 40-hour workweek) for at least one year, and it is expected that this commitment will be honored. In certain circumstances, volunteers may be invited to serve longer than one year.

For more information:

About Cra-Wa-La AmeriCorps VISTA Sponsor Program, Community Impact Project

Cra-Wa-La has been an AmeriCorps VISTA Sponsor since September 2010. The project is a statewide initiative. As an AmeriCorps VISTA project sponsor we are required to comply with all Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS) policies, procedures, and strategic plan. We submitted an application which outlining the goals, objectives, strategies, and our action plan (see below) for our projects. In our role as project sponsor, we recruit AmeriCorps VISTAs and Host Sites to implement the terms and conditions of the project. Host Sites are nonprofit organizations whose programs and services align with the Cra-Wa-La AmeriCorps VISTA Community Impact Project goals, objectives, and performance requirements. Additionally, as the project Sponsor the organization is responsible for project management, implementation, monitoring compliance, reporting, and recruiting and training our VISTAs, and Host Site Supervisors. Each VISTA has a Volunteer Assignment Description (VAD) to help guide them through their project assignment and work.
Education is the primary focus of the Community Impact Project. Schools and communities participating in the projects are selected based on the needs for services; conditions of poverty, and educational weaknesses. The project targets economically disadvantaged youth (Pre-K thru 12) in schools with high poverty (greater than 55%), and with Illinois PSAE (Prairie State Achievement Exam) scores in reading (56%), and math scores (52%).
Target Audience – Pre-K thru 12 economically disadvantaged youth at risk of academic failure.

Cra-Wa-La AmeriCorps VISTA, Community Impact Project Goals


Provide, support and/or facilitate access to services and resources that contribute to improved educational outcomes for economically disadvantaged people, especially children. CNCS will, throughout its activities, focus on the use of evidence-based and promising practices and will collaborate with other agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the White House Office of Faith-based Initiatives. Priority in funding new grants will be given to applicants that provide evidence on the effectiveness of their programs.

Project Objective 1: Improve school readiness for economically disadvantaged young children.

Goal 1, Objective 1 Strategies #1: VISTA members, participants and volunteers develop or engage in proven or promising activities that include teaching, tutoring and/or the provision of education‐ related supportive services for children or their families that improve school readiness.

Goal 1, Objective 1 Strategies #1 Performance Measures

  • Percent of children demonstrating gains in school readiness in terms of social and emotional development.
  • Percent of children demonstrating gains in school readiness in terms of literacy skills.
  • Percent of children demonstrating gains in school readiness in terms of numeracy (math) skills.
  • Recruit a minimum of 25 community volunteers.

Project Objective 2: Improve educational and behavioral outcomes of students in low‐ achieving elementary, middle and high schools.

Goal 1, Objective 2, Strategies #1: VISTA members, participants and volunteers engage in proven or promising activities intended to improve learning and grade‐level success in low‐achieving schools, such as: teaching, tutoring, and/or mentoring of students; providing supportive services to assist staff; providing extended learning programs in cooperation with school systems (such as after school and summer learning); or providing other types of school improvement support to school systems.
Goal 1, Objective 2, Strategies #1, Performance Measures

  • Percentage of students served by CNCS supported programs, who demonstrate improved academic performance (including the percent meeting state proficiency levels in reading and math or whose scores on state standardized test improved).
  • Recruit a minimum of 25 community volunteers.

Goal 1, Objective 2, Strategies #3: CNCS‐supported members, participants and volunteers provide proven or promising capacity‐building services for State and Local Education agencies or community‐based learning centers.
AmeriCorps VISTA Capacity Building Activity: Volunteer recruitment, training, mobilization, management, developing and implementing a Volunteer Recruitment Strategic Plan (Action Plan); Developing and implementing a Marketing & Promotion Action Plan which includes social media strategies and implementation, community outreach, and promotional materials; Fundraising Strategic Plan; and Community outreach expanding client base and services.
INDIVIDUAL – This opportunity to serve is for 12-months. It is similar to an internship. The individual receives training and experience that will help with future employment.
ving Allowance: All VISTA volunteers receive a subsistence allowance
every other week to pay for food, housing, and personal expenses. This allowance is subject to Federal & Illinois State income tax. VISTA’s receives a monthly living allowance, which is based on the location of service for12 months. More information about the living allowance and benefits can be found on the AmeriCorps VISTA web site:
Potential volunteers must . . .

  • Be at least 19 years of age or older;
  • High school graduate or G.E.D. (Some college preferred;)
  • Be U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents;
  • Meet volunteer additional qualifying standards or skill requirements specified by the sponsoring organization for a particular VISTA position;
  • Volunteer and/or civic engagement experience required.


  • May be enrolled in education programs subject to VISTA project Sponsor approval. School enrollment must not interfere with full time VISTA duties.
  • Cannot be employed outside their VISTA work.
  • Cannot be involved in lobbying or partisan political activity subject to the Hatch Act provisions.

Selection Process: Should you decide to volunteer with VISTA and the Sponsor selects you, your application will have to be approved by C.N.C.S.

Training & Orientation: Pre-Service Orientation will be provided by C.N.C.S. Project orientation will be provided by the project VISTA Sponsor. The VISTA Host Site will provide on-site project orientation.

To learn more about becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA:

NFP COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION/AGENCY – 501(c)(3) Federal Tax Exempt organization/agency required. Program/Services provided match AmeriCorps VISTA project goals, objectives, and strategies. Need for AmeriCorps VISTA to help with capacity building and sustainability (enhancement/expansion) of program/service. Target population served, economical disadvantaged youth, families, or adults. Prior to recruitment and selection of an AmeriCorps VISTA, qualified Host Sites must sign a “Host Site Agreement.” Cost: $1,500 match per year per VISTA.
Funding Source: Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS) and matching funds

Get Involved

  • INDIVIDUALs interested in becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA for Cra-Wa-La follow this link for more information and to apply:
  • NFP ORGANIZATION/AGENCY interested in becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA Host Site for Cra-Wa-La Community Impact Project contact D Marie Goff at 618-943-5326 or e-mail