VISTA Host Sites

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2017-18 AmeriCorps VISTA Host Sites

12 Alliance VISTA members serve at host site organizations across Minnesota to support and amplify the site’s capacity to be effective and powerful solutions in addressing poverty and educational inequities. VISTA members serve alongside staff to support young people’s paths to graduation and work to close the opportunity and achievement gaps in Minnesota. The following are our 2017-18 Host Sites:

Amherst H. Wilder Foundation – Youth Leadership Initiative

The Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) is a leading program that promotes multicultural / cross-cultural understanding among St Paul teens while developing strong youth leaders.  The YLI VISTA’s goal is to help establish YLI and Wilder’s brand as a “cutting edge gold standard” in the field of youth development and out-of-school-time which includes developing trainings on Wilder’s best practices to share with youth workers across MN and the country so that the YLI model can be adapted and replicated across the nation.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities (BBBS) is the oldest and largest mentoring organization in the region. BBBS makes meaningful, monitored matches between adults volunteers (Bigs) and children (Littles) in the Twin Cities metro area. The Diversity & Inclusion VISTA  reviews and updates BBBS mentoring program practices to incorporate “critical mentoring,” an approach to mentoring focused on the development of a critical consciousness in mentors and mentees. The Social Emotional Learning VISTA assists BBBS in designing and evaluating mentoring experiences that have increased intentionality around promoting social and emotional skills in youth.

Carlton County

Carlton County was established, with boundaries as they currently are, in 1857, and is home to over 35,000 citizens, including over 3,200 people of the Fond du Lac Reservation, the Lake Superior Band of Ojibway.  The VISTA position is housed in the County Coordinators Office within the Communities Restorative Response Division.  The Communities Restorative Response Program exists to provide a restorative, responsible community based approach to delinquency and conflict. The VISTA focuses on providing support and outreach regarding Restorative Practices for schools and community organizations.

Children’s Defense Fund of Minnesota
Children’s Defense Fund-MN youth programs aim to keep children and young adults engaged by strengthening their influence with peers, reinforcing their relationships with partner organizations, and establishing a loud voice to make the needs of children and youth known locally and nationally. The Alliance VISTA Member supports the expansion of CDF-MN’s Youth Programs in the Twin Cities. These programs (Beat the Odds and Freedom Schools) support academic success, build leadership skills and promote community engagement.

Community Mediation and Restorative Services

Since 1983, Community Mediation & Restorative Services, Inc. (CMRS) has been helping individuals move from conflict to resolution and from harm to healing through respectful and confidential mediation and restorative justice processes. CMRS believes many of our community’s most pressing issues–housing instability, juvenile crime, family/workplace/neighborhood discord — stem from an unresolved dispute or offense. The VISTA conducts best practice research in addition to building partnerships and infrastructure around referral systems from schools to CMRS to help students and families in housing crisis to reduce poverty.


GradMinnesota is an initiative of Minnesota Alliance With Youth, Minnesota Department of Education, and the Office of the Governor.  The collaborative is an outgrowth of the nonpartisan GradNation Campaign, led by America’s Promise Alliance. GradMN’s vision is that all young people in Minnesota will graduate from high school prepared for success in postsecondary opportunity, work, civic engagement, and life. The GradMinnesota VISTA Member convenes partners, identifies and disseminates best practices, resources and materials, to engage young people in school and learning, and assist with program implementation. GradMinnesota VISTAs work specifically in the parameters of GradMinnesota’s seven policy recommendations, the framework GradMinnesota sets forth to achieving a high school graduation rate of 90% for ALL students in MN.

Hunger Impact Partners

Hunger Impact Partners (HIP) is the legacy organization of the successful Hunger-Free Minnesota campaign, which added 70 million new meals to Minnesota’s emergency food system in approximately four years. Established in 2015, Hunger Impact Partners focuses on programs available to food insecure children and their families. Working to close the academic achievement gap for low income kids, HIP believes that nutrition is key to supporting their learning performance and health outcomes. The VISTA builds relationships with HIP grantee organizations and community partners as well as evaluates and improves communication and marketing tools to spread actionable insights and best practices effectively across MN.

Ignite Afterschool

Ignite Afterschool is a statewide network of organizations committed to closing access gaps to high quality afterschool and summer learning opportunities experienced by young people across Minnesota.  Decades of research demonstrate that regular participation in high quality afterschool programs can support success in school, STEM identity, social emotional learning and other key outcomes areas that support positive outcomes for youth.  As the statewide network, Ignite supports afterschool programs across the state in professional development and continuous program improvement.  Ignite also provides key information on gaps, needs and effective practices to help make the case for afterschool.  The network is comprised of other state association, city/local afterschool collaboratives, funders, and afterschool program providers from urban, suburban and Greater Minnesota communities. As a network, Ignite’s ability to positively engage partner organizations is critical to our success. The VISTA is working to develop a database and engagement system that ensures the best possible experience for Ignite partners.

Minneapolis Public Schools – Roosevelt High School

Roosevelt High School is one of the most ethnically diverse schools in the Minneapolis Public Schools District (and in Minnesota). Situated in South Minneapolis, just off the Blue Line, they draw students from across the city and metro area. The VISTA supports the building of systems, structures, and activities that increase positive interactions between students and community members and to increase student voice in instructional feedback and school policies, especially as it relates to issues of equity.

Minneapolis Public Schools – Out4Good

Out4Good and MPS is dedicated to creating safe and supportive schools for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender students, families, teachers and staff. Out4Good offers support to their community through outreach events and school and district level resources. The Alliance VISTA works in tandem with the Director of Student Retention & Recovery and Coordinator of the Out4Good Program to accelerate academic strategies and narrow the achievement gap for LGBTQ students.  The VISTA assists with identifying issues and barriers that contribute to the gap, create opportunities for culturally responsive practices and methods to deploy gap-closing strategies district-wide.