Definitions

Definitions

The following are some common words and phrases used throughout the Handbook. See 45 C.F.R. §2556.5 for additional specific definitions in the VISTA Regulations.

An Applicant for VISTA service refers to an individual who is in the process of completing, or has completed, an application for VISTA service as prescribed by CNCS, but who has been not been approved by CNCS to be a candidate.

The Application for VISTA service refers to the materials used by CNCS to capture information on an individual's eligibility and suitability for VISTA service.

A Candidate, when used in the context of an individual who has applied for VISTA service, refers to an individual whose application for VISTA service has been approved by CNCS, but who has not taken an oath, alternative oath, or affirmation to serve in the VISTA program. Candidates may include those who were enrolled in the VISTA program at a prior time.

CNCS refers to the Corporation for National and Community Service, established pursuant to section 191 of the National and Community Service Act of 1990, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 12651. CNCS is also sometimes referred to as “the Corporation.”

CNCS State Offices are the branches of CNCS that administer the VISTA and Senior Corps programs. Each CNCS State Office is led by a State Program Director (SPD) and may also include one or more State Program Officers (SPOs). The SPD reports to an Area Manager or equivalent CNCS official.

Cost Share refers to when an entity, such as a VISTA sponsor, reimburses CNCS part or all of the expenses associated with the operation of a VISTA project, such as the costs for one or more VISTAs, Leaders, or Summer Associates placed at a VISTA project.

The Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, as amended, or DVSA, is the Federal law enacted by Congress that outlines the purposes of the VISTA program and the parameters within which it may operate.

A Leader, or a VISTA Leader, is a VISTA member who serves at a VISTA project in a prescribed leadership capacity.  A leader may be a former VISTA, AmeriCorps member, or Peace Corps volunteer who demonstrated to CNCS exemplary skills and leadership in community service.  Leaders serve different functions depending on the needs of local projects, including recruiting and coordinating VISTAs, preparing in-service trainings, identifying new funding sources, and serving as liaisons between the community and CNCS.

A Memorandum of Agreement is a written agreement between CNCS and a sponsor regarding the terms of the sponsor's involvement and responsibilities in the VISTA program.

An Oath is the confirmation and formal commitment to VISTA service, taken in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 3331, by an individual who is a U.S. citizen or national. The taking of the Oath formalizes an individual's enrollment into the VISTA program.

Project or VISTA project means a set of VISTA activities operated and overseen by, and the responsibility of, a sponsor, to realize the goals of Title I of the DVSA.

A Project applicant or VISTA project applicant is an entity that submits an application to CNCS to operate, oversee, and be responsible for a VISTA project.

A Project application or VISTA project application refers to the application materials prescribed by CNCS to ascertain information on an applying entity's eligibility and suitability to operate, oversee, and be responsible for a VISTA project.

The Project director or VISTA project director is the staff person of the sponsor who has been assigned by the sponsor the overall responsibility for the management of the VISTA project.

Site or VISTA site or VISTA project site means a location where VISTA members serve. VISTA projects may operate at one or more sites. The sponsor itself can be a site and it may or may not have members serving on its premises.

The Sponsor, VISTA sponsor, or VISTA project sponsor is a public agency or private nonprofit organization that receives assistance under Title I of the DVSA, and is responsible for operating and overseeing a VISTA project. A public agency may be a federal, state, local, or tribal government.

A Summer Associate refers to a type of VISTA member who is enrolled for VISTA service, during a period between May 1 and September 15, and who is also subject to terms and conditions of service that differ in certain respects from that of members whose service terms last for a year. A Summer Associate must be available to provide continuous full-time service for a period of at least eight weeks and a maximum of ten weeks.

The Supervisor or VISTA Supervisor is the staff member of the sponsor or a subrecipient who has been assigned by the sponsor or the subrecipient the responsibility for the day-to-day oversight of one or more VISTAs.

The VISTA member, the VISTA, or the VISTA refers to an individual enrolled full-time for VISTA service in the VISTA program, as authorized under Title I of the DVSA. (Review eligibility requirements here.)

The VISTA program is the acronym for the Federal government program named Volunteers in Service to America and authorized under Title I of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 4950 et seq.

VISTA service refers to VISTA service activities performed by a VISTA member while enrolled in the VISTA program.