The Volunteers in Service to America or VISTA program was authorized by Congress in 1964 to provide constructive opportunities for Americans to volunteer on a full-time basis with locally sponsored projects designed to increase the capability of low-income people to improve the condition of their lives. VISTA volunteers are assigned to live and work in urban or rural sites located within any of the United States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, or Guam. Volunteers serve for at least one year and receive a basic subsistence allowance and coverage for health insurance. An additional $90 per month is paid as a stipend upon completion of service.
The types of services provided include drug abuse prevention, education, housing, economic development, community design, weatherization, community development, and other programs to address the needs of low-income communities. At the beginning of the program, most VISTA volunteers were recruited from college campuses. Most VISTA volunteers are recruited directly from the community. In September 1992, 22 percent of all VISTA volunteers were recent college graduates compared to only 13 percent in 1989.
During the 1989 VISTA Reauthorization Hearings, Congress expressed interest in raising the proportion of VISTA volunteers with college degrees. As part of this effort, ACTION endeavored to make college students more aware of the VISTA program and increase applications from college campuses through a targeted marketing campaign. This campaign took place during the 1991/92 school year. A contract was awarded to study the effectiveness of the marketing campaign. The purpose of this report is to analyze data from that contract.
This analysis was done outside of ACTION to avoid the perception of bias. The Department of Health and Human Services staff did the analyses at the request of Jane Kenny, Director of ACTION.