Frequently Asked Questions
AmeriCorps VISTA VCMP
|When does the application process begin?|
|What is the selectionprocess and criteria?|
|How many hours do I have to complete during my service?||What is CDT?|
AmeriCorps is a network of local, state, and national service programs that connects more than 70,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet our country’s critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment.
Yes. AmeriCorps is often referred to as "the domestic Peace Corps." Both agencies are committed to service, and both offer challenging and rewarding full-time opportunities. However, Peace Corps assignments are all overseas, and AmeriCorps members serve only in the US.
BIRCH stands for Building Initiatives in Rural Community Health. During their service members focus on addressing public health and wellness issues that affect their communities.
RAVEN stands for Rural Alaska Village Environmental Network. During their service members focus on addressing environmental issues that affect their communities as well as hosting healthy activities for youth.
AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) provides full-time members to nonprofit, faith-based and other community organizations, and public agencies to create and expand programs that ultimately bring low-income individuals and communities out of poverty.
VISTA Village Council Management Program is a community service program designed to help rural Alaska communities build their management and administrative capacity through volunteer service. The program recruits and trains individuals to serve for one year in their community assisting with grant writing, computer training, community planning, and development.
VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) is a capacity building program where members focus on grant writing programs, computer training, and community planning projects. AmeriCorps (RAVEN and BIRCH) is a direct service program where members identify the needs of their community and address those needs by implementing programs or activities.
RAVEN, BIRCH, and VISTA VCMP members serve a minimum of one year and a maximum of two years.
Yes. You can serve a third year as a VISTA or an AmeriCorps Member, but rather than receiving an education award you will receive a stipend. As a VISTA member you can serve a third year as an AmeriCorps Member. At the end of your service you will be able to choose between an education award or a stipend. However, if you have already received two education awards as a VISTA you will be unable to receive a third as one person is limited to receiving two education awards in a lifetime.
Yes. You must be from the community in which you serve. RurAL CAP’s National Service Programs are BIRCH, RAVEN, and VCMP VISTA and they are all located in rural villages. With the exception of Students in Service, Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau are not served by RurAL CAP’s National Service Programs.
Yes. You must be at least 18 to serve as an AmeriCorps or VISTA member; there is no upper age limit.
Yes. All members receive training at the beginning of their service, as well as project specific training during service.
AmeriCorps and VISTA members need to depend on a local site supervisor to provide day to day support for their projects. Site supervisors oversee the projects and must check in with the member at least once per week to sign paperwork and talk about work plans. Anchorage staff also checks in about once a week via telephone.
Recruitment begins in late September – with applications being mailed to all tribal and city offices around the state. Individuals interested in being an AmeriCorps member must complete an “Individual Application” and work with a local host agency to complete a “Site Application.” The two applications should be submitted together. All members of the RAVEN and BIRCH programs are from the villages that they work in. Applications from outside of Alaska are not eligible.
Interviews generally occur in November or early December. Sites and individuals are notified in late December if they receive a position. Positions will start January 16, 2007 and last for 12 months.
AmeriCorps positions are awarded to sites and individuals based on:
- Demonstrated need in the community (health issues for BIRCH, environmental issues for RAVEN)
- Demonstrated community support to host a member (including designating a site supervisor, committing to providing office space and phone/fax/internet/computer access to the AmeriCorps member, and committing to supporting the AmeriCorps member and his/her projects)
- Demonstrated commitment of potential AmeriCorps member to complete a full year of AmeriCorps service – including interest in serving the community, addressing health or environmental issues, completing program requirements, and a commitment to community service.
- Ability of the potential AmeriCorps member to be self-motivated, maintain a positive attitude, work with little supervision, and have the desire to ‘get things done’ in rural AK
- AmeriCorps members must commit to serving full time, traveling to three trainings during the year, completing all paperwork, participating in the monthly teleconferences, and following program policies.
- Applicants with prior work experience, past service with AmeriCorps, history of volunteerism, and experience with addressing health or environmental issues are especially encouraged to apply.
AmeriCorps positions are a full time commitment. Members are required to serve 1700 hours of service to their community in one year. These hours may not necessarily be a Monday – Friday 9 to 5 schedule, rather members adapt the hours to fit their project schedules.
AmeriCorps members who complete a term of service receive an AmeriCorps Education Award to pay back loans or put towards future education as well as a modest monthly living allowance in bimonthly stipends.
AmeriCorps (BIRCH and RAVEN) members are eligible only for the education award in their first two years of service. However, if two years have already been served you may serve a third year as a VISTA Member and receive a stipend rather than an education award.
