Washburn University announced that it has been awarded a sponsorship grant to administer an AmeriCorps VISTA program in Shawnee, Douglas and Atchison Counties. The grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), will allow the Washburn VISTA project to place volunteers in 19 community agencies.
The Washburn VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) project is operated through the Washburn Learning in the Community Center (LinC) which promotes experiences that enhance learning while simultaneously improving the community.
“The VISTA project is a great complement for the projects in our center,” said Dr. Rick Ellis, LinC director and the project manager. “The VISTA volunteers will be working on developing and enhancing programs for community organizations but won’t be doing direct work with their clients. Their work will help pave the way for more opportunities for our student, faculty and staff volunteers through the year.”
According to Ellis, the work for Washburn’s VISTA volunteers will center on economic development, promotion of STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and on Opioid addiction prevention and treatment.
“We’re in the process of gathering partner organizations who are interested in hosting the VISTA volunteers now,” Ellis said, “and we’re about to place our first volunteers.”
Ellis noted that organizations are obligated to pay the community match for VISTA workers of about $4 thousand. In return, the Americorps VISTA members make a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency, where they learn valuable work skills, earn money for education, and develop an appreciation for citizenship.
VISTA members focus their efforts on building the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of local organizations which fight illiteracy, improve health services, foster economic development, and otherwise assist low-income communities. Partnering agencies will utilize VISTA members to build the capacity of their organization and enhance its ability to serve the community.
The Washburn project will join the more than 80,000 Americans across the U.S. who are placed in intensive service at nonprofit, school, public agency, community or faith-based organizations.