AmeriCorps VISTAs with the Springfield Promise Neighborhood
Springfield Promise Neighborhood has benefitted from a partnership with Think Tank Inc. for VISTA volunteers since 2010: 2 in 2010-11; 3 in 2011 – 12; 4 in 2013 – 14; and 10 in 2014-15.
AmeriCorps VISTA members make the Springfield Promise Neighborhood possible!
Promise VISTAs generate the energy for new and innovative projects.
Promise VISTAs gather resources to put those projects into action.
Promise VISTAs network and form relationships that contribute to lasting change.
Promise VISTAs consider critically the needs AND assets of our neighborhood, and form responses.
Promise VISTAs use their dedication and persistence to see projects through.
School Readiness VISTA members help facilitate a pipeline of opportunities for our youngest students. These include a longer and better attended pre-school “summer bridge” program at Lincoln, helping those pre-K students who participate in summer to be “ready” for kindergarten the following fall. VISTAs work with an advisory team to contact parents and enroll students and they work with area providers to develop a more adaptable and effective literacy-based curriculum for the students. VISTAs also help create supportive learning opportunities and social networks providing parent education and co-learning activities, including a parent-designed “drop-in” center where area parents can watch children play and learn from one another about parenting skills.
Community and Family Engagement
The Parent Engagement VISTA members participate in the following capacity building activities: a) An ongoing listening campaign that continually records, monitors and builds upon the aspirations of residents, students, and teachers serving the neighborhood; b) Continuing in the extension and development of a parent involvement and leadership program in which parents are trained to become community leaders and School Ambassadors supporting the social and academic success of youth; c) Developing with community leaders a plan and program supporting economic development and sustained resources particularly in the area of urban agriculture, nutrition, and food security.
The Youth Development VISTA members further develop and enhance extended learning opportunities for youth in the areas of arts, academic growth, civic engagement and leadership, and physical education. These take the form of Promise clubs in the Lincoln Community Learning Center after-school program. New avenues for competitive sports and participation in the arts are two major focuses of Youth Development VISTAs.
VISTA volunteers work to develop pipelines of volunteer services for the in-school and extended day program including enlisting area youth already in high school to work with elementary age youth. They extend tutoring and mentoring programs to include training in the most effective practices and to include locating mentors for the most vulnerable youth as they make the transition between elementary and middle school. In the extended year program, they work with residents and local providers to provide avenues for productive youth involvement in summer school and other place-based opportunities including designed competitive sport activities.