VISTA’s legislative purpose, as defined under the Domestic Volunteer Service Act (DVSA) of 1973, is to supplement efforts to fight poverty in low-income communities by engaging Americans from all walks of life in a year of full time service. VISTA members support the program’s purpose through three primary objectives: 1) encouraging volunteer service at the local level, 2) generating the commitment of private sector resources, and 3) strengthening local agencies and organizations that serve low-income communities. There are currently over 5,000 VISTA members serving in over 1,000 projects throughout the nation.
During the Clinton Administration, VISTA was brought under the newly created AmeriCorps program, a division of the Corporation for National and Community Service, and was renamed "AmeriCorps*VISTA." VISTA members sign up with a host agency to a full-time term of service - 365 days. In return for their service, members are provided with orientation and training, a living stipend calculated at no less than 95% of the poverty line, settling in and transportation costs, child care benefits, and a basic health care plan. Upon completion of their one-year term, VISTA members have the option of receiving $1,200 or an education award of $4,725.