Meet Our 2017-18 AmeriCorps VISTA Host Sites

Brainerd Public Library

Brainerd Public Library

Brainerd

The Brainerd Public Library’s fundamental mission as branch of the Kitchigami Regional Library System is to connect people to knowledge and education; to be a space where the right conditions lead to creative thought and new ideas. The library provides information for all types of learners through information resources, public art displays, computer classes, cultural performances, hands-on workshops, and interactive children’s early literacy areas and they would like to continue to expand the learning opportunities to include 21st Century technology and skills.

Their VISTA project will help connect new technologies and STEM programming through the Innovator Lab to increase academic success for local low-income youth.

Career Solutions

St. Cloud 

Career Solution (formerly known as Stearns-Benton Employment & Training Council) exists to provide comprehensive workforce development, helping community members acquire the skill, training, and experience to achieve economic security while meeting the human resource needs of local business and industry. As a partner in the St. Cloud WorkForce Center, they assist in meeting the workforce needs of employers and job seekers by matching available workers with employer needs, helping workers to develop their skills, and collaborating with employers responding to growing labor shortages. They prepare the future workforce by supporting youth in exploring career pathways, assisting workers who are new to the labor force, who are not maximizing their abilities and are under employed or who have lost their jobs.

Their VISTA project will assess, research, and develop resources to enhance services and assess impact of programs. The goal of their project is to increase the effectiveness of services to Somali clients, including building connections with employers to increase the hiring of immigrant and new American population.

The Center

The Center

Brainerd

The Center’s mission: Encouraging mature adults to engage in healthy living, socialization, life-long learning and community connections. Their vision is E4: ~ Encourage ~ Engage ~ Enrich ~ Education. The core programs are to enrich lives of individuals age 45 and up. The core activities focus on education opportunities, physical activities, awareness of the arts and socialization, partnered with an activity or program. The Center currently offers 50-54 activities/programs a week.

Their VISTA project will research and develop outreach strategies to engage more individuals in programming, specifically low-income mature adults and veterans. In addition, their project will implement fund development strategies to support new activities and events focused on health education and wellness for mature adults.

Initiative Foundation

Initiative Foundation

Little Falls 

The Initiative Foundation mission is to unlock the power of Central Minnesota people to build and sustain thriving communities in its 14-county service area. The Foundation fulfills its mission through a variety of community, organizational and economic development programs as well as through grants and business loans.

The Initiative Foundation serves an economically diverse region with areas of extreme wealth and prosperity which are sometimes adjacent to deep pockets of poverty and economic insecurity. Across Central Minnesota, 12.3 percent of people are living in poverty, putting it above the state average of 11.5 percent.

In addition to serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA sponsoring organization, the Initiative Foundation will host two VISTA projects in 2017-18. The Community and Workforce Development VISTA project will aim to empower individuals in rural, low-income communities across Central Minnesota through innovative community engagement of traditionally under-represented populations. This project will focus on partnering with people of color, individuals under the age of 40, women, and low-income residents.

The Initiative Foundation’s VISTA Leader will use their national service experience to support 11 VISTA members “in the field” to help ensure their success by providing resources, serving as a liaison between VISTAs and the Initiative Foundation, and organizing social and training events. Additionally, the VISTA Leader supports outreach, reporting, evaluating outcomes, and training.

Oasis Central Minnesota

Oasis Central Minnesota

Little Falls

Oasis Central Minnesota’s mission is to provide a platform for Morrison County residents to work together, through Oasis Central Minnesota to assure access to basic necessities for all.  Their mission is to build community and bridge gaps by, being a resource and referral hub; increasing access to quality food; assisting with limited home maintenance to help people safely stay in their own homes; and coordinating relevant education opportunities.

Their VISTA project will focus on the development of a robust volunteer program that engages volunteers to provide critical services to those in the community. Oasis Central Minnesota serves individuals and families facing poverty and crisis by increasing their access to basic necessities.

Promise Neighborhood

Promise Neighborhood

St. Cloud

Promise Neighborhood’s mission is to support Talahi neighborhood families with their economic, education and social aspiration. Their core program is the Family Support Program (FSP). FSP provides emergency services, referrals, training, workshops, mentor, tutors, Math Club for youth and adults, Creative Writing class and experiential work opportunities.

Their VISTA project will improve the conditions of living in poverty by increasing volunteers and donations, improving data systems and increasing profile. All of this will increase organizational and program capacity to provide services for youth and families, leadership development and increased access to leadership and economic opportunity.

Rural Renewable Energy Alliance

Rural Renewable Energy Alliance

Backus

The mission of the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) is to make solar energy accessible to communities of all income levels. RREAL’s flagship program is Solar Assistance which delivers solar energy to low-income households eligible for energy assistance. The Solar Assistance program is supported by RREAL’s Education and Community Outreach (ECO), and REAL Solar Design-Build programs.

Their VISTA project will focus on the further development of a nationally scalable “community solar for low income” model that provides an innovative, renewable method to reduce energy poverty and a means for low income households to access solar energy. The VISTA will analyze the first implementation project on tribal lands in Northern Minnesota, engage additional Minnesota stakeholders, refine the model accordingly, and collaborate with staff in the model dissemination.

Yes Network

The Yes Network

St. Cloud

The Yes Network’s mission is to create vibrant, loving, prosperous neighborhoods through their presence and engagement with kids, families and community members. They do this by responding to neighborhood-identified needs and ensuring that those most affected by a problem are engaged in developing the solutions.

Their VISTA project will implement the I Have A Dream program that will provide early-intervention, year-round support to at least 30 students and their families annually to help students through each phase of their education including post-secondary.