Welcome VISTA Cohort 2017-2018

In 2016, The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota launched a new AmeriCorps VISTA program: C3 Twin Cities. During its first year, our C3 members had tremendous impact: they strengthened the capacity of their organizations by expanding their social media reach, building more effective programs, and increasing engagement with their stakeholders.  These members also built their own skills and knowledge which they will carry with them in their future endeavors whether that be pursuing further education or careers in private and public sectors. Here are a few words from our outgoing VISTAs on the impact of C3:

“The amount of personal and professional growth I experienced during my year of service with C3 Twin Cities is astounding. The challenging social justice based curriculum pushed me to become a better person. Further, C3 connected me with an amazing site where I was able to take on responsibility of some really cool projects such as building an app collaboratively and organizing and managing a large conference. This past year was so powerful that I signed up for a second year of service.”

–Sarah Reiter

“During my time as an AmeriCorps VISTA with C3 Twin Cities, I learned many things that made me evaluate my own personal impact in the community. For example, our training on Community Wealth Building was particularly impactful…I had never heard of this kind of community economic development framework.”

-Mychie Yang

2016-2017 C3 VISTA members at the End of Service Celebration!

It’s with a tinge of sadness and great pride that we sent off our inaugural cohort at the end of July 2017, while simultaneously welcoming our next thoughtful and energetic C3 members pictured below! Our 2017-18 VISTA members come to us from all over the country and have a variety of backgrounds: Berkley, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Colorado, South Africa are just a few of the many places our VISTAs call home. We have members who would gladly participate in a cook off, a social justice book club, or running team! We’re lucky to have a group with many diverse interests and we know we all share a passion for supporting efforts that build economic justice for the Twin Cities.

So, how will we support efforts that help reduce poverty in the Twin Cities region? C3 Twin Cities has a sub-cohort structure which allows us to approach these complex social problems in a more holistic way. Each sub-cohort is led by a partner with expertise in a particular area of work and is made up of organizations implementing strategies supporting those collective goals—here’s who we are:

  • Nexus Community Partners (Community Wealth Building): Build economic development strategies that ensure local and broad-based ownership for vibrant local economies:
    • Appetite for Change
    • Better Futures
    • City of Lakes Community Land Trust
    • Eastside Financial Center
  • The Pohlad Family Foundation (Opportunity Youth): Rekindle the dreams of youth who are disconnected from school and employment by connecting them to career pathway and post-secondary options:
    • Minneapolis/Hennepin County Office to End Homelessness
    • Hennepin Health Foundation/MVNA
    • YouthLink
    • Project for Pride in Living-LEAP Initiative
  • The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota (Education): Reimagine how schools build community, incorporate relevance and engage parents for student success.
    • North Community High School (NSTEM)
    • KIPP Academy
    • Friendship Academy of the Arts
    • Hiawatha Academies

To learn more about each VISTA host organization please visit our “Host Site” webpage.

As you can imagine from the great list of VISTA host organizations, we have a lot of work to get done this year. But before we jump into work plans, we make sure our members have what they need to feel prepared and successful in their roles. That’s why, every Friday during the month of August, we host C3 Twin Cities new member orientation. On our first Friday we welcomed Neeraj Mehta from the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs to lead us in uncovering the root causes of injustice which lead to the current state of poverty in the United States.  Later, Elena Gaarder, program officer at Nexus Community Partners, presented the Community Wealth Building framework which provides strategies to democratize wealth and reduce poverty.

VISTA members create a visualization of the characteristics of their ideal supervisor

At the foundation of any great year of service is also self awareness of ones strengths, how to operate effectively on a team by using those strengths and being able to effectively communicate when conflict may come up (and we know it will!). Kelly C. Weiley, founder of CoAct Consulting, brought great energy and expertise to this joint session with VISTAs and supervisors who now have a better sense for how to best work together!

Of course, we sprinkle in fun team building activities to solidify our cohort and lay down a positive starting point for professional and personal relationships to flourish—our VISTAs participated in a Twin Cities wide scavenger hunt, some happy hours and a fun day boat pedaling at Bde Maka Ska.

Learn more about us and follow our journey by visiting our website, reading our C3 blog and following us on Facebook. If you want to speak with C3 Twin Cities staff, contact E. Coco, Program Officer, ecoco@phillipsfamilymn.org or Sarah Reiter, VISTA Leader, sreiter@phillipsfamilymn.org

We look forward to sharing our learnings and successes along the way!

Bottom (left to right) Madison McConnell (Hiawatha Academies); Adam Kolb (Office to End Homelessness); Raquel Arismendez (Project for Pride in Living); Melanie Heckt (Appetite for Change). Top (right to left); Madeline Geitz (Eastside Financial Center, LSS); Olivia Hanson (Friendship Academy); Eden Teller (KIPP Through College); Nonkoluleko Shongwe (Nexus Community Partners); Robbin Olsen Molnar (Better Futures); Hli Vang (Youthlink); Henry DeGrand (North Community High School); Sarah Reiter (Phillips Family Foundation of MN); Diana Siegel-Garcia (Pohlad Family Foundation);  and Ollin Montes (City of Lakes Community Land Trust).