In 1963, President John F. Kennedy envisioned a national service corps “to help provide urgently needed services in urban and rural poverty areas.” In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson realized Kennedy's dream by launching the “War on Poverty.” Johnson welcomed the first group of 20 VISTA volunteers saying, “Your pay will be low; the conditions of your labor often will be difficult. But you will have the satisfaction of leading a great national effort and you will have the ultimate reward which comes to those who serve their fellow man.”
VISTA became AmeriCorps*VISTA in 1993, when the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) was created to centralize all national service programs. Along with VISTA, CNCS oversees Senior Corps and the Social Innovation Fund, among other programs. AmeriCorps engages 80,000 members annually. CSU STEM VISTA is an AmeriCorps*VISTA program.
VISTA members live and serve in some of our nation’s poorest urban and rural areas. With passion, commitment, and hard work, they create or expand programs designed to bring individuals and communities out of poverty. About 6,500 VISTA members are placed each year in more than 1,200 projects in low-income communities around the country.
Each VISTA member makes a yearlong, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency. In return for their service, VISTA members receive many benefits.