Advancing National Service

Introduction

By engaging with the public, elected officials, and the broader national service network, VISTA sponsors build awareness of and support for their projects, AmeriCorps VISTA, and CNCS. Publicizing the VISTA project is a means of building support and increasing the likelihood of success. Taking the time to communicate with the public helps attract resources from the community—including volunteers, supporters, and funding—and helps educate people about the project.

See the section on Marketing, Outreach, and Recruitment for additional information.

Media

Traditional media, including print, television, and radio are effective ways to increase awareness of your VISTA project. Traditional media is a useful method to recruit volunteers, VISTA members, or request specific support of your project needs.

Our resources include answers to many frequently asked questions and offer tips and ideas for people new to public relations and those interested in learning new ideas for broadcasting their message. Find our resources here: Sharing Your National Service Story:  A Guide to Working with the Media and CNCS’s Communications Guide.

Social Media

On social media, sponsors can use #AmeriCorpsVISTA and #IamVISTA, and tag @AmeriCorpsVISTA, @AmeriCorps, and @NationalService in posts related to projects where VISTA members are present. Sponsors are also encouraged to like and re-tweet national service-related posts and to follow VISTA and CNCS on social media platforms. In addition, many CNCS State Offices and State Commissions have accounts that sponsors can follow.  Check the Social Media Hub to find your CNCS State Office or Commission.

VISTA has a presence on Facebook (@AmeriCorpsVISTA) and YouTube (CNCS).

The Corporation for National and Community Service has a presence on a number of social media sites. The Social Media Hub has links to all CNCS accounts.

Outreach to Elected Officials

VISTA sponsors are encouraged to reach out to their local elected officials on an ongoing basis to educate them about the impact of local VISTA projects. However, as set forth in Section 403 of the DVSA, sponsors are legally prohibited from using VISTA resources (VISTA members or grant funds) to lobby. Contact with elected officials, depending on the facts, may step over the line to prohibited lobbying activities on the part of the sponsor.

National Service Recognition Day

On National Service Recognition Day, thousands of local leaders across the country honor AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers by participating in recognition events, issuing official proclamations, and taking to social media in a nationwide show of appreciation. This annual initiative takes place the first Tuesday in April, and is led by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, and Cities of Service.

In coordination with other local national service sponsors, VISTA sponsors can play important roles in conducting outreach to mayors and city leaders, county officials, and tribal leaders; organizing and supporting events; and hosting site visits.

More information is available on the National Service Recognition Day page.

Partnering with Other National Service Programs

VISTA sponsors and sites are encouraged to connect with other national service programs in their geographic areas. The CNCS State Office can make introductions between sponsors that may not otherwise be connected. Reports on national service sponsors by state are also available to the public at Service by State.

Days of Service

Sponsors play an important role in supporting Days of Service by actively encouraging VISTA members to host or participate in Days of Service events. In some cases, VISTA members may be involved in organizing Day of Service events that engage other volunteers. In others, they may serve as volunteers alongside community members at events that are organized by other groups or in roles distinct from their VISTA projects.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

The MLK, Jr. Day of Service is a federal holiday dedicated to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in honor of his legacy and passion for service.

We encourage our National Service participants and partners to make MLK, Jr. Day a “Day On, Not a Day Off” and serve the community to bring Dr. King’s vision closer to reality. VISTA members can participate in community events or can coordinate events of their own.

More information, including event registration, promotional materials, and other resources are available here

September 11th Day of Service and Remembrance

The September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance is the culmination of efforts, originally launched in 2002, that promote community service on 9/11 as an annual and forward-looking tribute to the 9/11 victims, survivors, and those who rose up in service in response to the attacks.

More information, including event registration and toolkits, is available here.

AmeriCorps Week

AmeriCorps Week is a celebration of all things AmeriCorps – from the programs and organizations that make this national service program possible in thousands of locations across the country, to the members who have committed to "Get Things Done" since the program’s inception in 1994.

AmeriCorps Week takes place every March. More information and resources are available on the AmeriCorps Week Resources page.