AmeriCorps is a movement and collection of national service programs initially envisioned by President Kennedy, who had visions of it being a domestic Peace Corps. When President Johnson came into office, he sanctioned the VISTA program to fight against the War on Poverty. There are three programs through AmeriCorps where someone can become a member and address issues within a community; this includes but is not limited to: academic achievement, youth mentorship, nature preservation, disaster preparation and relief, among others. AmeriCorps’ overarching goal is to end poverty, and the various service programs come together to achieve that goal. AmeriCorps offers three programs one can apply to, which are AmeriCorps State/National, AmeriCorps NCCC, and AmeriCorps VISTA.
The AmeriCorps State/National program is a service program focused on nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community or faith-based groups throughout the country. Members typically serve between 300-1700 hours of service.
The AmeriCorps NCCC program stands for National Civilian Community Corps and is a ten-month, full-time, service program with a focus on teamwork. This program is open to individuals between 18 to 24 years of age, with teams ranging from 10 to 12 members. These teams travel to the communities they are serving in.
The AmeriCorps VISTA program stands for Volunteers in Service to America and is a one-year full-time service program with a focus on serving at nonprofit organizations or government agencies. Their focus is on capacity building within the organization to alleviate poverty.
Here at Count It! Lock It! Drop It! we currently have three AmeriCorps VISTAs. One VISTA is serving in Hamilton County and one is serving as the statewide VISTA, with a new statewide VISTA joining in July. We also currently have two more VISTA positions open, with Coffee County and Gibson County.
The VISTA program focuses on a local community with the main goal of alleviating poverty, through projects designated by the nonprofit site. There are many different types of projects, including outreach, marketing campaigns, establishing a social media presence, grant writing, recruitment, and more. AmeriCorps offers a broad range of service areas, and this comprises community development, elderly care, ex-offender reentry, environmental issues, disaster relief, public safety, veterans affairs, among others. Each program and service area has its own concerns to focus on, and these small issues come together and connect to alleviating poverty.
AmeriCorps provides a unique opportunity for those fresh out of college, those unsure what career path to take, and even those established in a career and are just looking to make a change. It allows an individual to develop new skills to use in future endeavors, different service areas to focus on, experience different economic situations, and gain a broader perspective. Being a VISTA allows an individual to build management skills and leadership skills; VISTAs are capacity builders focusing on sustainability for local organizations.
To apply for AmeriCorps you must fill out an application; the application asks for your work history, community service history, and your background information. You will also need to write a motivational statement and provide two references.
CLD still has two positions available, one in Coffee County and one in Gibson County. If interested in either of these positions, go to my.americorps.gov and get started!