AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), inspired by the international U.S. Peace Corps, was founded in 1965 and was established as part of the Economic Opportunity Act. 

With deep roots in civil rights history, the program recruits and supports volunteers who commit to serve in the fight against poverty by strengthening capacities for community nonprofits, social services, and government agencies.

Jointly sponsored by the University of the South and South Cumberland Community Fund (SCCF) and operating for nine years out of the University’s Office of Civic Engagement, the goal of the South Cumberland Plateau AmeriCorps VISTA Project (SCP-VISTA) was to support efforts to combat poverty in the counties of Grundy, Franklin, and Marion which surround and overlap the University of the South’s campus.

The efforts of this program focused heavily on building capacity for education, economic opportunity, and health-related initiatives - three community-identified priorities developed through a series of SCCF listening sessions. Full-year VISTA service projects were developed alongside partners using an asset-based community development model, and were designed to move towards a wide range of outcomes along these lines — hunger relief efforts, opioid prevention and recovery, childhood wellness via trauma-informed care, K-12 education, community garden development, art-based recidivism reduction efforts, and much more. 

VISTA members enter into service with the understanding that they are engaging in projects that are built to be long-term. Though the solutions they work towards may help to alleviate an immediate need, VISTA is largely about strengthening capacities of communities and the people within them - an individual service member may never bear witness to the fruits of their labor. Over the years, the efforts of South Cumberland Plateau VISTAs have taken root and their projects have grown beyond their service term: strengthening the operating capacities of agencies in which VISTAs served, giving rise to new, local nonprofits that now provide services where there was once a gap, and amplifying the voices of residents through research, listening, and feedback processes.

SCP-VISTA Service Projects

Here is an overview of SCP-VISTA Service Projects.

VISTA Member Testimonials

Read what our VISTA members have to say about their experience.

SCP VISTA Summer Associate Program

For more information on our summer associate program.