Could you use the energy and creativity of trained children's literacy volunteers over the summer?
Summer Reads, an AmeriCorps VISTA program, aims to reduce the decline of literacy skills in low-income children entering grades K-4 over the summer months and fight the “summer slide”. AmeriCorps VISTA, often described as "the domestic version of the Peace Corps," is the national service program designed specifically to fight poverty. VISTA members receive training, mileage reimbursement, a modest living allowance and an Education Award (can be used for tuition or qualified federal student loans) in exchange for their service.
Under the mentoring of an on-site supervisor, VISTAs provide literacy tutoring or literacy-focused enrichment programming. They may use the site's curriculum, or design their own lesson plans; work with children one-on-one, or in small or large groups; provide tutoring, or bring literacy to life through cooking, theater, games, gardening and more; assist program staff or volunteers in facilitating programming, or lead a program themselves - depending on the site's needs. Programs are typically granted two VISTA members to work together throughout the summer but may request more than two.
Check out some highlights from last year's program, and a brief video featuring Summer Reads VISTA members at partner site Keystone Community Services-West 7th Community Center in Saint Paul: Strong Readers, Strong Leaders.
A select number of the Summer Reads VISTAs work on a "Capstone" in addition to serving at a site to create resources for future Summer Reads VISTAs, sites and other children's literacy programs. Check out past capstones and other children's literacy tutor resources here.
Summer Reads VISTAs serve full-time (approximately 40 hours per week), Monday-Friday, for eight weeks. Although our preference is to place VISTAs full-time at a single site, sites in the Twin Cities 7-county metro area do not need to have full-time programming or programming for the full eight weeks - some VISTAs may serve at two sites in order to create a full-time schedule. Sites in greater Minnesota must ensure the VISTAs are in service full-time, whether that involves programming at just one site or at multiple program sites.
VISTA term of service:
Dates yet to be determined for 2018 (typically second week of June through first week of August)
How do you apply?
We are not currently accepting applications for host sites. Before applying, please read through the Summer Reads Site FAQ for more details about the program and expectations for host sites.
Sites are asked to provide a one-time, small financial match toward Summer Reads to contribute to expenses not covered by the Corporation for National and Community Service (AmeriCorps VISTA), such as training and "literacy kits" (program supplies, materials and books) for the VISTA members. The cost-share rate is:
- $175 per VISTA member for half-days (4 hours or less per day)
- $275 per VISTA member for full days (more than 4 hours per day)
VISTA Supervisor trainings
If your site is selected, VISTA Supervisors are required to attend a training that covers expectations for host sites and supervisors, program policies and procedures, and more. Please register in advance (firstname.lastname@example.org, 651-251-9069).
Did you know?
Minnesota Literacy Council additionally has a year-round VISTA program. Literacy VISTAs serve behind-the-scenes full-time for 12 months to help organizations create, expand or improve literacy-focused programming for children, youth, adults or families. Literacy VISTA projects typically are renewed for 3-5 years. Organizations may host Summer Reads VISTAs and a Literacy VISTA. Find out more here.