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Established in 2012, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) project places AmeriCorps VISTA members in Racine and Kenosha area organizations.
The program helps to build capacity and sustain collaboration among community nonprofit and government organizations to empower low income individuals and families by addressing economic development, job creation, financial education, and asset building. The Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside partnered with the City of Racine-Mayor's Office of Strategic Partnerships and the Racine Kenosha Community Action Agency (RKCAA) in the development and implementation of this project.
The UW-Parkside 2014-2015 VISTA team will build and strengthen systems, expand and enhance programming, and create an infrastructure that allows for the sustainability of effective programs and partnerships.
City of Racine Department of City Development to promote the economic stability of persons, businesses, and neighborhoods. This involves surveying existing City owned properties to determine a potential future use, assisting the Landmarks Preservation Commission in educating the public about the care and maintenance of older homes, providing capacity building support for the Community Economic Development Corporation, and acting as a liaison for the commercial district to create a database for business to business commerce.
Brian Dean is working with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to increase the number of Racine households that experience financial stability. He is building new partnerships while strengthening existing ones, doing outreach, recruiting new and retaining past volunteer tax preparers, and applying for funds to support a full time VITA coordinator. He is also working on diversifying fund development for operating costs associated with The Emergency Food Assistance Program, and assisting with event planning and coordination for the Rent Smart Program, both of which help low-income residents of Racine County become more self-sufficient.
Human Capital Development Corp, Inc. provides people with the necessary training and life skills to gain employment in the building and construction trades. Shebria Small conducts outreach, manages and improves the student database, and streamlines forms and processes to improve communications with perspective students, current students, and graduates of the programs.
Continuum of Care for the City and County of Racine, U.A., a coalition of homeless service providers, and one of its member organizations, the HOPES Center of Racine. He is assisting the Continuum of Care as it conducts strategic planning, establishes new policies and practices, and undergoes a re-branding process. He is also supporting the Continuum during the application process for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, which will allow it to diversify and stabilize the funding it needs to operate its various programs. With the HOPES Center, Demetri is developing a financial literacy curriculum, creating a sliding fee scale, and researching Medicaid billing procedures which will allow the organization to expand its efforts serve the low-income and mentally ill of Racine.
Sustainable Edible Economic Development, Racine Urban Garden Network, Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization
Amy Macemon works with three organizations to increase awareness, access, and resources relating to local food. Through SEED, Amy is bringing together local farmers, value added food processors, and buyers to create a food hub. Amy is increasing RUGN’s capacity through program development, the creation of volunteer recruitment and retention policies, the improvement of partnerships, and the expansion of knowledge in the community of local food systems. HALO is involved in the project in two ways; they have a commercial incubator kitchen which Amy promotes to entrepreneurs looking to get started creating value added food products. The other initiative is a hoop house that will provide job skills training for HALO residents and contribute to the local food movement in Racine.