Friday, June 21, 2013

NC Campus Compact sponsors 16 VISTA sites in 2013-2014

Since 2003, NC Campus Compact has sponsored an AmeriCorps VISTA program that places VISTA “volunteers” at member campuses to support community engagement projects that address local, poverty-related needs. In 2013 – 2014, sixteen sites across the state will host NC Campus Compact VISTAs.

Typically, a member campus hosts a VISTA in partnership with a local non-profit or K-12 school, but for the first time next term, we are flipping the model to allow several community-based organizations to host VISTAs in partnership with a campus. We expect this approach will position our VISTAs to be even more responsive to community needs and find new ways to engage campus resources in community-based work. All of the 16 projects will address one of the priority focus areas identified by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps programs. The focus areas are education, food security, and economic opportunity. Short summaries for each our 2013-2014 projects are below.

Community Empowerment Fund (CEF)
Partner: UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity
Focus Area: Economic Opportunity

CEF is a student-led non-profit organization based at UNC-Chapel Hill with the dual mission of empowering members to sustain transitions out of homelessness and developing student leadership. The goal of the VISTA project is to increase the capacity and effectiveness of CEF’s Advocate Program, which pairs student volunteer advocates with clients. Advocates support clients through financial coaching, job readiness support, financial literacy education, and connection to housing, mental health, and higher education services. The VISTA will refine and develop CEF’s outreach, intake, and training processes for volunteers, including the creation of a volunteer handbook, implementation of ongoing training curriculum for volunteers, and creation of internal communications systems and protocols. The VISTA will also refine the client intake system and strengthen an existing partnership with the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity.

Duke University, Community Service Center
Partner: Lyon Park Community Center
Focus Area: Healthy Futures

The goals of the Lyon Park Commercial Kitchen VISTA project are to provide access to healthy food for residents of the West End Community and to develop programs that will educate residents on food preparation and healthy eating. The VISTA member will assist with the final stages of the kitchen development and work closely with the Programming Committee to develop programs that meet the needs and interests of community members. The VISTA will develop leadership capacity of committee members by modeling strategic planning methods. Additionally, the VISTA will network with local organizations to develop collaborative programming to teach healthy eating and cooking habits.

Duke University, Partnership for Appalachian Girls Education (PAGE)
Partner: Madison County Schools
Focus Area: Education

The goal of the project is to help young girls and young women in economically-distressed Appalachian communities (Madison County) achieve educational success, including high school completion and college matriculation. The VISTA will carry out activities that support this goal and help PAGE achieve long-term sustainability. The VISTA will collect and compile data on graduation rates and student needs and challenges; assist with an assessment of PAGE programs’ impact on participating students; and develop a strategic fundraising plan. Finally, the VISTA will develop a publicity and outreach plan directed at recruitment and retention of clients and at informing a wider audience of volunteers and supporters.

East Carolina University
Partner: Third Street Community Center
Focus Area(s): Education

At ECU, the VISTA will be hosted by the Volunteer and Service-Learning Center (VSLC). VISTA work will take place on campus and in the community with the Third Street Community Center (TSCC), a new faith-based non-profit meeting youth and workforce development needs in west Greenville. The VISTA will work primarily to support TSCC by developing a volunteer management system, recruiting ECU student volunteers, identifying potential campus partners, and creating an after-school program at TSCC.

Elizabeth City State University (ECSU)
Partner: H.L. Trigg Alternative School
Focus Area(s): Education

At ECSU, the VISTA will be hosted by the Student Life Office. VISTA work will take place on campus and in the community with H.L. Trigg Alternative School, an alternative school serving at-risk students located beside the ECSU campus. The VISTA project aims to support teachers and students at Trigg, engage ECSU students and campus resources in service at Trigg, and to establish appropriate mentoring, tutoring, or afterschool enrichment programs for Trigg students. The VISTA will enhance volunteer recruitment and training, support the development of student organizations that will partner with Trigg, and make on-campus enrichment opportunities available to Trigg students. The VISTA will also coordinate national day of service events.

High Point University
Partner: West End Ministries
Focus Area(s): Economic Opportunity

At High Point University (HPU) the VISTA will be hosted by the Service Learning Program, which is home to the new Bonner Leaders Program. The VISTA’s work will take place on campus and in the community with West End Ministries (WEM), a non-profit agency that provides services such as emergency assistance and adult life skill classes. The VISTA will improve WEM’s volunteer coordination and training systems to support the emergency assistance program. The VISTA will also help develop financial literacy training for WEM clients. The VISTA will serve as a model of how HPU Bonner Leaders can act as liaisons with partner agencies and will help develop supports for students in these roles. The VISTA will also coordinate MLK Day of Service.

Hospitality House of Boone
Partner: Appalachian State University
Focus Area(s): Economic Opportunity

The goal of the VISTA project is to develop the “Enterprise Project,” a thrift store program that will provide an earned income funding source for Hospitality House, act as a resource to meet clients’ needs, and serve as a job skills training program and facility for residents and outreach clients. The VISTA project will build the capacity of Hospitality House to stay sustainable and to continue impacting the community in positive ways through the increased collaboration with the Appalachian State University ACT Program. It will further increase community awareness of the agency and its work, while serving as a new way to recruit and cultivate volunteers to give of their time, talents and treasures.

Lenoir-Rhyne University
Partner: El Centro Latino of Hickory
Focus Area(s): Education, Healthy Futures

At LRU, the VISTA will be hosted by the Office of Engaged Learning and Community Service, which coordinates campus volunteers and service learning opportunities. VISTA work will take place on campus and in the community with Centro Latino of Hickory, a local non-profit agency serving the needs of Latino families in Catawba Valley. This is the 2nd year of the partnership. The VISTA will support Centro’s after-school tutoring program through volunteer recruitment and training. The VISTA will also assist in the development of new food and nutrition programs at Centro. The VISTA will aid in creating a social media manager position at Centro. She will also coordinate food drives and national days of service at LRU.

