Serving in Montana

What is Montana Community VISTA Partnership?

Montana Community VISTA Partnership (MCVP) is an Intermediary VISTA program housed within the State of Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. MCVP applies for and manages the AmeriCorps VISTA grant and then partners with organizations, agencies and coalitions across Montana to place VISTAs on projects to alleviate poverty and increase access to housing, food and healthcare resources and improve school readiness. MCVP is an extra level of support for both the hosting organization and the VISTA.


What is CNCS?

CNCS is the Corporation for National and Community Service, which is the federal agency that administers National Service programs, such as AmeriCorps VISTA.


How does VISTA differ from AmeriCorps?

VISTA was started in the mid-60s by President Lyndon B. Johnson, while AmeriCorps was founded by President Bill Clinton in 1993. VISTA is now under the AmeriCorps umbrella. VISTA has an anti-poverty focus, is about capacity building, and requires a full time commitment, with no outside obligations.
AmeriCorps programs tend to lean towards direct service, allow outside employment, and generally don't require a four-year degree for their members. There are also part time AmeriCorps positions, as opposed to the full year obligation of VISTA. Both programs allow for the Education Award or cash stipend upon completion.

Benefits of VISTA Service


What kind of health coverage will I have?

AmeriCorps VISTA members receive a health coverage benefit that mainly covers emergency services, though the prescription coverage is wonderful.  The health coverage provided does not cover pre-existing conditions, therefore, does not meet the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act.  More details, including the Member Health Care Guide, can be found on International Medical Group's website.

Beginning January 1, 2015, VISTA members will have the choice between the existing health benefit provided by Seven Corners (does not meet ACA requirements) or the option to be reimbursed for healthcare expenses up to $7,150 from CNCS.  If you choose that latter, you are required to maintain or purchase your own insurance policy and pay associated premiums out of your own pocket.  The reimbursement covers expenses like co-pays, lab work, prescriptions, etc.

As a VISTA, the living allowance of $1,000/month (as of July 2017) may qualify you for assistance in purchasing health insurance.  Visit HealthCare.gov for more information. 

Do I need to set up a new bank account?

Your living stipend will be issued bi-weekly through electronic deposit. Your living stipend comes from AmeriCorps, so make sure your banking information is up to date in your MyAmeriCorps portal. If you're relocating to Montana, Wells Fargo and US Bank are both here, so you may be able to open accounts in your hometown before you move. You can check their websites for specific locations to see what's available in the community you're relocating to.


Do you have any advice about housing in Montana?

Your best resource for finding housing will be Facebook, Craigslist or the local paper. Most papers have their classified ads online. If you can't find a local newspaper online, ask the site supervisor for advice/hints/tips, as they should be more than willing to help.

A one bedroom apartment will probably run you around $400/month or more, while a two bedroom will probably be around $650/month or more, depending on the community.


Do I really need a car?

While we have had VISTAs without personal vehicles serve on our project, it makes things very difficult. Public transportation generally doesn't exist in Montana, so even simple tasks, such as getting to work or going grocery shopping can become major ordeals. Also, to truly enjoy all that Montana has to offer (hiking, camping, ghost towns, skiing, etc), a vehicle is a necessity.


Will my cell phone work in Montana?

Verizon and AT&T are the only national carriers that officially support Montana. Past VISTAs have had varying degrees of success with Sprint and T-Mobile. Montana is a large rural state, so there will be large portions of the state that do not have coverage, but all of our host site communities will have cell phone service.


What will my workspace be like?

While each work space is different, our site application requires they provide with you access to a phone, computer, and workspace, but this doesn't mean you'll have your own phone, computer, and workspace. Working conditions can vary considerably from cubicles, small closet-like offices, to nice window offices with modular furniture.