In the words of my father, Sargent Shriver, "the simplest description of the War on Poverty is that it is a means of making life available for any and all pursuers. It does not try to make men good -- because that is moralizing. It does not try to give men what they want -- because that is catering. It does not try to give men false hopes -- because that is deception. Instead, the War on Poverty tries only to create the conditions by which the good life can be lived -- and that is humanism."
I am proud that 50 years later, the fight to attain the good life -- which includes improving access to education, jobs, and health care for those who are less fortunate -- continues through AmeriCorps VISTA.
My father was a key architect of national service organizations, including the Peace Corps and VISTA -- Volunteers in Service to America -- the original domestic antipoverty program. VISTA has since been brought into the AmeriCorps program, a division of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Though the name is now AmeriCorps VISTA, the mission is the same. Since 1965, volunteers work and live in local communities to lift people out of poverty. Today, Save the Children is leading the effort to provide opportunities to adults and children in Appalachia through a partnership with AmeriCorps VISTA.
In the past three years, thanks to the help of AmeriCorps VISTA members, more than 13,000 parents have been engaged to become more active in their children's education, increasing the chances for academic success, postsecondary education, and breaking the cycle of poverty.
AmeriCorps VISTA members are also helping to bridge the digital divide, assisting local efforts to increase computer literacy and learning opportunities to resource and connectivity-challenged rural areas. Our partnership will benefit 1,200 families at 24 schools in six counties in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. This complements the broader 52 member commitment that AmeriCorps VISTA has made to the area called Shaping Our Appalachian Region.
From Appalachia to Baltimore, AmeriCorps VISTA members of all ages and walks of life commit to a year of service with community nonprofits to build their capacity. During the past 50 years, more than 190,000 Americans have served with AmeriCorps VISTA. That is a testament to the vital work of AmeriCorps VISTA, the strength of its network to partner with organizations like Save the Children, and the enduring legacy of my father, Sargent Shriver, to raise people out of poverty.
To learn more about Save the Children, visit savethechildren.org.
To learn more about the impact of AmeriCorps VISTA and the 50th anniversary, visit nationalservice.gov/VISTA50.