Graduate Program

Political Science

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion

Summer 2018

Thesis Director

Richard A. Wandling

Thesis Committee Member

Melinda A. Mueller

Thesis Committee Member

Kevin R. Anderson


This study examines the replicability and effectiveness of AmeriCorps VISTA projects in fighting poverty at the state and local levels. AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) is the chief domestic program of the Federal Government's Corporation for National and Community Service. The scope of this study focuses on the seven states that comprise the Corporation's North Central Cluster, (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) and the AmeriCorps VISTA projects that operated in these states due to funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The selected region offers a microcosm of the nation's geographical and political diversity, while the selected time frame demonstrates what AmeriCorps VISTA projects could accomplish at a time of strong federal support. Ultimately, the results of this study are presented from two angles; by project focus and by state, with states ranking on a performance scale from high performing to failing.