YouthBuild USA Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of AmeriCorps VISTA

Wednesday, December 2, 2015
VISTA Alums Allie Goldsmith, Chris Thibault and Jessica Slicer, VISTA Director Steve Dosch and VISTA Coordinator Vanessa Bennett at a Cradles 2 Crayons service event

This year marked the 50th anniversary of AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) and a year-long celebration of the national service program’s powerful impact on communities across the country. Over the last 50 years VISTA has placed passionate and innovative volunteers at nonprofits in urban and rural communities with the goal of advancing solutions to end poverty.

YouthBuild USA has been a partner with VISTA since 2009 and in that time placed 348 members at 60 local programs across the country.  Each of these members has spent a year building capacity and sustainability at their sites through fundraising, volunteer generation, and resource development.

“Not only have (VISTA members) brought a great new energy and added capacity to our collective work, they have also served as role models for service,” says YouthBuild USA President Sangeeta Tyagi. She continues by saying, “VISTAs exemplify the idea that each one of us can and must contribute to the greater good in society and we are proud to have been able to host VISTAs within the YouthBuild network over these past six years.”

AmeriCorps VISTA members have raised over $8.7 million in grants and individual donations, recruited more than 3,000 volunteers, and built 600 educational and employment partnerships. Their service has increased access to post-secondary education through the organization of campus tours, design of financial aid workshops, and creation of online resource platforms. They have expanded job training and professional development opportunities with job shadowing and mock interviews, and the organization of career fairs and resume writing workshops.

In addition to the impact that VISTA has had on programs, it has also been a professional and academic catalyst for many members. Through the benefit of the Segal Education Award, dozens of members have returned to school to further their education. Many others have drawn on the skills they gained during service to advance their career goals, more than 30 have joined a YouthBuild program as full time staff.

As the 50th anniversary comes to a close with a culminating event this Thursday in Austin, TX, YouthBuild USA is proud to recognize the commitment and dedication of our national service members in fighting poverty, strengthening communities and bolstering the YouthBuild movement.

Check out what some members and former members had to say about their VISTA service:

Rachel Beck-Burman

Steven Love II

Melissa Mercado

Elijah Stephenson

Sarah Norman