Meet our new team members! The Mayor’s Office of Innovation and Office of Community Wealth Building are hosting four AmeriCorps VISTA members from the Rochester Youth Year Fellowship and New York State Empire Corps programs.
Rochester Youth Year (RYY) is a local AmeriCorps VISTA program administered by the Rochester Regional Network, a consortium of eight higher education institutions in the Rochester area. The program started in 2008 and has supported 93 VISTAs since, including fellow team members Brad Willows and Amy Ventura. RYY VISTAs serve at organizations that focus on education, economic opportunity, or healthy futures. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the expansion of the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI) in 2016 to fund the Empire Corps program. ESPRI “supports community-driven, poverty reduction strategies that increase economic opportunity for all New Yorkers,” according to the Governor’s office. Empire Corps VISTAs serve in 16 communities across the state, including Rochester. VISTAs in these communities support local Poverty Reduction Task Forces, modeled after Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI).
AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) provide indirect service to their host sites
during their one-year term, focusing on capacity building at non-profit organizations and public agencies devoted to alleviating poverty. Indirect service is behind the scenes work. It could include recruiting and managing volunteers, writing grants, building community partnerships, and creating effective and sustainable systems for your host site beyond your year of service. Think about a high school tutoring program: a VISTA might develop the curriculum, recruit local college students, and train the volunteers. The program is sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
Considering half of our team members are current VISTAs or alumnus, it’s no surprise CNCS ranked Rochester the No. 2 city in volunteering nationwide with 45.6 percent of residents volunteering last year. This equates to 22.9 million hours of service, worth $553.9 million! The report titled Volunteering in America surveyed 51 metropolitan areas using US Census Bureau data from about 60,000 households, defining volunteers as “individuals who performed unpaid volunteer activities through or for an organization from September 1 of the prior year through the survey week in September.”
Learn about our new members:
I’m serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Office of Community Wealth Building through Rochester Youth Year. I was born in Rochester but moved away as a toddler and returned here as an undergraduate to study Economics and Spanish at the University of Rochester. I fell in love with Rochester through my volunteer experiences as a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed community service fraternity. My internship with Senator Gillibrand’s Rochester office demonstrated the importance of our government’s policies and the impact is has on the lives of City residents. I also realized the complexity of running a small business through my work with a local marketing start-up company. As a VISTA, I’m primarily working on our City Accelerator project. I’m very excited to apply my past experiences to my work at the OCWB and hope to improve the lives of all Rochesterians!
I am serving with the Rochester Youth Year Fellowship and am thrilled to be assisting with the Kiva Rochester program here in the Office of Innovation. Watching my mother start her business over the past 10 years, I’ve seen many of the challenges facing Rochester entrepreneurs firsthand. She’s wonderful at what she does, but the learning curve on the skills necessary to running a business can be punishing and finding time to learn about and access resources can feel impossible. It is an honor to be working with a project that focuses on building up people who would typically be denied financing opportunities. I am a recent graduate of Amherst College where I studied Sociology and developed a love for qualitative research. I worked as a contributor to Professor Vanessa Fong’s Dalian project and developed and executed evaluations for Girls Rock Rochester’s 2017 fiscal year. I’m very happy to be back at home and putting that knowledge to good use as an AmeriCorps VISTA.
At Office of Innovation, I will serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA through Empire Corps with a focus in analytics to drive neighborhood revitalization and community/economic development through New York’s Empire Corps program. I’m a Rochester native and a graduate from Gallaudet University with Bachelor’s in Sociology and a minor in business administration. After graduation, I worked as a Press intern at U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York City for few months before coming back to Rochester to work with CGI Communications as a sales researcher. I’m passionate about giving back to the community, and helping it prosper.
I’m serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA through New York’s Empire Corps program. I grew up in the Rochester area and I graduated from Cornell University with a BS in Human Development and minors in Policy Analysis & Management and Inequality Studies. My interest is the intersection of sciences and human services, specifically how society can impact a young person’s development. Throughout college, I worked at a law-firm representing children in New York City’s family court, coordinated an educational urban outreach summer program in Ithaca, and created a sexual health curriculum for families in public housing units in the Bronx. I taught Biology in the Mississippi Delta with Teach for America, then returned to Rochester and served as a Youth Advocate at Wilson High School. At the OCWB, I am focusing on the development of the Financial Empowerment Center initiative and youth financial empowerment opportunities within Rochester.