Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

The Systems We Lack

What I enjoy most about the Tulane AmeriCorp VISTA program is that I get to connect with people from different cities, engage in service throughout the city of New Orleans, and work at a non-profit that is creating an environment where local businesses can thrive. Participants of this program get free housing, weekly professional development, and support and training at their work site.

It is easy for experiences like this to sound like a dream but while working in the non-profit world you always have to be ready for the unexpected.

One of the systems that I believe we can improve on is our pay system. We need an effective system that will make sure we get paid on time and I believe that we currently do not have it. As a AmeriCorp VISTA, I have committed to living below the poverty line in order to serve. In addition, I made a commitment to do well so that I can build capacity at the site that I have been assigned to in exchange for a living stipend that barely pays all of my bills. I have been affected by a pay system that caused me not get paid on time twice.

So, what do I do when I am not getting paid on time? Do I get mad? Do I just wait? Do I demand that if my money does not come on time, I refuse to work? Do I offer a solution? Do I make known how not getting paid on time has a negative impact on my life for three days as I wait until my paycheck finally decides to come through?

I believe that the pay system that we have been using for the last ten years is not working. This system  is lacking accountability and it is lacking a sense of urgency. Money and time matters because I cannot afford to not get paid on time. While offering cash as a temporary solution may seem decent, for something that has been happening consistently as a solution,  it seems like a cover up to me.



About Brianna Cunningham

Brianna Cunningham is a graduate of Bucknell University. She majored in Sociology & English Literary-Studies. She spent her first year of VISTA at Stay Local and is currently a second year VISTA at NetWork Volunteers.

2 comments on “The Systems We Lack

  1. Jack Styczynski
    January 30, 2017

    Just for some historical perspective, I was a Tulane VISTA when we were still paid directly from CNCS, and we had a 9-day pay delay during a federal government shutdown. Then CPS switched to paying via the Tulane system supposedly to prevent this from ever happening again, but that system resulted in delays too.

    I’m sure it doesn’t make you feel any better, but the pay delays are nothing new, and seems like neither system is foolproof.

  2. Tulane VISTA
    January 29, 2017

    It’s a tough problem you point out Brianna. What might be some solutions to the problem you identify? Can you suggest things that might be done on the program management side and on the individual VISTA side? I can imagine, have experienced, the impact on one’s credit score of a pattern of late payments; it destroys the score. I have designed and implemented credit counseling programs in relation to getting people prepared to be mortgage credit worthy so I have some ideas. I also have administered and evaluated similar public programs and some idea of what could be done to handle the problem on the admin. side. But I want to know how you see the solution approaches.

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on January 27, 2017 by in VISTA Field Reports.



Follow Tulane VISTA Blog on WordPress.com

Follow us on twitter!

%d bloggers like this: