by Yvonnia Bryant

C4K is a nonprofit organization in Charlottesville, Virginia that provides STEAM-based mentoring and education, and 21st-century skills training to local Charlottesville youth. I chose to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA at C4K for a few reasons: 1) to serve my hometown community 2) to continue to engage myself in a mentoring environment given I had mentored for 2 years during undergrad 3) to gain experience in marketing.

My job as Community Outreach Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA included spending a lot of time developing a digital marketing plan. Prior to joining the C4K team, there was no digital strategy that existed, so creating such a comprehensive plan was necessary to ensure that there was a guide for marketing efforts moving forward.

Serving at a mentoring organization, like C4K, in the midst of the pandemic was not an easy task. Pre-pandemic, C4K was a safe place for young people to come after school to tap into their creativity and exploration through project based learning and mentorship.

When the pandemic hit, C4K immediately transitioned from being an in-person, very hands-on organization to offering completely virtual programming. We continued supporting existing and new mentor-member (this is what we call the youth in our program) pairs, as well as hosting virtual workshops that our members actively participated in. Up until June of this year (2021), most of the staff had been working remotely, stopping by the office every now and then. For me, working remotely was difficult at first because I am a very social person and enjoy engaging with other people; being at home meant the complete opposite.

Although remote work is not my favorite, I can say that I’ve accomplished a lot this year as an AmeriCorps VISTA. I was able to create a digital marketing plan and handbook (which includes social media strategy, email marketing strategy, and blog post & SEO information) and an outreach and communication plan and guide (which includes campaigns of monthly themes and plans that can be replicated). I also conducted community outreach by representing C4K at various events, including a Community Coffee Hour about youth voice and leadership with MENTOR Virginia, a community event for MLK Day, and a community outreach and clean-up event at a neighborhood in Charlottesville.

As I look back on my year as an AmeriCorps VISTA, it could not have been any more perfect besides the pandemic and not being able to engage with our youth members very often. I was able to work with amazing people and make a difference in my own community by building capacity for C4K to engage with all its stakeholders more effectively going forward. Through my work, I helped C4K intensify its commitment to elevating and centering youth voices, and encouraged the development of mentoring relationships that are rooted in reciprocity and social justice principles. 

Congrats to the other AmeriCorps VISTA members who started and ended this journey with me! Post AmeriCorps VISTA, I plan to find another opportunity in marketing.

To learn more about serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA and explore open positions, click here.