Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Network Office staff members Jon Stephani and Gerri Stiffarm
Today's a special day for the network office staff because we welcome a new coworker and colleague to work of educating citizens and building community. Gerri Stiffarm joins us today as the Compact's program specialist. She will support the Compact's mission by providing outreach to the member institutions across Montana, including helping with VISTA project development, Ready Campus promotion and training support for our AmeriCorps VISTAs.

Gerri is a graduate of Montana State University's Community Leadership program, and has worked for Aaniih Nakoda College in Fort Belknap, and with Opportunity Link. During her college years, Gerri served as an AmeriCorps member through a Compact program, and helped recruit and coordinate volunteers who served with Hi-Line area nonprofits and social service agencies.

Gerri brings a great depth of knowledge about Montana, as well as a great enthusiasm for the work of volunteerism, service and citizenship. Welcome Gerri, to the Compact's network office team! We are excited to have you.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Montana Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTAs and staff members.
We are excited to bring on a class of fourteen new and continuing Volunteers In Service To America (aka "VISTAs") this July and August. These inspring folks come from here in Montana, nearby and as far away as Louisiana to seek innovative solutions to poverty problems.

The VISTA program is unique in the family of National Service programs because of its explicit charge to move Americans out of of poverty. I like to call it a "older cousin" to AmeriCorps, even though it's officially known as AmeriCorps VISTA now. MTCC's VISTA program engages higher education in this important antipoverty work. Most analagous to a domestic version of the Peace Corps, VISTA is a program that:
  • was created during Lyndon Johnson administration;
  • Include famous alums Ray Magliozzi from Car Talk and Senator Jay Rockefeller;
  • Is approaching its fiftieth anniversary; and
  • focuses on sustainable, community-led solutions to poverty problems;
After Peace Corps in Latvia, I served as VISTA leader with MTCC's very first VISTA project. It was a memorable year getting the project started. MTCC's VISTA program specifically places full-time, year-long volunteers with education and veterans-focused projects. You can read more about this awesome new class of MTCC VISTAs here. We'll have more about the individual projects over the next year.