AmeriCorps Week (2019): Volunteer Infrastructure Project (VIP) (Originally Published on United Way Worldwide)
Each year, Inland Empire United Way (IEUW) mobilizes a local cohort of AmeriCorps members to serve with the Volunteer Infrastructure Project (VIP) Fellowship, a CalSERVES statewide program that addresses the significant challenges faced by California’s communities. IEUW places VIP Fellows to serve at various Partner Site organizations, where they build sustainable volunteer programs that strengthen capacity to better serve more children and families. Currently, 9 VIP Fellows serve at 5 organizations in Southern California’s Inland Empire region—all of them creating new possibilities in areas such as early literacy, affordable housing, mentoring, basic needs, and college/career readiness.
VIP Fellows have not only added their time and talent to the programs they have worked on, but also added value to their Partner Sites. Since 2009, IEUW’s VIP Fellows have engaged over 8,500 volunteers to serve more than 72,000 volunteer hours as mentors, business leader presenters, school beautification volunteers, and in other capacities. They have also brought in nearly $190,000 of in-kind and monetary donations for their volunteer programs.
Each VIP Fellow is responsible for projects such as recruiting and training volunteers, developing systems to track and manage volunteers, and raising funds to support volunteer programs, as well as expanding their own opportunity through extensive professional development. Through this work, VIP Fellows also spend time in their local community, building partnerships and fostering lasting relationships with their organizations and those they serve.
Additionally, IEUW hosts AmeriCorps VISTA members and VIP Fellows to build capacity in its own programs, such as Kids Pack providing weekend food for children most at-risk of hunger and food insecurity; School Tools providing no-cost, new school supplies to classrooms in schools with at least 70% enrollment in the federal Free and Reduced Meal Program; ieReads engaging volunteers to improve early literacy outcomes; and Launch Point providing college/career readiness activities.
Thanks to CalSERVES and the Napa County Office of Education, over 100 AmeriCorps members have served as part of the IEUW cohort over the years, while also being a part of a larger statewide project.
Inland Empire United Way and the AmeriCorps VIP program demonstrate the power of collaboration to tackle the toughest challenges in the community. AmeriCorps VIP is administered by California Volunteers and sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service.
For more information, please visit: www.ieuw.org/americorps