University of Georgia VISTA Network
The University of Georgia 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 passionate 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 living allowance and receive an end-of-term education grant or stipend. The UGA VISTA Network presently concentrates on alleviating food insecurity through VISTAs working at the UGArden (student-run demonstration organic farm), the Senior Hunger Coalition/Athens Community Council on Aging, and the Campus Kitchen at UGA, a food recovery and redistribution program. The UGA VISTA Network VISTAs also coordinate educational gardens and sustainability programs in Clarke County public schools, as well as building the capacity school for district mentoring programs through UGA’s Center for Leadership and Service and supporting statewide community leadership initiatives via UGA’s JW Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.