Volunteer for Dallas

Mike Rawlings needs a few good men and women for Dallas' GrowSouth program

Mike Rawlings needs a few good men and women for Dallas' GrowSouth

Mayor Mike Rawlings is recruiting candidates to join a Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program for GrowSouth, his economic development plan for southern Dallas. The project will hire seven VISTA members to help make a difference in that community.

There's payment involved: VISTA members will receive $983 per month for their work, plus an additional $5,500 educational award, options for health benefits, child care benefits and paid sick leave/vacation.

"Becoming a VISTA member is a chance for people to be a part of building a more caring community, and it is an opportunity to make a real difference," Rawlings said in a release.

GrowSouth is an initiative to guide development toward Dallas' southern sector. It presumes that South Dallas has land and workforce but is missing investment capital. Its efforts include strengthening schools, debunking myths about the area and cleaning up the neighborhoods.

VISTA volunteers will be charged with reinvigorating and inspiring underserved areas of southern Dallas. They'll work on strengthening neighborhood associations and helping develop programs that bring people out of poverty. Throughout one year of service, they will provide critical community engagement training and will recruit volunteers in service to their communities.

GrowSouth target areas include the following:

  • West Dallas
  • Fair Park/South Dallas
  • North Oak Cliff
  • Red Bird
  • Education Corridor/South Oak Cliff
  • Lancaster Corridor
  • Pleasant Grove/Buckner Terrace

Responsibilities include contacting neighborhood leaders once a week; training leaders in effective meeting strategies; attending periodic neighborhood meetings and functions; providing neighborhood leaders with resources they lack such as copies, flyers or strategies for strengthening community leadership; providing computer assistance; and creating a database of neighborhood contacts and resources to assist with GrowSouth.

In addition to assisting neighborhood associations with establishing community development visions and plans, members will interact with the mayor, city manager, executive staff and city council.

Ideal candidates can work independently as well as in a team environment; prior experience in training, community outreach, communications or education is a plus. Desired skills include leadership, analytical decision-making and sound judgment, as well as the ability to juggle multiple projects with competing deadlines and work well with individuals from diverse socio-economic backgrounds.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old, and background checks are required. The positions will start on February 17. The deadline to apply is January 5. Visit My.AmeriCorps.gov or NationalService.org for more information.

Authorized in 1964 and founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965, VISTA was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993. VISTA has been on the front lines fighting to strengthen communities in America for more than 45 years.

Upon completing service, volunteers can choose to receive either a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award or post-service stipend. This is a paid volunteer position; you may not have another paying job. VISTA members commit to serve full time for a year with an opportunity to serve an additional 12 months.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings at 2013 New Cities Summit
Mayor Mike Rawlings' GrowSouth initiative is in the market for candidates. Photo courtesy of New Cities Foundation