Become an AmeriCorps VISTA

2013-14 VISTA Cohort

GHCC VISTA Summer Associate Program Announcement
GHCC VISTA Summer Program

Referrals are now being requested to Greater Homewood Community Corporation’s (GHCC) Summer Associate VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Program. The program is an exceptional service opportunity. The deadline to refer candidates is June 1, 2015. I serve as the Program Manager for this initiative.

We are seeking up to 25 participants for an 8 week VISTA Summer Associate Program which will run from June 19 through August 21, 2015. One of the unique aspects of this program is that weekly focus groups will be held to allow participants to help design a future pilot mentorship project for post-incarcerated individuals in Baltimore City. The Summer Associate Program will include a weekly local community service requirement, professional development, and skills building trainings. Additionally, a neighborhood storytelling campaign of the oral histories of various city neighborhoods will be completed.

Participants will receive a stipend totaling $2,557, paid bi-weekly (approximately $319.62 for each 2 week period of service), as well as an Education Award of $1,175, which is good for 7 years after completion of summer service, if they complete the program.

Below are the criteria for candidate referrals:

  • Men and women, must be 18 years of age or older who have exited the prison system and are not currently on parole or probation supervision, OR individuals who have family members with a history of incarceration
  • No convictions for murder OR sexual assault – requiring sexual offender registry
  • Resident of Baltimore City (any zip code)

The AmeriCorps VISTA program endorses three basic assumptions:

  • Private citizens can contribute on a voluntary basis to meet the challenges confronting low-income communities.
  • The skills and energies of AmeriCorps VISTA members are used most effectively when the members live and work in the low-income communities they serve.
  • The full-time personal involvement of AmeriCorps VISTA members brings an added dimension to local public and private nonprofit organizations that work to develop lasting solutions to the problems of low-income communities.

For more information, contact Harold Bailey

About our AmeriCorps VISTA Cohort Program
For more than two decades, GHCC has been a proud sponsor of the AmeriCorps VISTA program. GHCC sponsors a diverse selection of projects that build and strengthen vibrant urban communities throughout Baltimore City and across Maryland.

Our members develop K-12, college, and career opportunities for at-risk youth, create access to healthy options through community organizing and gardening, improve programming that empowers refugees and the homeless, and much more.

To learn about GHCC’s VISTA Cohort and the current VISTA projects, click here.

How to Apply to be a VISTA Member
All interested applicants must complete an online myAmeriCorps application. Go to my.americorps.gov and click “apply to serve” to register and begin your application. A complete application requires 2 references, so be sure to request those early. Please do not send cover letters or resumes unless requested; only online applications will be considered.  Qualifying applicants will be contacted by both GHCC staff and the service site for interviews before final decisions are made.

Schedule
2015-16 GHCC-Sponsored VISTAs will serve full time for a period of one calendar year. All of the VISTA positions require full time dedication, often with responsibilities in the evening and on weekends. Note: Per the policy of CNCS, VISTAs cannot engage in paid work during their year of service.

VISTAs are required to attend a mandatory Pre-Service Orientation (PSO) prior to beginning their year of service. All lodging and travel costs to and from PSO will be covered by CNCS.

Benefits
VISTAs receive a living allowance set at 105% of the poverty line for the city in which they will be serving.  In addition, GHCC-Sponsored VISTAs receive a cell phone stipend and monthly transportation reimbursement.

VISTAs also have the opportunity to enroll in an AmeriCorps Health Benefits Plan (supplemental to health insurance), to apply for SNAP (food stamps), childcare assistance, and other benefits if eligible.

GHCC provides an orientation at the start of the term and monthly in-service training tailored to the VISTA cohort. Training topics have included volunteer management, sustainable project planning, grant writing and reporting, effective communication, and community organizing, among others. Our in-service training, called Professional Development Meetings, are an opportunity for team-building and resource sharing among our VISTA members and are often described as a highlight of their service experience through GHCC.

If relocating more than 50 miles to serve, the VISTA will be considered to receive a travel allowance depending on the distance (not to exceed $1,000) and settling-in allowance (not to exceed $550).

Finally, upon successful completion of the term, VISTAs choose to receive either an Education Award of $5,550 or Cash Stipend of $1,500. The Education Award, which is subject to taxation, can be applied to any federally backed student loan or used to pay school tuition in the future. After serving, VISTAs have one year of non-competitive eligibility for federal employment.

For detailed information about AmeriCorps*VISTA, including member benefits, please click here.

Requirements
All applicants are required to fill out an online application with CNCS and, if selected, provide proof of age, social security number, and citizenship. All selected candidates are required to complete a federal criminal background check and child abuse clearance before beginning service.

Questions
Contact the VISTA Leaders, Lee Domeika and Lily Ross, to ask questions about the application process and GHCC’s VISTA program.