You may qualify for postponement, or forbearance, of the repayment of your loans during your service. The education award will help you pay off qualified student loans when you're finished. Contact your lender for more specific information or to confirm your loan status during AmeriCorps service.
Each community will be different because each community is unique in its needs. At the beginning of every term, AmeriCorps members survey community members about positive things in the community and what they would like to see change. It is the member’s responsibility to address these needs in projects throughout the year.
There are many organizations throughout the state that support AmeriCorps members. The State of Alaska funds Ninestar Enterprises, and the Southeast Alaska Guidance Association (SAGA) along with RurAL CAP. There are also AmeriCorps and VISTA members serving with the American Red Cross of Alaska, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Tanana Chiefs Conference, and Boys and Girls Clubs.
It is a form that needs to be filled out after each activity and sent into your RAVEN or BIRCH coordinator at RurAL CAP so they can document your projects. We want to track how much you accomplish throughout the year. To best do this, we need your help in counting participants and volunteers at each event you host. Every month we add these up and keep a running tally showing your success!
Recruitment begins in late September – with applications being mailed to all tribal and city offices around the state. All members of the VISTA program are from the villages that they work in. Applications from outside of Alaska are not eligible.
VISTA positions are awarded to sites and individuals based on:
- Demonstrated need in the community
- Demonstrated community support to host a member (including designating a site supervisor, committing to providing office space and phone/fax/internet/computer access to the VISTA member, and committing to supporting the VISTA member and his/her projects)
- Demonstrated commitment of potential VISTA member to complete a full year of VISTA service – including interest in serving the community, addressing health or environmental issues, completing program requirements, and a commitment to community service.
- Ability of the potential VISTA member to be self-motivated, maintain a positive attitude, work with little supervision, and have the desire to ‘get things done’ in rural AK
- VISTA members must commit to serving full time, traveling to three trainings during the year, completing all paperwork, participating in the monthly teleconferences, and following program policies.
- Applicants with prior work experience, past service with VISTA and history of volunteerism.
VISTA leaders support and help coordinate larger AmeriCorps*VISTA projects and/or regions, involving at least eight VISTA members, in their efforts to address the needs of low-income communities. Leaders serve as recruiters, coordinators, trainers, and resource providers who strengthen the capacity of AmeriCorps*VISTA members, projects, and community members. They will also serve as a mentor, supporter, and resource for the VISTA members.
Any private non-profit agency or public agency with a program idea that is poverty related in scope can apply for VISTA resources. These members can then be used to address the identified problem. Potential sponsors must have the capacity and commitment to recruit, train, supervise, and otherwise support VISTA members.
Big Brothers Big Sisters, Juneau; Adult Learning Programs of Alaska, Fairbanks; University of Alaska Center for Economic Development, Anchorage; Nine Star Enterprises, Anchorage; Fairbanks North Star Borough, Fairbanks; Municipality of Anchorage, Anchorage; Older Persons Action Group, Anchorage;
The selection process is a joint process between RurAL CAP and the hosting Tribal or City Council. We are looking for individuals with a commitment to their community and a willingness to learn new skills and work potentially long hours. The applicant should be pretty creative as well. However, this criteria varies by program.
VISTA’s are 40 hours a week, but are considered 24/7. They do not have to keep track of their hours, but they do need to work out an acceptable schedule with their site supervisor.
AmeriCorps members who complete a term of service receive an AmeriCorps Education Award as well as a modest monthly living allowance. VISTA members receive a stipend every two weeks, they get $995 a month, half of that every two weeks. VISTA’s also have the option of receiving either an education award or a stipend at the end of their term of service. Both AmeriCorps and VISTA members are limited to only two education awards per life-time.
VISTA members are eligible for either an education award or a stipend at the end of their service, unless they have already done two years of AmeriCorps or VISTA (each person is allowed two education awards in their lifetime).
You may qualify for postponement, or forbearance, of the repayment of your loans during your service. The education award will help you pay off qualified student loans when you're finished. Contact your lender for more specific information or to confirm your loan status during VISTA service.
An umbrella organization is any organization that can support more than 8 VISTA members and a VISTA leader. For example, RurAL CAP is considered an umbrella organization.
Pre-Service Orientation. PSO’s are generally how a VISTA member begins is his or her service. This is where VISTA members are sworn into their year of service; therefore, all VISTA candidates must attend PSO before serving as a VISTA member
Continued Development Training. CDT’s usually happen twice a year, one in the springtime and one in the late autumn/early winter and are typically 2 and a half days long.