Each year, AmeriCorps VISTA offers over 8,000 opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds to address the root causes of poverty through a year of service. For over 50 years, VISTA members have been performing indirect service by developing new programs, raising funds, recruiting volunteers, managing projects, building capacity, and assisting families in breaking the cycle of poverty.
For recent graduates, VISTA provides real-world experience unmatched by any entry level job. And for those with more extensive work record, VISTA allows members to apply their veteran skills and knowledge to serious social problems. In return for a year of service, each VISTA member receives a modest living allowance, health benefits, training opportunities, student loan forbearance or deferment, and ongoing professional development. Upon completing their terms, VISTAs obtain a Segal Education Award along with a year of non-competitive eligibility for a federal government position. The greatest benefit of all however, is the chance to positively impact one’s community and country.
PCRG’s AmeriCorps VISTA program emphasizes community based organizations at the forefront of community development practice and impact. The proximity of these groups to the people and businesses they serve enables them to tackle poverty and its complications head on. However, the rapidly changing landscape of Pittsburgh-area neighborhoods and municipalities poses unique challenges and opportunities for grassroots organizations. In some areas, rapid growth threatens to displace low to moderate income residents, while other neighborhoods suffer from long-standing decay and under-investment. PCRG VISTAs placed with PCRG and its community-focused partners aim to build the programming, resources, and organizational capacity necessary to capitalize on these changes. Not surprisingly, their assignments reflect the remarkable diversity of Greater Pittsburgh, concerning issues as varied as urban blight, affordable housing, and entrepreneur development.
PCRG is one of thousands of active AmeriCorps VISTA sponsors nationwide. We place VISTAs at partner nonprofits across the Pittsburgh region and directly with PCRG. Besides those assigned to PCRG, our members are serving with Hazelwood Initiative, Millvale Community Library, New Sun Rising.
West Hartford, CT | Oberlin College: B.A., Economics, Oberlin Conservatory: B.Mus., Jazz Studies
As a veteran of multiple VISTA terms, my continued service reflects a profound commitment to the program’s capacity building mission. Being a VISTA Leader grants me both the opportunity to inspire this passion in others and the chance to learn from their unique service journeys. In this role, I provide mentorship, training, and guidance to six PCRG VISTA members building positive and sustainable change across the Pittsburgh region. Additionally, I work closely with PCRG staff and site supervisors to support member recruitment and program evaluation. Over my service year, I hope cultivate a genuine sense of community among PCRG VISTAs, formed around a common team ethic.
Serving at Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group
Harrisburg, PA | Duquesne University: Sociology & History
After my service with City Year Miami, I was still unable to choose a long-term career path. I chose VISTA because I wanted to turn my indecisiveness regarding my career path into meaningful work that benefits a region I love. My goal for this year is to improve the capacity of my host organization while leveraging available resources to improve my skills and build my professional network. I also hope to build working and personal relationships that will last far beyond this service year. At Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG), I serve as the Outreach VISTA. My work entails writing a comprehensive communications plan for PCRG and its members, social media management, volunteer coordination for PCRG’s annual summit, and marketing for PCRG and the CARL program. I also have a number of smaller-scale, but no less important, projects that I will work on through the year.
Years of working in Development, then as an independent grant-writer and consultant for local artists and small businesses’ provided me with respect and admiration for those who struggle to strike out on their own. The VISTA placement at New Sun Rising provided me an opportunity to better support local entrepreneurs by adding capacity, bandwidth, and network to their efforts. My title at NSR is Equity + Capacity Lead and daily I work to support the projects and businesses that fall under the NSR umbrella through grant-writing, one-on-one strategic development, and marketing efforts. In addition, I add capacity to designing and implementing special events and workshops, both on and off-site. My goals for this year as a VISTA at New Sun Rising are to empower individuals to become their most authentic and successful selves, while also actualizing that development in myself and expanding my network of socially-conscious impactivists in Pittsburgh.
Serving at New Sun Rising
Serving at Hazelwood Initiative
Detroit, MI | Bowling Green State University: Sociology & Global Business Development
Pittsburgh, PA | Slippery Rock University: M.A. English
VISTA offered me a chance to serve my community in a way that I couldn’t when I was working in the private sector or in academia. As the VISTA for the Millvale Community Library, my role is a combination of two past service positions: community outreach and resource development. This means that I tackle a variety of tasks, including building the capacity of our outreach and community relationships, expanding and polishing our volunteer training system and roster, and implementing programs that benefit the residents of Millvale. I hope to leave a lasting impact on the EcoDistrict of Millvale, focusing on the community’s needs regarding transportation, water, and food.
Serving at Millvale Community Library