Host Site FAQs: VISTA Summer Associate Program

What are the priority focus areas for Housing Action Illinois’ VISTA Summer Associate Program?
How many VISTA Summer Associates can my organization host?
What is the difference between the VISTA Summer Associate Program and the regular VISTA program?
What is the selection criteria for VISTA Summer Associate host sites?
My organization currently hosts a full-year VISTA member. Can we host a VISTA Summer Associate too?
What is the timeline for the application process?
How does my organization benefit from participating as a VISTA Project Host Site? How can I best utilize my VISTA Summer Associate?
What benefits does the AmeriCorps VISTA program offer its members?
Will I get guidance throughout the summer about the VISTA program?
What costs do Project Host Sites need to cover?
Can our VISTA Summer Associate have a part-time job?
What activities are inappropriate for a VISTA Summer Associate to do?

If you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our VISTA Leaders at (312­) 939-6074 ext. 107 or vista@housingactionil.org. Wondering what other host sites’ experiences have been like? Check out our host site testimonials. You can also learn more about this program at our general VISTA Summer Associate page.

What are the priority focus areas for Housing Action Illinois’ VISTA Summer Associate Program

  • Economic Opportunities (Asset Development, Financial Literacy, Community Economic Development, Housing and Employment)
  • Hunger
  • Youth Summer Educational Programming

How many VISTA Summer Associates can my organization host?

You may apply for 1 – 6 VISTA Summer Associate(s).  Housing Action will give preference to organizations that can host multiple VISTAs.  We encourage you to apply for as many VISTA members as your organization has the capacity to support and supervise. However, placement of each VISTA position will be determined individually, so you may be awarded all, none or some of the VISTA members you apply for.

What is the difference between the VISTA Summer Associate Program and the regular VISTA program?

Housing Action Illinois coordinates two AmeriCorps VISTA programs.  Our full-year VISTAs serve at our member organizations for a 12-month period of service and are not allowed to engage in direct service.

VISTA Summer Associates serve member organizations of Housing Action Illinois for 10 weeks during the summer.  They are allowed to engage in direct service.  Assignments may involve academic tutoring; building a home; recruiting and training community volunteers; teaching job skills; establishing partnerships with local businesses, organizations, churches, and schools; planning community meetings; or handling public relations. Here are some project examples from previous Summer Associate host sites: Hesed House & DuPage Habitat for Humanity.

In exchange for their service, VISTAs in both programs receive a modest living allowance and have the option to choose an end of service stipend or Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.

What is the selection criteria for VISTA Summer Associate host sites

  • Quality of the VISTA project, including the following:
  • Capacity of the organization to be a host site
  • All current Housing Action Illinois member organizations are invited to apply. We give preference to current Housing Action Illinois VISTA host sites who are up to date with their membership dues and have been strong, responsive VISTA partners in the past

My organization currently hosts a full-year VISTA member. Can we host a VISTA Summer Associate too?

Yes. Your organization can host a VISTA Summer Associate to complement the same project your full-year VISTA is working on or to focus on a different project entirely.

What is the timeline for the application process?

March 5, 2018: Deadline for host site applications
March 19, 2018: Award announcements
April 3, 2018: Executed agreements due (MOUs, Payment, Final VISTA Assignment Description, etc.)
April – May, 2018: Recruitment and interviews
Early June: VISTA Pre-Service Orientation (exact date TBD)
Early June: VISTA starts service at host site (exact date TBD)
Mid-August: VISTA finishes service at host site (exact date TBD)

How does my organization benefit from participating as a VISTA Project Host Site? How can I best utilize my VISTA Summer Associate?

Your organization receives the opportunity to recruit a VISTA Summer Associate(s) to work with you to build capacity in your organization and help communities to alleviate issues related to poverty. A VISTA Summer Associate should be used to enable your organization to address a need(s) within the community that would otherwise not be accomplished due to lack of time, resources, energy or experienced staff. Once the need has been identified, the host site can structure the VISTA’s Assignment Description to best build the capacity of a program or initiative that will continue to address the need after the VISTA Summer Associate’s term has ended.

What benefits does the AmeriCorps VISTA program offer its members?

AmeriCorps VISTA members receive a living allowance from the federal government of approximately $944 – 1,084/month and a post service education award of $1,252.91 or a cash stipend of $345 upon completion of a term of service.

Will I get guidance throughout the summer about the VISTA program?

Yes, Housing Action Illinois will provide the following:

  • Assistance with recruitment and selection of VISTA Summer Associates
  • Pre-Service Orientation (PSO) for VISTA Summer Associates and a training on supervision for host site supervisors
  • Reports and check-ins conducted by VISTA Leaders and Housing Action Illinois staff

What costs do Project Host Sites need to cover?

  • Travel reimbursement to VISTA for any project-related travel
  • Reimbursement of Chicago Transit Authority/Metra pass if Project Host Site is located in Chicago Metro region and collar counties
  • In-Kind office requirements: office space, desk, computer, phone line, email, etc.
  • There are other in‐kind donations such as housing or housing assistance, opportunities for professional development, etc. These items are not required, but are encouraged as they drastically increase the number and quality of VISTA applicants.
  • Project Participation Fee to Housing Action Illinois; $750 per VISTA Summer Associate during the summer of 2018. The Project Participation Fee helps offset administrative expenses for the project.

Can our VISTA Summer Associate have a part-time job?

Yes, but all outside employment must be approved by CNCS and must not conflict with VISTA assignment.

What activities are inappropriate for a VISTA Summer Associate to do?

A VISTA Summer Associate cannot:

  • Be involved with political advocacy, religious instruction, voter registration, union organizing, or lobbying while serving or identifying as a VISTA member
  • Receive monetary contribution from host organization to supplement their stipend
  • Enroll in credit‐bearing courses during their term without approval from CNCS
  • Displace the work, or what should be the work, of paid employees of the host organization, particularly tasks typically reserved for administrative and/or clerical positions. VISTA Summer Associates are to engage in project‐based work. Note: The VISTA member is not an administrative assistant.