New group of Literacy VISTAs help Minnesota literacy programs get to the next level

The new program year for Literacy VISTA is underway! Twenty Literacy VISTAs are now going through on-site orientation, getting to know to their host sites, learning more about the communities in which they will serve and beginning work on their projects. The VISTAs will be serving at a variety of different host sites on a variety of projects, helping Minnesota literacy programs to expand their scale and reach or to enhance their effectiveness in providing high-quality literacy services to low-income communities.

Here is the list of our 20 Literacy VISTA host sites and a brief description of each host site's goal for its 3-5 year VISTA project.

American Indian OIC

Goal: To increase the number of American Indian OIC adult basic education students who attain their GED. The VISTA’s work will be twofold: 1. Examine barriers that prevent current students from attaining their GED and develop solutions to mitigate those barriers and 2. Expand the visibility of AIOIC’s ABE program so that other programs that provide services to similar populations will refer their clients to its campus to attain their GED.

Anoka County Library

Goal: To offer new programs for children, from cradle to graduation, focusing on youth who are not library users / lack library cards,  who are living in poverty, and/or face barriers to library use. The VISTA project will identify programs that can be impactful and sustainable in multiple libraries within the Anoka County Library system.

Beyond Walls

Goal: To enhance Beyond Walls’ ability to support students’ academic progress and character development by building capacity related to volunteer management, program evaluation and stewardship/development for the organization.

Brian Coyle Center

Goal: To improve academic performance and engagement in our 6-12 after school youth program by increasing the effectiveness of our literacy and academic support programming. Specifically, the VISTA project will support the ability of volunteer tutors and staff to more effectively make use of assessment data, literacy interventions, and youth engagement to address the unique literacy needs of individual students.

Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth

Goal: To build a sustainable infrastructure to increase youth engagement at all levels of Alliance partner organizations and to increase participation in afterschool and summer opportunities that build social emotional skills and increase student engagement and success, to increase graduation rates, decrease young people's experience of community crime, and to increase pathways to college and career.

CLUES Saint Paul

Goal: To create a new Children’s Program at our Saint Paul facility. The ultimate goal of this program, in conjunction with our adult ESL classes, is to improve the overall literacy of Latino immigrant families so they will be better equipped to participate meaningfully in their new communities, and their families will be better positioned for long-term economic and social stability. 

Communication Service for the Deaf Minnesota

Goal: To develop and eventually implement a Parent Education program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) parents in Minnesota that focuses on English literacy through topics such as child development and job skills. The class will allow adult students to study reading and writing with their children in class simultaneously, gain the literacy skills needed to find gainful employment, develop the tools for successful parenting, and enable them to pass their newfound knowledge on to their children and be one step closer to ending the cycle of poverty. 

Eden Prairie Schools Community Education

Goal: To get 4-year-olds ready for all-day, every day kindergarten primarily through building the capacity of our new volunteer program. The VISTA project will expand and increase the efficiency of our outreach efforts to serve more families in poverty and to help generate new resources -- specifically volunteers -- to support our new early childhood program structure. The volunteer program infrastructure built by the VISTA project will also be expanded and replicated to support literacy in other Eden Prairie School programs.


Goal: To build EDIT’s capacity to serve low-income youth in the Whittier and Camden neighborhoods by adding new literary arts offerings to its existing range of successful social justice, arts, and service learning programming. This project will also include designing an iBook curriculum that can be utilized by sites across the Twin Cities area. Through this project, EDIT aims to help foster a greater sense of belonging and community among Whittier and Camden youth and to encourage long term school, social, and community engagement among them, using literary arts, social justice, and service learning as connecting points.

English Learning Center

Goal: To create opportunities for adult students to increase the intensity of their English language learning efforts and take ownership of their learning outside of the classroom through distance learning and Open Educational Resources lessons. Creating more opportunities for students to improve their English language literacy in a shorter amount of time will help improve our students' self-efficacy, independence, and employability. Improving English language skills is not only the goal of all of our students- it is also the key to opening up myriad possibilities for them, their families, and their communities.

