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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.
VISTA is an anti-poverty program created by Lyndon Johnson's Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 as the domestic version of the Peace Corps. 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.
VISTA’s legislative purpose, as defined under the Domestic Volunteer Service Act (DVSA) of 1973, 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 currently over 5,000 VISTA members serving in over 1,000 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 to 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.
- Constance Horner, director of VISTA from 1981-1985
- John Lewis (U.S. politician), 1977–1979.
- Jim Ranchino, political scientist who in the late 1960s headed the VISTA program at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas
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.
- "AmeriCorps | Corporation for National and Community Service". Americorps.gov. Retrieved 2013-09-17.
- "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)
- "H.R. 3794".
- "Constance J. Horner". utexas.edu. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
- Lewis, Walking with the Wind, pp. 446–451:
Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement by John Lewis with Michael D'Orso, (Harvest Books: 1999) ISBN 0-15-600708-8.
- "Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
- Official website
- A Personal Journey of Images from 1968 to 1969 by a VISTA volunteer
- Finding Aid: Billy E. Barnes Photographic Collection, 1959–1996, in the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, UNC–Chapel Hill