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Outstanding National Service Program - The Rural Opportunity VISTA Program
The Rural Opportunity VISTA Program (ROVP) was created by the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM) in 2016. The overall program goal of rural economic opportunity brings vital capacity-building services to rural anti-poverty programs. VISTA members in the ROVP are serving in a variety of projects all of which entail creating or greatly expanding a program. Examples include designing and coordinating a Children's Savings Account program to provide economic support to students for college readiness and using a market approach to fill downtown vacancies that ultimately strengthen the local economy. CEDAM’s ROVP enhances partnering agencies by placing an AmeriCorps VISTA member who can focus on these essential sustainability tasks. The benefit of having a full-time person dedicated to building the organizations' abilities is tremendous and fortifies the organizations that serve Michigan’s rural communities. In the 2016-17 service term, ROVP members completed over 14,000 hours of service. Program accomplishments include greater than 1,600 hours of service leveraged from community volunteers, greater than $100,000 of cash and in-kind resources brought to host site organizations and dozens of new policies, materials, systems and partnerships that are key to successful economic development.