The University of Georgia AmeriCorps VISTA Network was established in 2013 to support local community partners with AmeriCorps VISTA members to increase their capacity for bringing individuals and communities out of poverty in the Athens, GA area. The AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) program places qualified individuals in a year-long, full-time position to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency. They focus their efforts to build the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of organizations that improve health and educational services, reduce food insecurity, foster economic development, and otherwise assist low-income communities. AmeriCorps VISTAs are compensated with a small living allowance, health coverage, possible relocation allowance, and receive an end-of-term education grant or stipend. See more on the VISTA program and its requirements and benefits.
With a focus on food insecurity and waste, sustainability and educational initiatives, the UGA VISTA Network includes year-long VISTAs and/or summer associates placed at schools in Clarke and Barrow Counties (Grow It Know It), Athens Regional Library, Athens Community Council on Aging, College Factory, Clarke County Mentor Program, and on campus (Campus Kitchen-UGA, UGArden, and Experience UGA). UGA's VISTA Network is supported by VISTA Leaders who support the UGA VISTA Network, its AmeriCorps VISTAs, sites and stakeholders to build capacity, fight poverty and enhance connections between the University of Georgia and the Athens, GA community.
COVID-19 Emergency Operations
During spring/summer 2020, many VISTAs had some of their activities reoriented towards supporting anti-hunger initiatives in the local community. See for example,
Current year-long VISTA positions as of 2020 include the following. Positions currently recruiting have a link next to their description. A second VISTA Leader with a target start date in early 2021 is also expected (must have already served 1 year in an AmeriCorps placement to qualify as a Leader):
- Campus Kitchen AmeriCorps VISTA: This member focuses on increasing the capacity of the Campus Kitchen at UGA to collect food donations and produce and distribute meals to food-insecure seniors in Athens-Clarke County. The VISTA strengthens volunteer recruitment and training procedures and sustains partnerships with UGA service-learning courses, UGA student organizations, and local service agencies.
- Senior Hunger Coalition AmeriCorps VISTA: This member is placed at the Athens Community Council on Aging (ACCA) and works on food security partnerships serving older adults.
- Grow It Know It/School Garden AmeriCorps VISTAs: These members are placed at middle and elementary schools in Clarke County (and, since 2018, in Barrow Co.) to recruit and train volunteers to assist with school gardens, develop and implement garden, nutrition, and sustainability programs at local middle schools, support food waste reduction and promote increased use of fresh produce in the school cafeteria, and build capacity for program sustainability.
- Athens-Clarke Co. Library AmeriCorps VISTA: This member works with the library's teen services and leverages volunteers and community organizations to offer a range of relevant programming for young adults at the library.
- Clarke Co. Mentor Program AmeriCorps VISTA: This member helps recruit, train, and support community and UGA mentors who are partnered with mentees in the Clarke Co. School District.
- College Factory AmeriCorps VISTA: This member builds capacity with the organization which has programs supporting college awareness and readiness for low-income and first-generation prospective college students.
- UGArden AmeriCorps VISTA: This member recruits and coordinates volunteers and community outreach activities with the UGArden demonstration organic campus farm.
- Experience UGA AmeriCorps VISTA: This member helps develop partnerships, recruit and train volunteers, and develop support materials for this partnership between UGA and the Clarke County School District, focused on campus educational visits for all CCSD students.
Each summer, many of these sites also support Summer Associate (8-week, direct service) VISTAs.
To learn more about the VISTA Network, contact UGA AmeriCorps VISTA Leader Kai Lawrence (email@example.com).