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AmeriCorps VISTA Grant to Help Bring Program to North Country

SUNY Plattsburgh, through North Country Thrive, has received a one-year AmeriCorps VISTA grant to help bring the program to the region.

North Country Thrive, a cradle-to-career initiative aimed at supporting the community and improving outcomes in education, will act as lead agency for the grant, which will help bring AmeriCorp VISTA volunteers to campus and other entities named in the grant. They include Literacy Volunteers of Clinton County, United Way of the Adirondack Region Inc., City of Plattsburgh’s Office of Community Development, Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton and Franklin counties, and Adirondack P-TECH at Peru Central School. 

The anti-poverty organization, Volunteers in Service to America, was created with President Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. A domestic version of the Peace Corps, the first group of 24 volunteers began their service in December 1964, serving in cities, rural areas and on Native American reservations across the country. The first VISTA anti-poverty initiatives included remedial education programs, youth counseling, housing programs, sanitation and hygiene programs, food distribution, migrant work services, establishing community service centers, and farmer assistance programs.

Needs of Low-income Communities

AmeriCorps is an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service created under President Bill Clinton by the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993. It incorporated VISTA and the National Civilian Community Corps.

The SUNY Plattsburgh AmeriCorps VISTA project aims to address the needs of local rural, low-income communities, helping to develop long-term sustainable solutions to alleviate poverty by improving the quality and increasing the size of regional service programs, schools, and other non-profits in the North Country. The grant is one-year renewable funding based on the success of partnering projects.

North Country VISTA is recruiting for 12 members to serve a full year within the project. Members receive a living allowance “that enables you to live very frugally, like the community you are serving,” according to the AmeriCorps VISTA website. The allowance is based on poverty rates for the region and is paid biweekly. It covers basic necessities — housing, food and utilities.

Community Support Needed

In addition, North Country VISTA is also looking for community support.

Brittany Trybendis, director of North Country Thrive and North Country VISTA at SUNY Plattsburgh, said the project is also in need of community support.

“The grant only provides funding for the VISTA members,” she said. “As such, we will need community support to help us enable our future VISTA members to participate in various regional activities.” She is asking for donations of activity tickets, gift cards, funding or volunteer hours. “We hope to encourage our VISTAs not only to remain in the region, but to learn about all that our region has to offer. I would like our VISTAS to experience it all.”

For more information or to apply for North Country VISTA, contact Trybendis at 518-564-2128 or email [email protected]

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