Guadalupe Alternative Programs

Goal: To increase the effectiveness of GAP’s Y.A.L.E. program for English Language Learners by developing a volunteer tutoring program to provide academic support to students in the classroom, in small groups and one on one as needed. The volunteer tutor program will help increase the students’ language acquisition skills needed to complete their high school diploma and an industry recognized certification; this will allow them to transition to a career or to an entry level employment position.

Minneapolis American Indian Center

Goal: To improve the effectiveness of the Ginew/Golden Eagle (GGE) Program and help it to expand by (1) expanding/enhancing program curriculum to improve academic outcomes for youth, (2) continue to develop processes and document relationships with community partners in order to expand opportunities for youth enrichment activities; (3) continue to develop and standardize procedures for the volunteer recruitment and coordination activities that support the G/GE Program; and (4) help to develop and implement a comprehensive communication/marketing strategy to aid in fund-raising and recruitment of youth/families.

Open Door Learning Center - Arlington Hills

Goal: To develop a distance learning program for Open Door Learning Center - Arlington Hills, in order to increase the intensity of instruction and provide all learners additional opportunities to practice and increase their language and literacy skills as well as technology skills; to design a distance learning program model for a non-traditional distance learning student poulation that may be shared with other organizations; and to create a self-sustaining, volunteer-led distance learning program, in which volunteers enroll, orient, track and coach students throughout their distance learning participation.

Pillsbury House and Theatre

Goal: To increase effectiveness in our literacy efforts. The VISTA project will build capacity through improved training, assessment strategy, data collection, individualized plans for youth, and enhancements to curriculum, allowing PHT to provide a higher quality of literacy programming and improving the academic performance and engagement of the youth we serve.

Reading Partners

Goal: To increase Reading Partners’ capacity to recruit and retain volunteers to serve as tutors in Saint Paul and Minneapolis schools. A VISTA will work with staff to develop a long-term plan for community engagement, forge volunteer partnerships throughout the Twin Cities region in order to create sustainable volunteer pipelines, and evaluate the effectiveness of current volunteer recruitment and management systems and develop improvements that will lead to increased volunteer impact, satisfaction, and retention.

Sabathani Community Center

Goal: To enhance the rigor, structure and quality of academic programming provided to  low-income students of color by identifying, recommending and implementing learning tools, testing procedures, recording measures and evaluation metrics and building capacity among staff and volunteers to implement them. By supporting at-risk youth with quality literacy programs, we help them overcome the achievement gap that is anticipated of low-income students of color. In doing so, we help them build roads out of multigenerational poverty through scholastic achievement.

Saint Paul Community Literacy Consortium

Goal:  To help our ten member agencies expand and enhance engagement with the African American community. The VISTA will develop an Equity in Mentoring program that will provide staff and volunteers of Adult Basic Education with the skills to provide advisement and mentoring for underrepresented students in a culturally competent way. The VISTA member will support partnerships and develop content for culturally competent trainings on advisement and mentoring to help eradicate the achievement gap that exists for adult learners.

Twin Cities Housing Development Corporation

Goal: To develop an after school reading tutoring program for struggling Kindergarten-3rd grade readers who are members of low income families living in or near TCHDC’s Liberty Plaza housing community in order to help young readers improve their reading proficiency. VISTA members will focus on: 1) a program platform that uses myON Reader, an 8,000+ book online children’s library, as a primary reading/tutoring, program organizing, and proficiency assessment resource; and 2) volunteer tutor recruitment, training and management systems, where none previously existed, that support a 1:1 and small group volunteer tutoring structure.

Waite House

Goal: To strengthen and re-envision a literacy program for 100+ K-8th grade Latino, African-American and Native American youth with school-year and summer components using culturally relevant materials in group and individual activities to ignite a love for reading in every student.


Goal: To develop a structured and sustainable GED program. As a result of the VISTA project's capacity-related improvements, YouthLink's onsite high school equivalency (GED) program will be able to help hundreds of young people take the first step toward achieving long-term educational goals, remove significant barriers to a more self-reliant adulthood, and establish a foundation from which they can gain the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to permanently overcome homelessness.

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