Beginning in 2010, Tulane University partnered with Virginia Tech and the University of Minnesota in an ongoing effort to create stronger community partnerships through the effective use of AmeriCorps*VISTA members. The VISTA members work directly with community organizations and liaise with university programs to better utilize higher education resources in local communities impacted by poverty. These robust and long term partnerships are shepherded by VISTA members after which they become the responsibility of the university and community members to maintain.
VISTA members working with Virginia Tech target various issues facing the rural community surrounding Blacksburg and nearby counties, such as food access, education, and refugee resettlement. In the first year of the program, VISTA members partnered with the Pilot Street Project supporting refugees in southwest Virginia, the Christiansburg Institute to maintain a century long educational history, and spearheaded the development of a collaborative structure to bring together multiple food pantry and distribution programs within a fifty mile radius.
Through the University of Minnesota's UROC program, three VISTA members work collaboratively to develop an "engagement zone" in the Northside neighborhood of Minneapolis. The VISTA members created connections with more than thirty non-profit and neighborhood organizations in the area and currently work with these groups to determine unmet needs that could be filled by university resources. Their long term goals include increasing student and faculty volunteers to the area, the creation of sustainable partnerships, and fully leveraging higher education resources through other institutions in the Minneapolis area.
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 email@example.com