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AmeriCorps VISTA Frequently Asked Questions

Current as of September, 2021
Back to OHA AmeriCorps VISTA recruitment home page

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What is AmeriCorps VISTA?

AmeriCorps VISTA is the national service program designed specifically to fight poverty. Founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965 and incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993, VISTA has been on the front lines in the fight against poverty in America for more than 50 years. AmeriCorps VISTA members build capacity and do not provide direct services. This most often occurs in a professional office environment. The program is available to all, without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity or expression, political affiliation, marital or parental status, genetic information and miliary service. More information can be found on the nationalservice.gov website. 

What are the benefits of AmeriCorps VISTA?

  • A $6,345 Segal AmeriCorps Education Award or $1,800 post-service stipend, upon completing your service.
  • Modest living allowance: Members will receive $13,399-$16,717 (varies by county) for the year paid every two weeks. This amount is federally taxed and reflects the pre-tax amount. Living allowance rates by county can be found on the AmeriCorps VISTA Campus website
  • Healthcare benefit options while in service, choose between reimbursement for healthcare or a healthcare plan. Dental and vision are also included. (please visit americorpsvista.imglobal.com for more info).
  • Child care assistance while in service.
  • Student loan forbearance or deferment while in service for qualified federal loans.
  • One year of non-competitive eligibility (NCE) status for a federal government job, giving you an edge in the federal hiring process
  • Access to the network of AmeriCorps & AmeriCorps Alumni (220,000 strong).
  • Valuable professional development training (pre-service and in-service training from AmeriCorps, state training and on-site training).
  • Settling-in allowance of up to $750 for those relocating over 50 miles for a service placement. A member will also receive an additional relocation allowance, based on direct mileage between his/her home of record and site. This translates into 40 cents per travel mile. 
  • In our program, mileage reimbursement for trips may also be available. Some sites are able to provide transit passes and other benefits.
  • More information about the benefits of service on the national AmeriCorps VISTA website, called the VISTA Campus.  
  • The AmeriCorps VISTA Leaders program is open to members who have served at least one year as an AmeriCorps VISTA or Peace Corps. Leaders work to expand and build capacity of individual AmeriCorps VISTA memers, guiding at least six members through their year of service. Leaders' living allowance is $19,115 for the year, paid every two weeks.
  • AmeriCorps VISTA Leaders have successfully completed at least one year of AmeriCorps VISTA service, one full term of full-time service (serving 1,770 hours or more) with either AmeriCorps State and National or AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), or at least 50% of one traditional term of Peace Corps service. Leaders must also demonstrate exemplary skills and leadership in community service. Leaders have demonstrated leadership ability to work constructively with community volunteers, supervisors, sponsoring organizations, and the low-income community.

What are the benefits of joining the Oregon Health Authority AmeriCorps VISTA team?

The Oregon Health Authority, which is the state health department, manages the project to ensure the highest quality placements.  We recruit and screen the host sites and supervisors, support members during the entire onboarding process, orient your future supervisor to their duties, provide an overhead team of staff and AmeriCorps VISTA Leaders to support you during your year of AmeriCorps service. We sponsor a four-day kick off orientation for each team, and hold at least four other team meetings during the year. 

Many placements are stand alone positions, but our positions are integrated as a team to provide camaraderie, professional and personal support, and ensure a high quality and productive year of service for you and the community you serve.

What if I have questions about the program or application process?

Questions about the application process? Curious about the day-to-day work of our members? Need clarification about the benefits of serving with AmeriCorps? During recruitment we will hold virtual Recruitment Office Hours to find out more about the OHA AmeriCorps VISTA AmeriCorps Partnership Project! 

This is an informal setting where you can chat with the OHA AmeriCorps VISTA leadership team and ask questions about our AmeriCorps program and the application process. There is no need to register in advance—just click on the link above and stay for as long or short a time as you wish. 

How do I apply?

Create a profile on my.americorps.gov and and submit the online AmeriCorps application, which can be found at https://my.americorps.gov/mp/login.do under the "Apply to Serve" section. AmeriCorps also has an interactive application guide that can be found at https://www.vistacampus.gov/sites/vistacampus/files/how_to_apply/index.html

We recruit members twice per year. We recruit for positions that start in mid-April from January through March. We recruit for positions that start in mid-August from May through July. Please apply early, as applications are accepted and decisions are made on a rolling basis. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions related to applying:

  • AmeriCorps VISTA Eligibility Requirements
    • Be at least 18 years old upon entering AmeriCorps training; there is no upper age limit
    • Hold one of the following citizenship/legal residency statuses: US citizen, US National, Lawful Permanent Resident Alien, and persons legally residing in a state that have any of the following legal residency classifications: refugee, asylum or asylee, temporary protected status, or deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) status.
    • Pass a national service criminal history check 
  • Can I become an AmeriCorps VISTA with OHA if I don't have a college degree?
    • Yes! We recognize that higher education is a privilege. If you don't have a degree and want to serve with us, you can substitute relevant work experience for education on a year-for-year basis or by using a combination of both.

Should I apply to multiple positions in the Oregon Health Authority team?

Yes, definitely, if you are flexible about where you live and serve as an AmeriCorps member. Each position is handled separately by the supervisor and interview panel for that position and host site. It does not weaken your standing in their eyes to apply to multiple positions. Only the Oregon Health Authority team sees your multiple applications and we encourage it in order to ensure the strongest candidates find just the right match among all the host sites we are recruiting for.

What happens after I submit my application?

