College, City of Albion Receive Major AmeriCorps VISTA Support

March 23, 2016

Albion College and the City of Albion will get a national boost for local community building when 11 full-time AmeriCorps VISTA service members arrive this summer. A public presentation of this award is scheduled for Tuesday, April 5, at 4:30 p.m. at Washington Gardner School, 401 E. Michigan Ave., in conjunction with a Michigan Works-sponsored career and internship fair.

The Corporation for National and Community Service approved program support for the Build Albion AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Initiative. This program will underwrite 11 AmeriCorps members to work with the College and the community to support local education programs, economic development, neighborhood stabilization and healthy-living initiatives.

Albion College President Mauri Ditzler applauds the program and those who will make it a success in Albion.

“When I came to Albion College, I knew about the complex social and economic challenges we faced in our community,” he said. “What I quickly learned is that Albion did not need saving; it needed partnership and the capacity to turn itself around. I endorsed College staff and faculty to turn their hearts and minds to this effort, and now we are seeing the results of that labor.”

“AmeriCorps service members will work throughout the Albion community with partners that include the City of Albion, the Albion Economic Development Corporation, the Calhoun County Land Bank, the public schools, Habitat for Humanity and Michigan Works, to name just a few,” said Gregg Strand, the College’s director of corporate and foundation relations and one of many who spearheaded the grant partnership. “The College is in a unique position to provide grant support and administer programs in Albion, but grants alone don’t turn around communities. What makes this program really exciting is the partnership of local organizations all the way up to the federal support of AmeriCorps. This is what will make the program, and this community turnaround, a success.”

Albion City Manager Sheryl Mitchell shared similar feelings. “The City of Albion is extremely excited about the incoming AmeriCorps VISTA workers who will leverage our local resources and partnerships to address some critical needs,” she said. “This is a unique and innovative approach to capacity building, with the City partnering with Albion College and other community partners, utilizing AmeriCorps VISTA workers,” Mitchell said. “This will enhance our ability to have a long-term positive impact in Albion that our residents can see, feel and appreciate.”

Albion City Council member Andrew French, who is also director of community action and special assistant to the president at Albion College, will supervise the AmeriCorps members during their first year of service. “When we launched the College’s Build Albion Fellows Program last year, we knew we needed to add to that positive momentum,” he said. “AmeriCorps will complement the Fellows program and it is another step in a positive direction of College and Community partnership, one that I think will tie people and programs together in a way that will be a lasting example for not only Albion but many other Midwest communities as well.”