Research & Evaluation/Fall 2017

Announcing the 2017 National Service and Civic Engagement Research Competition Awardees

We are pleased to announce that the Office of Research & Evaluation (R&E) awarded its second cohort of grants to institutions of higher education for 2017. The awards support dissertators conducting their Ph.D. research as well as scholars, researchers, and postdoctoral researchers with a proven track record and standing in their respective fields. In 2017, the priority areas included:

  1. Innovative research studies that explore how civic infrastructure and civic engagement, and related concepts such as social cohesion and social capital, are defined, measured, developed, or hindered at the community and neighborhood level.
  2. Research exploring change in an individual’s civic engagement over the course of a lifetime, particularly motivations for becoming engaged, types of civic engagement (informal, formal, or both), and outcomes of civic engagement over the lifetime.
  3. Research studying impacts associated with civic engagement, volunteering, or national service for individuals, families, and communities.

From the 79 eligible applications, R&E awarded 13 grants: four in the dissertator category and nine in the scholar category. The proposed research includes local to national level research and a range of qualitative and quantitative methods such as community-based participatory research. Topics of study include understanding civic engagement among different types of individuals such as youth, seniors, organizations, and communities.

The interest in the grant program has grown. The first competition was held in 2015, and R&E received 52 applications and awarded grants to six scholars and one dissertator. Also, given the importance of the research proposed, in 2017 our program partners  Senior Corps and AmeriCorps State and National  have contributed funds. Grantees are expected to disseminate the results from the studies to inform practitioners, national service programs, and other researchers. 

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Recent Releases in Research

This summer was a busy one for CNCS and R&E. Check out some highlights from the past few months:

  • Senior Corps and Health Benefits: Findings from the first year of the Senior Corps Longitudinal Study, looking at the health effects of Senior Corps service on volunteers and caregivers.
  • Sustaining Evidence-based Work: The eighth in a series of research briefs produced by the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) National Assessment provides insight on how to sustain nonprofit, evidence-based programming after federal funding.
  • AmeriCorps and County-level Wellbeing: UT Austin Population Research Center, a research grantee of R&E, looks at the relationship between AmeriCorps presence and indicators of county-level subjective wellbeing, as measured by language used in Twitter posts.

Sign Up for the Evaluation TA Portal

In February 2017, CNCS launched a free evaluation technical assistance (TA) portal, accessible to all competitively funded AmeriCorps State and National grantees and state commissions with active funding. The TA Portal enables grantees and subgrantees to submit requests for evaluation TA support to address a variety of evaluation needs, including evaluation design, implementation, and reporting. TA can come in a variety of forms: one-time consultations, group consultations, connecting with a topic-area expert, document review, evaluator-to-evaluator technical consultation, or whatever other assistance you may need. 

To access the portal, go to, create a profile, and submit a request. We look forward to assisting you with any and all of your evaluation needs.

Evidence-based Planning Grants

In its 2017 Notice of Federal Funding Opportunity, the AmeriCorps Grant Competition call for applications introduced a new tier of grants: applications for evidence-based planning grants that develop new national service models seeking to integrate members in innovative ways into evidence-based interventions. The purpose of these grants is to identify new evidence-based service interventions in CNCS focus areas that may have less evidence, such as economic opportunity and healthy futures.

CNCS awarded seven evidence-based planning grants this summer. One main distinction of these grants is that they are funded through CNCS’ R&E, which adds R&E support in helping grantees design their evaluation plans, in addition to the support they already receive through the AmeriCorps Program Office.

The grantees include three direct AmeriCorps grantees and four Commission sub-grantees:

  1. Antioch University (direct grantee)
  2. Association of Clinicians for the Underserved (direct grantee)
  3. Campus Compact of the Mountain West (direct grantee)
  4. Children’s Forum (Florida State Commission sub-grantee)
  5. Artesian Community School (Tennessee State Commission sub-grantee)
  6. Appalachian Regional Coalition on Homelessness (Tennessee State Commission sub-grantee)
  7. The National Reentry Network for Returning Citizens (DC State Commission sub-grantee)

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog series featuring these grantees. Please visit our website for additional information about the agency, and its specific programs:

November 2017

The New Learning Management System

We have updated our evaluation core curriculum resources to teach and assist grantees through each stage of the evaluation process, using our new learning management system (LMS). The LMS offers learnings paths that direct how to best take and review course materials based on a grantee’s evaluation stage, evaluation requirement, and/or evaluation capacity. Courses provide presentations, templates, and pre- and post-tests to assess your knowledge on all things evaluation! 

Login and set up an account here: CNCS LMS Login.

Top Downloads

Evidence Exchange: 

  1. Corporation for National and Community Service 2017 State of the Evidence Annual Report
  2. Meta-Analysis of Evaluations across the Social Innovation Fund Program: Final Report
  3. AmeriCorps Alumni Outcomes Study Final Report Brief
  4. National Service Systematic Review and Synthesis of National Service Literature
  5. Issue Brief #7: Scaling Programs & Growing Impact with the Social Innovation Fund

Evaluation Resources:

  1. Planning an Evaluation
  2. Analysis and Reporting Evaluation Results
  3. CNCS Evaluation Policies
  4. The Evidence Continuum
  5. Using Evaluation Results for Action and Improvement