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VISTA: Taylor Martin

The first in a series of Q&As with our 2020-21 AmeriCorps VISTA participants

Taylor Martin: StreetCode Academy

Taylor Martin, VISTA

Taylor Martin is from Fresno, California and recently graduated from California State University, Fresno (CSUF) earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology. She is a board member with the Center for Leadership Equity and Research, an organization that supports social justice reform and equity-building in the K-12 public school system. Taylor was also a Humanics Scholar, a CSUF program that trains students in working within local community benefit organizations on nonprofit management, social impact investing, and community-based philanthropic initiatives.

Taylor became an AmeriCorps VISTA member to continue to grow her professional experience within the community benefit sector and to support the growing nonprofit partnerships in higher education. 

What’s the path that led you to the AmeriCorps VISTA program?

I’ve always been particularly interested in the intersection between higher education and community impact! Higher education institutions have always had unique, yet pivotal, roles in creating meaningful change in their respective communities. My prior experiences working within the nonprofit sector and interest in capacity building for community-based organizations led me here. 

What were some of the most important factors in your decision to join the VISTA program?

A major deciding factor when choosing to join the VISTA program was its overall alignment with my future career goals. This program offers me relevant experience related to my goal of working to support private-public partnerships focused on social impact—specifically in the education system.  The opportunities to work autonomously within these organizations through Americorps VISTA’s supportive model has been pivotal in my professional development. 

What does StreetCode Academy do, and how do you support them as an AmeriCorps VISTA?

StreetCode Academy is based in East Palo Alto, and specializes in offering free virtual tech education courses to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) and other underrepresented groups all over the globe. Our courses cover topics in technology, coding, entrepreneurship, and design. My role as a VISTA communications associate and copywriter is to build capacity for their organization-wide communications and write stories to highlight the impact of StreetCode. My main project has been to build out and contribute to a new communications and digital content project management process for the organization’s transition to a virtual workspace.  

What’s a “day in the life” look like for you at StreetCode Academy?

A day in the life of a “work-from-home VISTA” has been unusual, given that this has been the first year VISTAs have had this fully-remote option! 

I start my day by getting on Zoom and checking in with our Operations team to review our tasks for the day. After we review all internal and external organizational communications, I follow up with each department to assign responsibilities to team members to complete communications needs. In addition to my work coordinating communications, StreetCode offers and hosts various events that staff are required to attend, co-host, and/or provide logistical support. 

What are some of the most important skills that you’ve gained from your time as an AmeriCorps VISTA?

I have gained tremendous experience with project management! I feel much more comfortable leading groups and confident in applying for upper-level management positions across industries. I have also developed my public speaking skills by facilitating and co-hosting various StreetCode events with staff. 

What are your career goals and how do you anticipate your work as an AmeriCorps VISTA supporting that career trajectory following your completion of the program?

My current career goals are to design products and initiatives to support equitable education. I want to work with technology companies, nonprofits, and educational institutions to create social change. The VISTA program was instrumental in helping me hone in on developing applicable professional skills in these areas, explore new job titles in areas I never knew about, and establish meaningful relationships with professionals I can work with.

If you have questions about the VISTA program, please contact Paitra Houts.