CMSE VISTA partnership with the North Mississippi VISTA Program
What is AmeriCorps VISTA?
The AmeriCorps VISTA program was created as a part of the Corporation for National and Community Service in 1965. The program partners with a variety of nonprofit organizations to help address the issue of poverty in the United States. Over 220,000 Americorps VISTA members have served in all 50 states and U.S. territories to help build capacity for programs fighting poverty in their local communities. Because poverty in our nation takes many forms, AmeriCorps VISTA responsibilities and VISTA Assignment Descriptions (VADs) vary by site. The organizations partnered with AmeriCorps work towards ending veteran homelessness to bettering education opportunities for underserved students and everything in between.
“AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) members bring their passion and perseverance where the need is greatest: to organizations that help eradicate poverty. The most pressing challenges we face as a nation require the most courageous and creative people to address them. An AmeriCorps VISTA member serves as a catalyst for change, living and working alongside community members to advance local solutions.”
Becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA is a one-year term of service equal to a full time job. AmeriCorps VISTA members receive benefits including:
- A bi-weekly living allowance to cover basic expenses
- Professional Development training throughout the year
- Non-Competitive Eligibility for the federal hiring process
- A Segal Education Award or end of year stipend
For more information about AmeriCorps VISTA, please visit: https://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/americorpsvista
The North Mississippi VISTA Project
The North Mississippi VISTA Project, lead by the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, supports over a dozen AmeriCorps VISTA sites across North Mississippi. The sites include the University of Mississippi Museum, Good Food for Oxford Schools, United Way, and Yoknapatawpha Arts Council. The North Mississippi VISTA Project also hosts two VISTA Leaders who help to collect reports, oversee Pre-Service Orientations, and offer professional development and resources to VISTA members. The North Mississippi VISTA Project creates an inclusive and supportive community of members working together to achieve a common goal.
“The North Mississippi VISTA Project works to build sustainable systems that connect the University of Mississippi and its resources to low-income communities throughout a 23-county area. Whenever possible, we develop projects in communities with underperforming schools and/or schools eligible for Title I School Improvement Grants. Our VISTA service members build capacity by developing new, meaningful, and sustainable connections between our university, with its abundant resources, and the schools, education agencies, and community organizations already working to move the people of our region toward academic success and higher education.”
For more information on the North Mississippi VISTA project, please visit: http://vista.olemiss.edu/
To apply for the North Mississippi VISTA Project, please visit: https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?id=41879
University of Mississippi CMSE
One of the host sites within the North Mississippi VISTA Project is the University of Mississippi CMSE (Center for Mathematics and Science Education). The CMSE works to improve K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education throughout the state through afterschool programs, competitions, and teacher professional development and support.
“The Center for Mathematics and Science Education (CMSE) is located at the University of Mississippi. CMSE seeks to improve the quality of mathematics and science education in Mississippi by promoting interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. To achieve this mission, CMSE works closely with students, current teachers and administrators, and those involved in preparing teachers for the future.”
The AmeriCorps VISTA position at the CMSE focuses on fighting poverty through education by supporting K-12 grade enrichment programs. The 2016-2017 VISTA Assignment Description (VAD) for the CMSE focused on building collecting data, recruiting volunteers, and building capacity for three of the center’s K-12 STEM experiences.
The Mississippi FIRST Tech Challenge
The Mississippi FIRST Tech Challenge is a competitive robotics program offered through the organization FIRST Robotics. Teams of up to ten middle and high school students design, build, and program robots to compete on alliances in a sport style competition. A new game is released every year to provide a fresh challenge to the students.
STARLab Portable Planetarium
The STARLab Portable Planetarium is a classroom enrichment program offered through the CMSE. Planetarium show facilitators travel every few weeks during the school year to bring a fun field trip experience to schools around the state. This program allows teachers to bring an engaging space themed learning experience to their schools.
Mississippi Achievement Through Chess
The MATCH (Mississippi Achievement Through Chess) program aims to promote scholastic and collegiate chess programs in the state of Mississippi, with a focus on academic and life skill development.