Meet Our 2018-19 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.

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.

Central MN Jobs and Training Services

Central MN Jobs & Training Services

Monticello

With unemployment rates reaching record lows, it has become more important than ever before to engage every possible person in the workforce to fill business needs and keep communities strong. However, the remaining unemployed, who want to work, tend to have more challenges and barriers to employment and have not previously been aware of or connected to employment services. CMJTS seeks to engage these people with our services in order to connect them with resources, training, and employment with sustainable wages to help break the cycle of poverty.
The goal of the CMJTS VISTA project for 2018 is to help move families out of poverty by increasing their awareness of education and employment resources, especially for at-risk youth and people with disabilities.
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.

St. Cloud Conflict Resolution Center

St. Cloud

CRC services are based on a core belief that individuals of all ages and backgrounds are capable of resolving their own disputes – effectively, inexpensively, and peacefully – with assistance from trained volunteer mediators. CRC provides communities with the tools to peacefully and effectively resolve disputes.

CRC’s intended VISTA project is to develop and to put in place an effective and sustainable program to recruit, train, mentor and manage new and current volunteer mediators from a variety of social, economic and cultural backgrounds to reflect the St Cloud community. These volunteers will primarily be focused on working with youth in District 742 that have been identified as having high conflict behaviors which puts their academic success at risk.
Wright County Community Action

Wright County Community Action

Maple Lake

WCCA’s mission is to work in partnership with the community to empower residents to improve their physical, social and economic well-being.

The long-term goals of this project will be to have the ability to identify, develop and leverage supportive resources and services to meet the necessities of low-income, aging and at-risk families/individuals throughout the WCCA service area. We wish to develop efficient services for our aging population and deliver resources that will improve their quality of life and prolong their capability of living at home.