New VISTA Program to Address Multiple Root Causes of Poverty

By March 31, 2016Foundation Blog

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by E. Coco, VISTA Program Manager

In 2011, the Foundation embarked on a new and exciting journey in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).  We launched the Phillips Sectoral Employment Initiative (PSEI) AmeriCorps*VISTA program to provide additional resources to our grantees beyond our funding awards.  The goal of PSEI VISTA is to support capacity building activities of organizations active in workforce development.

CNCS typically approves VISTA programs for periods of three to six years, after which point the sponsor (that means us) must reapply to host a cohort of national service members. The Foundation saw such benefits from sponsoring the PSEI VISTA program that we recently decided to propose a new multi-pronged strategy for our VISTA program that builds upon many of the lessons we’ve learned over the past five years.  We were excited to learn in January that our proposal was approved by CNCS.

In partnership with the Pohlad Family Foundation and Twin Cities LISC, the new Phillips VISTA Program will place fifteen national service members in organizations doing exceptional work across three priority areas:

Priority 1. Connecting low-income students to high quality schools. The Phillips Foundation will lead this priority by partnering with the following education focused grantees:  Prodeo Academy, Venture Academy, Friendship Academy of the Arts, KIPP Through College, Hiawatha Academies, and Greater Twin Cities United Way.

Priority 2. Connecting opportunity youth to educational and vocational opportunities. The Pohlad Family Foundation will partner with grantees funded through their Youth Advancement Program. Those partners are:  180 Degrees, Hennepin County Office to End Homelessness, Hennepin Health Foundation, and YouthLink.

Priority 3. Connecting low-income families to career pathways and financial services. Twin Cities LISC will work with Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio and Eastside Financial Center, both grantees under the Bridges to Careers program, an added component of the Financial Opportunity Centers.

Host organizations were selected through a community review process–we couldn’t have chosen such a strong and diverse set of organizations without the insights and support of our wonderful VISTA Advisory Committee!

We are eager to tackle multiple root causes of poverty through this approach and very much look forward to the many lessons this journey will offer.  However, our first task is to recruit 15 exceptional new VISTAs to serve at these organizations! We are confident we will attract great candidates to our program because we value personal growth and development for the VISTA just as much as the contributions they make to their host organizations and the communities they work within. We demonstrate this through our cohort model, alumni mentors, and biweekly professional development, all centered on a social justice framework. We encourage you to visit the Phillips VISTA Program webpage to learn more about the unique aspects of our program and benefits to participation. Here are a few important details you can share with your networks:

  • VISTA members commit to one year of fulltime service from July 26, 2016 to July 29, 2017.
  • The Phillips’ VISTA Application deadline is May 9 2016.
  • Members who successfully complete their year of service can receive $5,775 in education award or a $1,500 cash stipend.

Help us spread the word by checking out our available positions and passing them along to individuals eager to build skills and community.

For more information connect with E. Coco, VISTA Program Manager at ecoco@phillipsfamilymn.org or 612-623-1652.