San Antonio Area Foundation program focused on serving and supporting our region’s older adults is significantly expanding thanks to a new federal grant.

AmeriCorps, the federal agency for service and volunteering, awarded the Area Foundation $158,130 – renewable for three years for a total of $474,390 – for eight Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) staff members enhancing the foundation’s Successfully Aging and Living in San Antonio (SALSA) program.

SALSA, a coalition of more than 50 local nonprofits focused on aging, seeks to increase leadership, collaboration and funding to ensure older adults have access to necessary services, information and support networks. The AmeriCorps VISTA grant will cover for a project director and provide stipends for volunteers eager to tackle issues faced by our region’s fast-growing older adult population.

“Our focus is bettering the lives of older adults,” said Sarah Davis, AmeriCorps VISTA Project Director for SALSA, who just joined the organization. “The volunteers coming to us through AmeriCorps will help us expand projects like housing, transportation and caregiver support that impact older adults in our community.”

Besides stipends, VISTAs are also eligible for scholarships to help pay for college, vocational training or to pay back student loans. They will also have the inside track on federal jobs – if they wish to pursue it – upon completion of their service commitment. They will each embed with a SALSA member organization to help with their community work.

“AmeriCorps VISTA provides people power for the nonprofits that are working so hard but need additional manpower,” said Jane Paccione, Area Foundation Managing Director of Collective Impact, who oversees SALSA. “It is a chance for people to find their passion and give back. For an older person, it may be creating a legacy. For a younger person, maybe it’s a springboard into a career.”

U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro, whose district covers the San Antonio region, welcomed the Area Foundation’s growth through new federal funding.

“The San Antonio Area Foundation’s SALSA Initiative is an important home for innovative ideas and programs that help San Antonio’s older adults thrive,” Castro said. “SALSA’s model of collective impact allows organizations from across Bexar County to come together and collaborate on the best ways to give our older neighbors the resources and respect they deserve. I’m very proud to have voted for funding that supports AmeriCorps awards and I look forward to seeing the SALSA Initiative expand with this new investment.”