Corporation for National and Community Service: New Mexico AmeriCorps VISTA Program
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) New Mexico State Program Office seeks applications for the AmeriCorps VISTA program from innovative, high-performing and outcome driven organizations that share the VISTA mission to provide long term solutions to poverty. This Call for Concept Paper is for placement of VISTA members contingent on FY18 federal budget decisions. Organizations interested in sponsoring an AmeriCorps VISTA project in New Mexico are invited to submit a concept paper.
The AmeriCorps VISTA program places AmeriCorps VISTA members at sponsoring organizations that absorb most of the costs related to project supervision and logistical support. CNCS provides a modest living allowance and certain benefits for members. Investment by the sponsoring organization and the community is fundamental to the VISTA program, as the VISTA resources are intended to be short-term.
The New Mexico State Program Office seeks applications for VISTA projects with a minimum of five full time VISTA members. If an applicant is unable to administratively support at least 5 full time members, the applicant may collaborate with partnering organizations and consider applying as an intermediary for multiple sites that can host members. CNCS expects that a majority of AmeriCorps VISTA resources will be invested in building the capacity of anti-poverty programs and organizations operating in the following programming areas:
1. Economic Opportunity: Project activities should focus on the following objectives of Economic Opportunity:
- Employment: Improving or creating job skills training programs that lead to increased employment, including vocational education
- Financial Literacy: Improving access to services and benefits designed to lead to enhanced financial literacy for both adults and young students
- Housing: Transitioning individuals into or helping them remain in safe, healthy, affordable housing, with a special focus on veterans
2. Education: Projects should focus on the following objectives:
- School readiness for economically disadvantaged young children
- K-12 success in student educational and behavioral outcomes in low-achieving schools
- Post-secondary success
- Expanding projects focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education programs that will build partnerships between STEM students, faculty/staff, and community partners to develop long-term solutions for bolstering the number of underrepresented students who obtain STEM degrees
3. Healthy Futures: Projects should support the following Healthy Futures objectives:
- Obesity and Food (Food Resources): Improving access to nutritious food.
- Access to Health Care: Connecting economically disadvantaged individuals to preventative and primary health care services.
- Opioid addiction recovery: Applications are welcomed from nonprofit health clinics or local/state agencies using research-validated techniques, like cognitive behavioral therapy and Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) who could use VISTA members to help increase outreach to low-income rural communities currently not served or are underserved by opioid treatment programs. One programming goal might include developing new partnerships with programs that offer employment, legal, education and/or services support, such as Legal Aid, WIC clinics and community colleges. Other goals could be fundraising to support existing or new telemedicine services, creating or enhancing community volunteer or peer volunteer programs and creating outreach materials to encourage addict enrollment in the recovery program.
- Hunger: This program supports projects that further leverage coordination between national service programs and public/private partnerships. Potential focus areas might include projects that expand breakfast in the classroom or address transportation barriers to food access, specifically in rural areas or other venues with hard to reach populations. Additionally, AmeriCorps VISTA will give priority to projects that increase access to healthy foods across generational lines (e.g., a VISTA project that develops a one-stop, congregate meal program model where food for parents and their infants and children or seniors could be provided simultaneously). Ideal projects will advance wrap-around services and move individuals and families toward economic self-sufficiency.
- Health care: This focus is on funding projects that aim to ensure that underserved low-income individuals and families are connected to primary care providers and ongoing preventative health care services. Seamless access will involve developing health care resources that: 1) bring culturally relevant services to underserved groups according to age, geography, and disability; 2) create wrap-around support including physical, mental, and social welfare elements; and 3) assist individuals in accessing health insurance coverage and finding a primary care provider.
4. Veterans and Military Families: This program area will support projects that focus on low-income veterans and military families as beneficiaries or enhance existing projects to better serve those populations in the following areas:
- Economic opportunity: Employment, financial literacy, housing (particularly veterans’ homelessness)
- Education: School readiness, success in K-12 education and college success
- Healthy futures: Food security, access to health care
Additional priority area information:
- While other community issues may be funded, current priority issue areas are: 1) opioid addiction recovery and 2) veteran and military families.
- Within the four focus areas detailed above, AmeriCorps VISTA encourages new project development where appropriate in the following specific programming areas. Projects focused in these three areas will be given the highest consideration for investments of AmeriCorps VISTA resources:
Rural Community Development
Additionally, priority will be given to projects that serve areas of concentrated poverty. This is defined as Census tracts or counties with 20 percent or higher poverty rates. These can be rural or urban areas and the projects can be located in or serve the high-poverty areas. Further consideration should be given to persistent poverty areas – those that have had a poverty level of 20 percent or higher for 30 years or more. Given the generational nature of poverty, every effort should be made to target AmeriCorps VISTA resources to these areas. To assist in targeting these areas, USDA has developed a concentrated poverty mapping tool (http://rdgdwe.sc.egov.usda.gov/rdpoverty/index.html) that provides a way to identify them easily.
Amount: VISTA members are full-time and serve 365 days for one year of service. CNCS pays a modest living allowance directly to the member (please see below for current amounts), provides health coverage, and post-service cash award (approximately $1,500) or Segal AmeriCorps Educational Award of $5,810. The project or site where the member serves pays for any service related travel, office space and expenses, such as phone, internet and computer use. Projects are expected to have adequate facilities for members to fully perform their service and duties available upon their start of service.
VISTA member living allowance amount for all New Mexico counties:
- Average monthly allowance: $1,026
- Yearly allowance: $12,312
Projects may be continued for up to three years; however, projects are considered for renewal on a year-to-year basis, depending on the availability of resources, program performance, and the priorities of CNCS. After successful completion of one year of managing an awarded VISTA project, the New Mexico State Office will consider requests for up to $20,000 to support supervision and transportation expenses related to managing the VISTA members for projects that mobilize more than ten members.
Eligibility: Public organizations such as state and local government organizations, Indian Tribes, and nonprofit private organizations may apply to be VISTA sponsors. Please note that eligible nonprofit private organizations are not limited to those with IRS 501(c) (3) status, but rather all organizations with IRS 501(c) status that focus on anti-poverty community development. Organizations may be local, state, or national. Sponsors must be able to direct the project, recruit and supervise the VISTA members, and provide necessary administrative support to complete the goals of the project. Organizations that have previously sponsored VISTA projects for more than 3 years may apply only with a new project and program emphasis and must demonstrate a prior successful record in project management and achieving results.
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