Research & Evaluation Newsletter: Winter 2018

See the State of the Evidence Video: “Service by the Numbers”

At CNCS, we engage millions of Americans in service through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Volunteer Generation Fund. We channel our passion for volunteering with a commitment to research and evidence about these programs. This dedication to evidence and evaluation enables us to measure program success and quantify the value of national service, as shown in our State of the Evidence Report. Check out our new State of the Evidence video that highlights key findings from the report, including how CNCS helps improve individuals, organizations, and communities!

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Did You Miss the Opportunity Youth Evaluation Bundling Webinar?

In 2014, the CNCS Office of Research & Evaluation (ORE) and AmeriCorps State and National began evaluating grantee programs that engage opportunity youth (OY) – low-income youth between the ages of 16-24, who are neither in school nor working – as AmeriCorps members. The study, independently conducted by JBS International, bundled 19 AmeriCorps programs into a single, collaboratively designed impact evaluation. Since smaller organizations and nonprofits often lack the resources, sample sizes, and expertise to conduct rigorous evaluations, “bundling” smaller programs together into a single evaluation can help programs attain higher levels of evaluative evidence, more effectively use evaluation resources, promote organizational learning, and build evaluation capacity.

The goal of this bundled evaluation was to assess whether OY who participated in AmeriCorps showed greater improvements in education, employment, and civic engagement outcomes than comparison youth. The webinar presentation drew on lessons learned from this approach – welcoming more than 200 participants – and explored how grant-making organizations can determine if a “bundled” evaluation approach is right for them. Check back in a few weeks to access the webinar materials, and findings from the report are available now. 

New ORE Research Grant Competition: Community Conversations

ORE wants to know how we can help make research meaningful and useful not only for researchers, but also local communities. Our new research grant competition focuses on engaging communities in conversations about their civic health using participatory research approaches to boost civic engagement and strengthen community capacity to address local issues, both of which are central to CNCS’s mission. We are now seeking applications from institutions of higher education to support academics and applied researchers who work with and in local communities to:  

  • Actively engage residents and other local stakeholders in a research process,
  • Identify a local issue of concern to the community,
  • Understand what may facilitate or hinder participation to address the issue, and 
  • Create a collaborative action plan to increase civic engagement and build relationships to tackle the community-identified issue. 

CNCS seeks to support participatory research in three types of communities, with equal priority: communities that are already working collaboratively to tackle a locally identified issue, communities that have experienced a disaster, and communities in social crisis. 

The application is due April 10, 2018, 5 p.m. ET. For more information, click here. Questions about the grant and application process can be sent to

What’s New in Research & Evaluation?

Check out some of the new resources added to the Evidence Exchange since our last quarterly newsletter:


Introducing the New Evidence-based Planning Grants Blog Series!

Last year, CNCS awarded 2017 AmeriCorps State and National Evidence-based Planning Grants to seven organizations. To shine a light on how our grantees develop their own national service programs with a focus on evidence and evaluation, we are following them on their journey from start to finish. In the first blog of the series, we introduce each organization and examine their initial experiences planning their programs. Stay tuned for future blog posts, as we dive deeper into their program development, challenges, how they overcome obstacles, and the research they uncover along the way.

Join Us: The Research & Evidence Webinar Series

Interested in learning about the outcomes and benefits of national service for employment and professional development? Join us on March 21 for our next webinar, where we will discuss this topic with ORE 2015 research grantees Tufts University and Arizona State University.

Title: How Does Participating in National Service Impact Employment and Professional Development?

  • March 21, 2 – 3 p.m. ET


  • Peter Levine, Tufts University
  • Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, CIRCLE, Tufts University
  • Noorya Hayat, CIRCLE, Tufts University
  • Jodi Benenson, University of Nebraska, Omaha
  • David Schlinkert, Morrison Institute, Arizona State University

More details coming soon.