The City of Buffalo has recently been awarded a grant worth $900,000 that will bring 13 AmeriCorps VISTA members to the city where they will work to eradicate poverty and engage local citizens in community service. The AmeriCorps VISTA program was created in 1965 by the late president John F. Kennedy and is designed to fight poverty in America’s urban areas, essentially acting as a “domestic peace corps.” The program creates opportunities for individuals to fight poverty in low income areas by engaging all types of Americans in service. VISTA members do this by encouraging volunteer service at the local level, generating the commitment of private sector resources, and strengthening local agencies and organizations that serve low-income communities.
The 13 VISTAs coming to Buffalo are united in their dedication to eradicating poverty, although their individual job responsibilities will vary. The VISTA members will be assigned to different city organizations, such as the Police Athletic League and the Office of New Americans as well as private partners such as the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo and the University at Buffalo. All of the VISTAs will work to expand the capacity of their specific agency to reduce poverty, facilitating economic development, and create job opportunities. The service that the VISTAs will deliver to Buffalo is equivalent to $2.8 million, although this will be done at no cost to the taxpayers. A city government receiving 13 VISTA members of greatly unprecedented and this accomplishment can truly be accredited to Buffalo’s worthy reputation as “The City of Good Neighbors.”