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.
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 numerous partner sites on and off campus.
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.
Current year-long VISTA positions as of 2023 include the following. Positions currently recruiting have links to their application pages.
- AmeriCorps VISTA Leader: This member, who must have already served a year in an AmeriCorps program, supports other AmeriCorps members through training, orientation, meetings, and communication, and works to support the placement sites, supervisors, and network.
- Acceptance Recovery Center VISTA: This member supports program evaluation, volunteer recruitment, and social media and fundraising in support of this nonprofit focusing on recovery for people displaced by addiction. (Read more and apply here)
- ACCA/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. (Read more and apply here)
- After-School Literacy and Sports VISTAs: These two members help with a new partnership between UGA and the Clarke County School District which provides after-school literacy and team-sports programming for elementary students. (Read more and apply here)
- 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.
- 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.
- Envision Athens VISTA: This member builds and enhances partnerships with local agencies, companies, the local government, non-profits and individuals on Envision Athens priority areas, especially focusing this year on food security, housing, and access to opioid overdose medication.
- UGArden AmeriCorps VISTA: One member recruits and coordinates volunteers and community outreach activities with the UGArden demonstration organic campus farm. A second “UGArden Grows It VISTA” develops and implements a gardening and nutrition education program at UGArden to train teachers, and teach P-12 students in the Athens area by recruiting and training volunteers to both develop a demonstration garden and conduct education-based tours at UGArden.
- 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.
- Oconee Therapeutic Riding VISTA: This member helps recruit and support volunteers and raise funds for this therapeutic riding program in Watkinsville.
Each summer, many of these sites also support Summer Associate (9-week, direct service) VISTAs.
UGA’s AmeriCorps Summer Associates serve full-time for nine weeks with their partner agency, and receive a small living allowance and an end-of-service education award. See more about Summer Associate benefits at https://www.americorps.gov/members-volunteers/vista/summer-associates.
The UGA Summer Associates were selected in early May; see the descriptions and application links below. AmeriCorps Summer Associates must be at least 18 and must be US citizens or permanent residents. The Summer Associates will collaborate with each other across these placements as well and will receive training and support from the Office of Service-Learning and their placement site.
- Abundance Athens: Envision Athens focuses on five areas to work with other agencies to fulfill gaps in service. One of those pillars focuses on food security and is named Abundance Athens, a collaboration with over 20 agencies to work together to find solutions for hunger in Athens, including summer feeding programs for kids and families. One Summer Associate will serve with the Abundance Athens “pillar” to distribute food to individuals, families and children in summer 2023. They will organize and work with volunteers to grow and collect vegetables and fruits in local community gardens, collect non-perishables, and distribute food to those in need at designated areas and times.
- Athens Community Council on Aging: One Summer Associate will support the Athens Community Council on Aging’s Senior Hunger Coalition and Meals on Wheels food distribution programs by participating in day-to-day activities such as unloading and loading food boxes and bags, loading volunteers’ vehicles, driving routes to deliver meals to clients, assisting in coordinating and managing volunteers when needed. They will also recruit volunteers to work in the garden, plan garden work days, and manage day-to-day garden activities. The member also will support efforts related to senior hunger program data collection, assessments, volunteer information gathering, and program impacts, and assist with client education outreach.
- UGA Campus Kitchen: The Campus Kitchen at UGA is the student-powered hunger relief program of the UGA Office of Service-Learning. Each week, volunteers transform unused food from grocery stores and farmers markets into meals and groceries that are delivered to older adults and service agencies in Athens. The Campus Kitchen at UGA goes beyond meals by using food as a tool to combat senior isolation, foster community connections, and engage UGA students and faculty in developing sustainable solutions to food waste and hunger. Two Summer Associates will support all aspects of UGA’s Campus Kitchen’s summer operations, which include volunteer management, menu planning, meal preparation, food recovery, community meal deliveries, and other anti-hunger initiatives such as our new mobile kitchen! The Summer Associates help Campus Kitchen supply healthy meals and groceries to food-insecure households of older adults and children through direct and indirect service.
- UGArden: UGArden is a student-run community and campus farm. Student volunteers help manage and provide the primary labor to grow vegetables, fruits, mushrooms and herbs using organic practices. UGArden aims to build a community of students centered on a sustainable food system– teaching students to grow food using organic practices, and sharing healthy, sustainably grown food with members of the local community through partner organizations. Two Summer Associates will provide support to the UGArden’s summer garden production (weeding, harvesting, watering, planting, etc.), which provides produce for anti-hunger programs in the Athens, GA. They will also collaborate with other AmeriCorps members at these sites, assist with volunteer recruitment and supervision, and support summer outreach efforts to increase purchase and consumption of fresh produce by families in need.
- Athens Library: The Athens Regional Library offers a wide range of services and programming for the Athens, Georgia area, including summer programs for a diverse population of children and young adults to promote reading and learning during out-of-school time. The Young Adult and Children’s Departments offer book clubs, story times, puppet shows, a Summer Reading Program, early childhood literacy programs, and special events. Two Summer Associates will work with these departments to promote and implement summer reading programs to help prevent “summer slide” and to help children develop a love of reading. They will help with promoting the program to community partners; registering kids; distributing recognitions; decorating and creating items for crafts; and assisting library staff with summer reading programs, take-home activities, and other special projects and community outreach.
- College Factory: College Factory is an Athens nonprofit organization dedicated to helping first-generation and underserved high students receive an equitable opportunity to achieve their post-secondary goals. This summer, College Factory is hosting its SAT Preparation and Youth Leadership Camp, an exciting 6 week summer program that equips high school students with the skills needed for college and career readiness. One AmeriCorps Summer Associate will undertake volunteer recruitment, training, and retention efforts to support College Factory’s new Summer Series and to prepare for programming in the fall. This Summer Associate will support College Factory’s mission of providing postsecondary educational planning resources to youth and families. They will help implement the activities for the 6 week SAT preparation and Youth Leadership program, working with camp counselors and community volunteers to plan and implement activities. They will also assist in preparing programming for the upcoming school year and attend College Factory board and leadership meetings.