Chapter 11: AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates



Thumbnail for [node:title][user:name][comment:title] AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate members serve for intensive, short terms of service lasting eight, nine, or ten weeks. Unlike year-round VISTAs, Summer Associates can perform direct service activities without limitation. As a Summer Associate, you are required to abide by the same laws and regulations as other AmeriCorps VISTA members (discussed in Chapter 14) and are afforded certain legal protections. Summer Associates are eligible for limited benefits (discussed below in Benefits and Support).
Summer Associate activities, combined with ongoing VISTA programming, should result in:
  • A credible effort to alleviate poverty, not simply make poverty more tolerable
  • Outcomes that increase the project’s direct impact on those being served

Specific member assignments may vary. For example, Summer Associates could:

  • Recruit, train, and coordinate (but not select or directly supervise) community-based volunteers, including high school and college students and older adults
  • Structure long-term ways for involving community members in project activities
  • Generate materials, supplies, and space for the project
  • Involve the private sector in the project
  • Develop materials for year-round project activities
  • Conduct community education, outreach, and awareness related to the project


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Service in the AmeriCorps VISTA program is limited to a maximum of five years. Members and Summer Associates may earn up to the aggregate value of two full education awards in a lifetime. Education Awards earned as a Summer Associate do count towards the aggregate value of two full education awards.


Summer Associate benefits differ from those benefits offered to AmeriCorps VISTA members and VISTA Leaders.
Summer Associates receive:
  • A living allowance for the time served, which is equivalent to the amount received by full-time members serving in the same area
  • Choice between a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award or an end-of-service summer stipend. Only those Summer Associates who successfully complete their full term of service are eligible to receive the education award or end-of-service summer stipend.
Thumbnail for [node:title][user:name][comment:title] Each Summer Associate completes the VISTA Summer Associates Benefit Election Form on their first day of service to elect the education award or the end-of-service summer stipend. Unlike other AmeriCorps VISTA members, Summer Associates cannot change their end-of-service award option at any point during their service term.
The summer stipend is calculated based on the number of days a Summer Associate is scheduled to serve, multiplied by the daily accrual rate. For details regarding the accrual rate for the end-of-service stipend, visit Chapter 5. Federal income tax and Social Security/Medicare (FICA) deductions are withheld from the end-of-service stipend at the time of payment.
Summer Associates do not receive:
  • Health care benefits
  • Child care allowances
  • Relocation allowances
  • Non-competitive eligibility


While neither personal nor sick leave is available to Summer Associates, three categories of leave that may be available to Summer Associates are discussed below. Please see the “Emergency Leave” section below for guidelines during absences.


Summer Associates receive leave on federal holidays observed by their sponsor and/or sub-site. Summer Associates should consult their sponsor to determine recognized holidays and service schedules. 

Emergency Leave

When an emergency or illness prevents a Summer Associate from serving, sponsors and CNCS staff may assist the Summer Associate in meeting the required number of service days. CNCS staff must balance Summer Associate support with project support, avoiding excessive leave while supporting the Summer Associate through the emergency or illness.
The guidelines within which sponsors and CNCS staff may support Summer Associates in fulfilling their summer obligations are:
  • Summer Associates must report all absences to their site supervisor. The site supervisor will report the absence to the overall project supervisor. Unreported absence may be cause for early termination
  • Supervisors may arrange for limited (1-2 days) absences that will be made up by serving extra hours or extra days
    • Supervisors should prioritize the completion of make-up hours
    • Make-up days cannot extend past the last day of the Summer Associate’s service term
  • Supervisors must report to the CNCS State Office a Summer Associate’s absence beyond two days and/or requests for absences that will not be made up
    • CNCS State Office staff may allow up to five additional days of emergency leave for a death or critical illness in the immediate family, but this must be approved by the State Program Director in advance

Jury Duty

Summer Associates may be summoned for jury duty; if summoned or selected to serve on a jury, Summer Associates will continue to be enrolled in the VISTA program and retain their Summer Associate status.   If summoned for jury duty, you should provide a copy of the summons to your supervisor, and keep your supervisor apprised of your status while you need to be offsite to attend to your jury duty obligation. Allowances will be paid during the period of jury duty.  


Summer Associates are eligible to be considered for Worker’s Compensation under the Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA).


The Income Disregard provisions apply to any Summer Associate receiving government benefits.


Due to the shortened nature of the Summer Associate service term, the Future Plans Form is available the first day of service and should be completed as soon as possible. 

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