This week, Dave Celata, our Deputy Director of Milwaukee Succeeds, is sharing highlights from a trip to Dallas to attend VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) Supervisor Training. He will share with us what Milwaukee can expect from these projects.
But first, let me share a little information about the VISTA program. Did you know that President Kennedy introduced the idea of VISTA to Congress in 1963? Many of the best-known anti-poverty programs, including Head Start and Credit Unions, were expanded by VISTA members. VISTA has been on the forefront of ending poverty in America for over 50 years. VISTA was founded in 1965 as a national service program to fight poverty in America and in 1993 was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs. AmeriCorps VISTA taps the skills, talents and passion of more than 7,000 Americans annually to support community efforts to overcome poverty. Talk about strength in numbers... Take it away Dave.
See you soon, Danae
I love that this post is happening during baseball’s opening week. The old phrase “hope springs eternal” will be cited within baseball circles repeatedly over the coming days. Baseball means summer. Warmer, brighter days lie ahead of us—even those that don’t get to Miller Park too often.
I felt that same degree of optimism while attending VISTA Supervisor Training in Dallas last month. For me, it was a unique experience: my first job out of college was as a VISTA in Baltimore. In many ways I felt like I was home again. Our Supervisor Training was held concurrent with Pre-Service Orientation for incoming VISTAs. This gave me an opportunity to meet Supervisors and VISTAs from all over the country and hear about some amazing work. One theme persisted throughout these conversations: the opportunities VISTAs create to accelerate our work.
VISTAs don’t perform direct service; they don’t tutor children, cleanup parks, or build houses. Instead, their focus is on building the capacity of organizations to address poverty. For Milwaukee Succeeds, capacity building is exactly what we need. We seek meaningful change over a board scope of work. At the end of the day, there is more work to do than there is time to do it. But of course it’s not enough to say, “We’ll get to it tomorrow.” There are real children out there at this very moment that need us to act. The five VISTAs coming to Milwaukee Succeeds aren’t going to fix everything. But they will advance our work by addressing some critical issues:
- Ensuring our work and decisions are inclusive of the entire community.
- Creating strategies to address the needs of older youth.
- Scaling our early literacy work.
- Improving our use of data to guide effective decision making.
- Increasing our community’s capacity to address Social & Emotional Learning (SEL).
This work can be exhausting. But there are moments when we’re reminded that hope does in fact spring eternal. Developing these VISTA projects is one of those moments. I can’t wait to see the great work these VISTAs will do.