FL|CC AmeriCorps VISTA Initiative
The FL|CC AmeriCorps VISTA Initiative contributes to the missions of FL|CC and the Corporation for National and Community
Service by placing VISTA members with colleges, universities and community-based organizations. The FL|CC AmeriCorps VISTA Initiative
provides resources, networking opportunities, and training for VISTA members. FL|CC VISTA members work to combat poverty through
leveraging higher education resources to build the capacity of local non-profit organizations and through recruiting and training college students
to provide college access mentoring for youth. FL|CC VISTA members are successfully building bridges between the classrooms and
communities by connecting educators, students, and community partners to improve education and address societal needs through campus-community
partnerships, applied civic education, and engaged citizenship. Students are learning from being engaged in meaningful service opportunities that
create positive change in communities.
Founded as Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) in 1965 and incorporated into the
AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993, VISTA has been on the front lines in the fight against poverty in America for more than 40 years. VISTA
members commit to serve full-time for a year at a nonprofit organization or local government agency, working to fight illiteracy, improve health
services, create businesses, strengthen community groups, and much more. More than 170,000 Americans have served through VISTA. Today, nearly 6,000
VISTA members serve throughout the country.
VISTA Service Stories
Rachel Smith (FSC) – AmeriCorps VISTA Special Recognition Finalist
Ms. Smith is in her second year as an FL|CC AmeriCorps VISTA member in the Life and Cultural Center, where she is the coordinator of the FSC
volunteer program. In her role she works with community partners in coordinating volunteer opportunities for the campus community. She developed and led
an Alternative Spring Break trip to Destin, FL to help restore the ecosystem and assist local community organizations. She coordinates week long
activities during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week and collaborated with over 25 community agencies for a campus volunteer fair.
Gina McKinney (Polk) – AmeriCorps College Access & Success Special Recognition Winner
Ms. Gina McKinney is the embodiment of the American dream. A native of Haiti, Ms. McKinney was born to a single mother. At the age of six and barely
speaking any English, Ms. McKinney immigrated to the United States. In her sophomore year of high school, Ms. McKinney says, "I became a homeless
unaccompanied youth, and I was truly helpless, hopeless and suicidal... and was close to becoming another teen statistic." Then three years ago, her high
school math teacher made the courageous decision to take this lost child into her home. In her own words, "not only was my life saved, but also my spirit
and my education. I have been given a second chance!" While still in high school she brought mentoring programs to two middle schools. Ms. McKinney is
currently a student at Polk State College and serving as Americorps mentor to high risk youth. She is the current president of Polk State College
Eagleteers, which mobilizes its 75 members in a variety of community service projects. In her AmeriCorps term she's seen 70% of her classes improve by at
least one letter grade.
Ms. McKinney's goal is to earn a Master's degree in education and teach middle school history. She wants to dedicate her education and career to
helping youth and families who are going through what she went through.
Steven Carrillo (Stetson) – AmeriCorps VISTA Special Recognition Winner
Steven, along with one of his students, is registering people to see the Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum, which brought in over 200+ attendees.
Steven Carrillo has served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Center for Community Engagement at Stetson University for the past year focusing on building the
infrastructure of youth empowerment programs and developing community partnerships. Steven graduated from Stetson University in 2011 with a Bachelor's
degree in Psychology and a minor in Marketing.
Steven has enrolled in a second term with AmeriCorps at Stetson to further develop a mentor program for first-generation college students. During his terms
he managed six different issue areas, working with over ten community partners, personally mentoring 30+ students, establishing two new student
organizations for community outreach, developing core curriculums for youth empowerment projects, serving on a the IMPACT Conference national planning
committee and on the DeLand Unity Coalition, and has presented at numerous conferences on youth empowerment and mentor training."