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. You should expect to hear from a representative from the Oregon Health Authority within two weeks to schedule an informal call to have a conversation about the expectations that come with a year of service and answer any questions you may have. Please be timely with your responses to our team and be sure to monitor your junk/spam folders. After the initial pre-screen, you may be moved to the formal interview process if the host site feels your application is a fit. The last step is formally selecting the candidate as the finalist in the AmeriCorps system and waiting for federal approval. No candidate is officially approved and placed for service as the finalist until they've received federal approval. 

Once a finalist is selected and approved, the OHA AmeriCorps VISTA Leadership team will begin onboarding members by sharing important materials and information. 

Do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to check on the status of your application!

Where do Oregon Health Authority AmeriCorps VISTA members serve?

Our members serve at sites throughout the state of Oregon, in both rural and urban communities. See a map of our current OHA AmeriCorps VISTA members with their locations, projects and contact information.

How long is my AmeriCorps VISTA service?

AmeriCorps VISTA members are placed at a site for one year (12 months). Members attend a series of mandatory online pre-service webinars with AmeriCorps and an online orientation with the Oregon Health Authority. 

Upon successful completion of a year of service, members generally can apply for an additional year of service (reenroll) subject to available placements. Not all reenrollments are approved, however if you are granted a reenrollment, keep in mind you may only earn two Eli Segal Education Award vouchers, including any time served in any AmeriCorps program. Members are welcome to serve additional years with AmeriCorps, but will only have the choice of the $1,800 stipend upon completion of service.

AmeriCorps VISTA members are strongly encouraged to complete their full year of service so they can receive a Segal Education Award. If a member departs service early, they usually have to sacrifice their education award unless it is a compelling personal reason (see VISTA Member Handbook for more info). Admission to graduate school or accepting a job offer are not compelling reasons. 

Are the start dates flexible?

No, the start and end dates are set and members must be able to make required orientations and start dates at their host sites, so you will be expected to start at your site on that day. Our members start twice per year, in mid-April and mid-August. There are no other times that our members start service.

What will my schedule be?

AmeriCorps members serve their nation 24/7 and are expected to be available for service whenever needed. Most of our host sites follow the "standard" Monday through Friday schedule with working hours between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, though this will vary by site. 

OHA AmeriCorps members follow the State of Oregon holiday schedule and are required to serve at an Martin Luther King Jr. Day service project and will be required to attend (in person or virtual) group training events throughout the year. 

AmeriCorps members serving in the VISTA program are allotted 10 personal days and 10 sick days during their service year. Generally, leave in the first 3 months of service or last month are limited to emergencies and family matters. More on AmeriCorps VISTA leave benefits can be found on the VISTA Campus.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most OHA members are serving remotely from home. Members are not rquired to relocate to servce prior to their start date unless it's safe to do so. The decision to relocate and serve on-site will be determined by the member in partnership with OHA and their host organization. More informaion on COVID-19 and AmeriCorps service can be found on the AmeriCorps website.

Can I get a part-time job on the side?

As of May 3, 2015, AmeriCorps VISTA members are allowed to have outside employment. The outside employment must be approved by their supervisor, be legal, and not interfere with regular service work hours or other AmeriCorps VISTA events and trainings.

What kinds of training opportunities are available to me as an Oregon AmeriCorps VISTA?

During the AmeriCorps Virtual Member Orientation (VMO), AmeriCorps members will learn about diverse topics like: the history of the VISTA program, poverty concepts, understanding your placement, organizational culture, rights and responsibilities, and capacity building. The Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division (the sponsoring agency for Oregon’s statewide public health AmeriCorps VISTA program), then provides members an additional orientation and training during the first month of service. This orientation covers public health, the team, life in Oregon, and critical professional development skills. In addition, various training opportunities will be provided throughout the year of service, including all-team retreats in different parts of the state, team attendance at state conferences, and individual participation in training requested by the member or their supervisor. These training opportunities will include a variety of topics, such as public health science, leadership, tools of strategic planning, grant writing, creative communication, volunteer management, alternative fundraising, and living on an AmeriCorps budget.

Facts about the Oregon Health Authority AmeriCorps VISTA Partnership Project

  • In Oregon, there are 36 counties with 34 Local Health Departments, and 9 Oregon Tribes.
  • AmeriCorps is a voluntary civil society program supported by the U.S. federal government that operates nationwide service programs, such as AmeriCorps VISTA and Senior Corps. 
  • In 2009, the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division (OHA-PHD) applied to AmeriCorps to become a Sponsoring Agency to develop a partnership project between the Medical Reserve Corps and the AmeriCorps VISTA programs. Since then, OHA has expanded its AmeriCorps VISTA Partnership Project to include health department accreditation, chronic disease prevention, environmental health, oral health, disaster healthcare volunteer management, healthcare reform, health equity, and many other projects targeting specific public health issues that impact people living in poverty.
  • The OHA AmeriCorps VISTA Partnership Project continues to be the largest AmeriCorps VISTA project in the state of Oregon.
  • Local Public Health Authoritys (LPHAs), Tribes, state and federal agencies, non-profits and other organizations apply to the state Public Health Division to be selected as a host site for an AmeriCorps member. During this process we vet each site to ensure they have dedicated and enthusiastic supervisors, clear vision for the project, and the resources needed to fully support the AmeriCorps member's projects and year of service.
  • Agreements are drafted and signed between Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division and AmeriCorps, as well as between the Public Health Division and each host site.
  • The state Public Health Division has developed a training and orientation program for all AmeriCorps VISTAs. Site supervision and on-site training will happen throughout the year of service.
  • A service year is one year, full-time. For example, those AmeriCorps VISTA members who are sworn into service beginning August 17, 2020 will complete their year on August 16, 2021.

Back to OHA AmeriCorps VISTA recruitment home page.



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