This AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer position requires a self-directed, deadline-oriented individual who has exceptional interpersonal skills and is able to build relationships with volunteers and organizations in their host site community. The full time position serves in the community for twelve (12) months.
This position will recruit, train, and manage student volunteers; conduct site visits with community partner organizations; conduct program evaluations and analyze results; coordinate service projects on and off campus; collect performance measure data; submit monthly and quarterly reports on service activities to Iowa Campus Compact; and participate in a program orientation.
Community Need Addressed
Our AmeriCorps VISTA positions address needs related to either economic opportunity or education. Below is some specific information on each community need.
ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY: Financial Literacy, Employment, and Housing
1) Financial Literacy: Improving access to services and benefits designed to lead to enhanced financial literacy for both adults and young students
Individuals who want to be successful in today’s economy must be financially literate. The 2015 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey found that 60% of US adults do not have a budget to track personal expenses. 34% of the individuals surveyed self-reported that they have no savings other than retirement. Further, 24% are not paying all of their bills on time (Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, 2015). Having a budget, personal savings, and paying bills on time are essential skills in today’s economy. IACC VISTAs will support the capacity of financial literacy programs for adults and children in poverty in order to help them learn how to be more financially stable.
2) Employment: Improving or creating job skills training programs that lead to increased employment, including vocational education
In order to have economic opportunity, Iowans must be prepared for employment. The unemployment rate in the greater Des Moines area in 2010 was 14 percent. Of the unemployed, 61.7 percent had become unemployed within the last year and 65.8 percent had some post-high school education (Des Moines Regional Executive Summary 2010, Iowa Workforce). In 2012, Cedar Rapids showed an unemployment rate of 7.2 percent, where 78.6 percent had education beyond high school (Cedar Rapids Executive Summary 2012, Iowa Workforce). Dubuque recorded having a 7.7 percent unemployment rate, where 66.7 percent had some post-secondary education (Dubuque Executive Summary 2012, Iowa Workforce). IACC VISTAs will support that capacity of programs that help place individuals in jobs and/or help them to build job skills.
3) Housing: Transitioning individuals into or helping them remain in safe, healthy, affordable housing, with a special focus on veterans.
Americans are using more of their income to pay for basic necessities, like housing. Between 1991 and 2013, the percentage of renter households who used less than 30 percent of their income toward housing costs fell from 54 percent to 43 percent. During that same time, the percentage of renter households paying at least half of their income to housing costs rose from 21 percent to 30 percent (Desmond, 2015).
Poor renters have few options for support. In 2013, 1 percent of poor renters lived in rent-controlled units; 15 percent lived in public housing; and 17 percent received a government subsidy, mainly in the form of a rent-reducing voucher. The remaining 67 percent received nothing (Desmond, 2015). IACC VISTAs will support programs that increase the availability of affordable housing and help those in need gain access to it.
EDUCATION: K-12 Success
1) K-12 success in student educational and behavioral outcomes in low-achieving schools
Impoverished communities are impoverished for a reason, there are little to no material resources, high rates of unemployment, and overall stressful living conditions (Wilton, 2003). Students living in impoverished communities suffer from the same things that affect their parents (Buck & Deutsch, 2014). This effect can be found in children who experienced one year of poverty had more behavioral problems than children who had lived in long-term poverty (Korenman, Miller, and Sjaastad, 1995).
Living in poverty prevents students from achieving K-12 success. Smith, Brooks-Gunn, and Klebanov (1997) compared children in families with incomes less than half of the poverty threshold to children in families with incomes between 1.5 and twice the poverty threshold. The poorer children scored between 6 and 13 points lower on various standardized tests (IQ, verbal ability, and achievement). A 6- to 13-point difference can result in being placed in a special education class or not (Brooks-Gunn & Duncan, 1997). IACC VISTAs will support the capacity of education programs that support low-income children.
Detailed information on outcomes can be found on each specific AmeriCorps VISTA position. Below are a few example of outputs and outcomes that this position has and will contribute toward.
Number of economically disadvantaged individuals placed in jobs: 12
Number of individuals successfully placed in Housing: 8
Individuals with improved financial knowledge: 301
Number of econ disadv individuals receiving financial literacy services: 904
Number of econ disadv individuals receiving job training or other skill development services: 451
Number of econ. disadvantaged ind. receiving housing related assistance to improve their housing situation: 1444
Number of students entering post-secondary institutions: 41
Number of students earning a post-secondary degree: 1645
Number of students in mentoring/tutoring programs with improved academics: 182
Number of students that start and/or complete participation in a K-12 education program: 4619
Number of youth/mentor matches sustained: 735
Number of students with improved academic performance in literacy and/or math: 247
Childcare assistance if eligible, Education award upon successful completion of service, Health coverage, Housing, Living allowance, Non-competitive eligibility (federal jobs), Relocation allowance (if applicable), Student loan forbearance, Training
1) A living stipend paid out bi-monthly from the Corporation for National and Community Service totaling $12,277 over 12 calendar months.
2) Health care benefit through the Corporation for National and Community Service
3) Professional development and networking opportunities
4) Upon successful completion of the full term of service, the Member will receive an education award of $5,920 or $1,800 post-service stipend, from the National Service Trust.
5) If the Member has received forbearance on a qualified student loan during the term of service, and the Member successfully completes the term of service, the National Service Trust will repay a portion of the interest that accrued on the loan during the term of service according to hours served.
6) Child-care benefits are contingent on having a child under 13, meeting an income threshold, needing child-care assistance to complete the AmeriCorps term of service, and having a financial need to pay necessary child-care expenses. More information can be found at http://www.americorpschildcare.com/
7) One-year noncompetitive status for a federal government job.
Skills you will gain
Project management, budgeting, documenting matching sources of funds, facilitation, leading reflection, creating student learning outcomes
Competencies You Will Develop
Lead group discussion
Creativity & Problem Solving
Able to identify and define the problem, Capable of generating possible solutions
Establish a high degree of trust and credibility with others, Interact professionally and respectfully with supervisors and co-workers, Stay positive and outcome oriented
Identify and prioritize the key issues involved to facilitate the decision making process, Quickly respond with a back-up plan if a decision goes amiss
Able to prioritize various competing tasks, Demonstrate the effective allocation of time and resources efficiently, Facilitate group planning, Set goals
Be pleasant, courteous, professional and respectful when dealing with internal and external customers or clients, Honor the privilege of being able to work with and for those being served, Understand and anticipate the needs of others