Marian Cheek Jackson Center
Partner: UNC-Chapel Hill Communications Studies
Focus Area(s): Economic Opportunity

The Jackson Center is a community-based advocacy organization serving historically African-American and low-income neighborhoods in Chapel Hill through public history, civic media, and community action. The VISTA will support the development of Jackson Center programs that serve the housing and financial literacy needs of local low-income residents. Key activities include the maintenance and expansion of service partnerships with university units (including the Communications Studies department), volunteer recruitment and coordination, and the development of a new neighborhood advocacy network to pair elderly residents with student and community advocates who can connect them with services.

NCSU/ Raleigh Colleges and Community Collaborative (RCCC)
Partners: Chavis Heights Community Center
Focus Area(s): Education

At NC State, the VISTA will be hosted by the University Career Development Center, the lead office in the Raleigh Colleges and Community Collaborative (RCCC), a group seeking to promote post-secondary access and success for under-resourced youth in Raleigh. The VISTA will work on campus and in the community with Chavis Heights Community Center,the main site for the RCCC’s College Center. The VISTA will coordinate services and programs at the existing College Center site and seek to expand the model to other partner agencies. Specifically, the VISTA will monitor community needs and catalog RCCC assets, conduct outreach, enhance volunteer management/training, create a participant database, and develop after-school and summer programs.

Queens University of Charlotte
Partner: Sedgefield Elementary School
Focus Area(s): Education

At Queens the VISTA will be hosted by the Center for Active Citizenship, the organization on campus that facilitates campus-community partnerships. VISTA work will take place on campus and in the community at Sedgefield Elementary School, a nearby Title I school where 96% of students are eligible for free/reduced price lunch. Queens will be in its 3rd year of partnership with Sedgefield. The VISTA will work to mobilize volunteers at Sedgefield, to plan enrichment opportunities for Sedgefield students, and to create and strengthen partnerships with university departments, faculty, and student organizations. The VISTA will also begin planning to evaluate the impact of the Sedgefield partnership. The VISTA will also coordinate national days of service.

Partner: Open Doors of Asheville
Focus Area(s): Education

At UNCA, the VISTA will be hosted by the Key Center for Service-Learning and Community Citizenship, which serves as a hub for campus/community engagement efforts. VISTA work will take place on campus and in the community with Open Doors of Asheville, a local non-profit serving at-risk youth through education, enrichment, tutoring, and mentoring. The goal of the partnership is to create mutually beneficial, long-term sustainable projects centered on improving educational and behavioral outcomes for low-achieving students in elementary, middle, and high schools in the Asheville area. Partnership objectives include supporting the development of a new mentorship program between Open Doors and UNCA’s Intercultural Center, building volunteer capacity for the Bright Ideas academic enrichment program serving Open Doors youth at two local Title I elementary schools, and promoting national days of service and community service related to K-12 at-risk youth.

Partner: Interactive Resource Center
Focus Area(s): Economic Opportunity

At UNCG, the VISTA will be hosted by the Office of Leadership and Service-Learning (OLSL), which develops experiential curricular and co-curricular leadership and service-learning initiatives. VISTA work will take place on campus and in community with the Interactive Resource Center (IRC), Greensboro’s day center for people experiencing homelessness. The first year of the project focused on food security with the development of IRC’s Community Garden. In this second year of the project, the VISTA will focus on economic opportunity, especially improving IRC housing services (Trailways Housing Program, Second Chance Renters program). Campus activities will raise awareness about poverty engagement opportunities and train campus leaders.

Partner: Pembroke Housing Authority Residential Services
Focus Area(s): Education, Healthy Futures

At UNCP, the VISTA will be hosted by the Office for Community & Civic Engagement, which supports the university’s mission to empower students to engage in responsible citizenship. The VISTA work will take place on campus and in the community with PHA Residential Services, which provides services for public housing residents. The VISTA will develop and implement university-community collaborations that: 1.) address social and academic issues for at-risk youth, and 2.) create a CARE resource center for distressed students and community members. The community will see an increase in opportunities for at-risk youth to be involved in positive youth development and increased youth involvement in the community through student-led service related projects. Community organizations and local leadership will support and sponsor more collaborations with the university to provide sustainable resources to area youth, local citizens and underrepresented communities.

Wake Forest University
Partner: El Buen Pastor Latino Family Services
Focus Area(s): Education, Healthy Futures

At Wake Forest University, the VISTA will be hosted by the Office of Service & Social Action. VISTA work will take place on campus and in the community with El Buen Pastor Latino Family Services, a local non-profit serving the needs of Latino families in Winston-Salem’s Old Town neighborhood. The VISTA will work to improve volunteer management and training at El Buen Pastor, recruit volunteers for its afterschool program, and develop nutrition education materials for children and families. The VISTA will also support a new on-campus network for student volunteers involved in mentoring and tutoring and coordinate the MLK Day of Service Read-In.

Western Carolina University
Partner: The Community Table
Focus Area(s): Healthy Futures

At Western Carolina, the VISTA will be hosted by the Center for Service Learning, the unit that coordinates campus-community partnerships. VISTA work will take place on campus and in the community with the Community Table, the primary food security agency in Jackson County, serving hot meals and food boxes. The goal of project is to strengthen the relationship between the partners, to build capacity at the Community Table, and to raise awareness about food insecurity. The project aims to provide the Community Table with the resources necessary to meet their customers’ needs, to train and manage volunteers, and to enhance publicity and outreach efforts. The project is also intended to increase awareness of food insecurity issues on campus and in the community through hunger-related projects and programs.