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UCF Program Hiring Graduates to Help Local Homeless Children

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By Karen Guin

The television show "60 Minutes" placed a national spotlight on Central Florida last year when it aired two episodes on homeless children in Seminole County.

Now UCF graduates have an opportunity to help these children through a new program hosted by the university's Center for Public and Nonprofit Management.

The center will hire 17 college graduates to work in the national service program known as VISTA, or Volunteers in Service to America. They will work in both Seminole and Orange county organizations that provide services to homeless children and their families.

Each VISTA member will serve full time for one year beginning in August. In return, they will receive expert training, a living allowance, child care if needed and some health insurance. They also will receive an education grant or cash payout after completing their service.

"This is a terrific opportunity for our graduates to serve this population as well as launch a career in public service," said Thomas Bryer, director of the center and assistant professor of public administration.

The center will place five VISTA members in Seminole County Public Schools' Families in Transition program, highlighted in "60 Minutes." Two others will work in the new Family Advocacy Office at Northland, a Seminole County church that supports the SCPS program.

In Orange County, three VISTA members will serve at Orange County Public Schools' Homeless Education office, four will serve at Orange County homeless shelters and one will serve at First Baptist Orlando.

The remaining two VISTA members will hold leadership positions based at the center.

Bryer said the new VISTA members will start with several days of training in Atlanta, followed by training at the center in Orlando that will be ongoing.

"Our staff will prepare the VISTAs to help the organizations with strategic planning, volunteer management, staff training, network development and other areas identified by our community partners," explained Bryer. "This will help build the capacity of the organizations to offer services and support to homeless children."

The center will host the VISTA members with $329,397 a year for three years from the Corporation for National and Community Service. The funding will support three groups of VISTA members, each group working for one year.

For further information about the center-hosted VISTA positions, visit http://bit.ly/ISfBva or write thomas.bryer@ucf.edu.

To apply for one of the positions, visit https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?fromSearch=true&id=45453.

For information about VISTA, visit www.americorps.gov/about/programs/vista.asp. For information about the Center for Public and Nonprofit Management, located in the School of Public Administration, visit www.cpnm.ucf.edu.

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