AmeriCorps VISTA
AmeriCorps Logo 2020 Stacked Navy.svg
Agency overview
JurisdictionFederal government of the United States
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
Agency executive
  • Meg Ansara, Director
Parent agencyAmeriCorps
Websiteamericorps.gov

AmeriCorps VISTA is a national service program designed to alleviate poverty. President John F. Kennedy originated the idea for VISTA, which was founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965, and incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993.[1] VISTA is an acronym for Volunteers in Service to America.

On March 11, 2018, President Donald Trump sent his official Fiscal Year 2020 (FY 2020) Budget request to Congress. As outlined in his previous fiscal year budgets, this budget proposes the elimination of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in FY 2020. It provides funding for an orderly shutdown, including all CNCS programs, such as Senior Corps and AmeriCorps (which includes VISTA and NCCC).[2] In FY 2019, VISTA was funded at its FY 2017 and FY 2018 levels of $92,364,000 while AmeriCorps (not NCCC) and Senior Corps received increases in their funding levels.

Background

VISTA is an anti-poverty program created by Lyndon Johnson's Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 as the domestic version of the Peace Corps.[3] Initially, the program increased employment opportunities for conscientious people who felt they could contribute tangibly to the War on Poverty. Volunteers served in communities throughout the U.S., focusing on enriching educational programs and vocational training for the nation's underprivileged classes.

As defined under the Domestic Volunteer Service Act (DVSA) of 1973, VISTA's legislative purpose is to supplement efforts to fight poverty in low-income communities by engaging Americans from all walks of life in a year of full-time service. VISTA members support the program's purpose through three primary objectives: 1) encouraging volunteer service at the local level, 2) generating the commitment of private sector resources, and 3) strengthening local agencies and organizations that serve low-income communities. There are approximately 5,000 VISTA members serving in over 900 projects throughout the nation.

During the Clinton Administration, VISTA was brought under the newly created AmeriCorps program, a division of the Corporation for National and Community Service, and was renamed "AmeriCorps*VISTA". VISTA members sign up with a host agency for a full-time term of service – 365 days. In return for their service, members are provided with orientation and training, a living stipend calculated at no less than 105% of the poverty line, settling in and transportation costs, child care benefits, and a basic health care plan. Upon completion of their one-year term, VISTA members have the option of receiving a cash award or the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.[4] There is also the option for individuals to serve as Summer Associates for terms of 8, 9 or 10 weeks alongside full-time VISTA members for a reduced AmeriCorps Education Award.

Directors

The first Director of VISTA was Glenn W. Ferguson and there have been many appointed and acting directors since then.[5] Meg Ansara currently serves as the Director for AmeriCorps VISTA.[6]

Director Service Dates Appointed by Notes
1 Glenn W. Ferguson 1964 – ? Johnson
Padraic Kennedy ? – 1966 acting director
2 William Crook 1966–1968 Johnson
Padraic Kennedy 1968–1970 acting director
C.R. Lane 1970 acting director
3 Carol Khosrovi 1970 – ?[7] Nixon
4 Frank E. Williams ? – 1975 – ?
5 Margery Tabankin 1977 Carter
6 James H. Burnley IV 1981–1982 Reagan
7 Jane A. Kenny 1986–1989 Director
Diana London 1989 – ? Acting Director
8 James Scheibel 1993 – Clinton
9 Paul Monteiro 2014–2015 Obama Director
11 Max Finberg[8] 2015–2017 Obama Director
11 Eileen Conoboy 2017– Trump Acting Director
Desiree Tucker-Sorini ? –2021
Meg Ansara 2021–present Biden Director

Oversight

Created by the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993, the Corporation for National and Community Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducts and supervises independent and objective audits and investigations of Corporation programs and operations. Based on the results of these audits, reviews, and investigations, the OIG recommends policies to promote economy and efficiency and prevent and detect fraud and abuse in the Corporation's programs and operations.

Member pledge

Most AmeriCorps VISTA members are required by federal law to take the same oath that federal employees take:[9]

I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. [So help me God.][10]

See also

References

  1. ^ "AmeriCorps | Corporation for National and Community Service". Americorps.gov. Archived from the original on 3 March 2011. Retrieved 2013-09-17. 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, as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” President Kennedy’s dream was realized when President and First Lady [Lady] Bird Johnson welcomed the first group of 20 VISTA volunteers.
  2. ^ "Budget". Corporation for National and Community Service. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  3. ^ "President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society ... included a domestic equivalent of the Peace Corps called Volunteers in Service to America, or VISTA." (Neuman 2009, p. 3): Neuman, Scott (21 April 2009), National Service Act continues U.S. tradition (PDF), National Public Radio (NPR.org), archived from the original (PDF) on 30 March 2012
  4. ^ "H.R. 3794".
  5. ^ "VISTA Timeline". Corporation for National and Community Service. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  6. ^ "Our Leadership". AmeriCorps. Archived from the original on 2021-01-15. Retrieved 9 Jan 2022.
  7. ^ "Director Named for Vista". The V-line. Office of Economic Opportunity. 6 (6). 25 September 1970.
  8. ^ "Conversation with Max Finberg – Director of AmeriCorps VISTA".
  9. ^ "Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-09-21.
  10. ^ "5 U.S. Code § 3331.Oath of office". Cornell Law School. Retrieved 2020-09-21.