Spring-Summer 2005

The CTC VISTA Project — Update for Year 6: 2005-'06

The community technology CTC VISTA project — the most popular project in the entire AmeriCorps online recruitment system — will be operating in the 2005-06 program year under new guidelines that invite participation by a wide range of community media and technology organizations involved in providing digital opportunities and resources to those who do not ordinarily have access to them.

Briefly, we are moving towards becoming a more proactive project with the establishment of priority areas. The project will develop resources and curriculum to support, learn from, and teach best practices in these areas:

  • community networking
  • community organizing and development
  • technology support to non-profit organizations
  • digital media support programs for youth

While organizational applications are being accepted on a rolling basis, the project will operate largely on a first-come, first-serve basis for all who submit approved plans. Final applications are sent to the appropriate Corporation for National and Community Service state offices on July 11, for the end of August PreService Orientation program start. Participant organizations should plan to have the appropriate staff attend the Supervisors Orientation and Training Program on one of two dates: the preconference June 16 th session in Cleveland prior to the CTCNet annual conference, or the September 12 th session in Boston.

Overview/Project Priorities

Since 2000, the CTC VISTA Project has provided coordination, recruitment, training and support for a yearly cadre of approximately 40 AmeriCorps*VISTAs working in community technology centers (CTCs) and related programs across the country. Organizations interested in becoming involved should meet project priorities and other qualifications and be responsible for covering project fees and other expenses, as described in the project basics.

Program changes were initiated at the urging of Corporation for National and Community Service leadership in Washington, DC, which encouraged the Project to become more directive by promoting program and resource development in targeted areas. The Project has thus defined a set of priorities that promote cutting edge work in the field that we believe will enhance the effectiveness of our VISTA members and the organizations they support and increase the impact of their work with underserved communities, thereby strengthening the Project, supporting the movement, and benefiting all parties involved.

Applicant organizations are free to address a variety of organizational and program needs, including the traditional AmeriCorps*VISTA ones involving volunteer program development and management, developing partnerships and program material for outreach and fundraising. The VISTA work plan should contain at least one goal that addresses the project's program priority areas that will have prominent area specialists to provide individual and group support as follows:

Frank Odasz
Frank Odasz

•  Community networking, including wireless. The recent burst of energy and initiatives around neighborhood and municipal wireless projects, as noted in recent issues of the Community Technology Review and elsewhere, underlines this as one of the most promising areas for community information and communications technology development in the immediate future. Experienced community networking projects as well as organizations new to the arena with promising plans that can use the capacity building resources of an AmeriCorps*VISTA member are encouraged. Special support will be provided by Frank Odasz, Lone Eagle Consulting, cofounder and board member AFCN, author and online course developer with emphasis on using the Internet to build learning communities.

Ed Schwartz
Ed Schwartz

•  Community organizing and development, using emerging technology organizing tools such as GIS systems, databases, podcasting, and blogs as well as cell phones, photography, and other non-traditional organizing technology. An interest in using and developing open source resources, both applications that run on proprietary operating systems as well as Linux, is especially welcome. Support provided by Ed Schwartz, author of NetActivism: How Citizens Use the Internet and founder/director of the Institute for the Study of Civic Values.

Jillaine Smith
Jilliane Smith

•  Technology support to other nonprofit organizations . When the applicant is not a CTC, some programmatic component involving CTC support should be included. With the elimination of traditional technical assistance (TA) to Nonprofit programs supported elsewhere by the Corporation, the need to address technology needs of the entire sector is pressing. Support provided by Jillaine Smith, specialist in integrating technology support, strategic communications and organizational development; NTEN and Alliance for Nonprofit Management member.

Nettrice Gaskins
Nettrice Gaskins

•  Programs for at-risk youth,with a particular emphasis on digital media skills acquisition . Project-based arts, media, and technology programs, with academic support, are especially encouraged in helping young people gain skills that prepare them for college and tomorrow's workforce. Support provided by Nettrice Gaskins, adjunct faculty and computer arts academic specialist, UMass/Boston and Mass College of Art; board member CTCNet and NAMAC.

Program fees/costs and other information

Program fees are $2,500/VISTA for CTCs new to the project, $3,000 for continuing CTCs; $3,000/VISTA for new support organizations and organizations supporting CTCs at more than one site; $3,500 for continuing support organizations and multi-site projects. Organizations should additionally budget for: CTCNet Membership ($100); funds for your VISTA to attend the CTCNet annual conference in June 2006; transportation, professional development, and support amenities. For more details on program fees, the application process, and the selection process overview, see the project basics. ♦

Peter Miller is director of the CTC VISTA Project; Paul Hansen is Assistant Project Director.


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