News from ORE: Healthy Futures, Leadership in Action, and Bridging Divides

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June 2019

State of the Evidence: Healthy Futures Brief

Through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and other programs, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) supports vulnerable and at-risk individuals, families, and communities across the country by working with local partners to solve their most pressing challenges and improve the health and well-being of those served. Within the Healthy Futures focus area, CNCS-funded programs prioritize access to health care, aging in place, obesity and nutrition, child maltreatment prevention, and supportive family environments.

The evidence-based programs employ a variety of models and intervention components, including two common service delivery modes: formal education and training (e.g. recreational and sports instruction for youth), and one-on-one support (e.g. individual home visits to deliver parenting support).

Learn more about how CNCS-funded interventions are promoting health and well-being nationwide in the new Effective CNCS-Funded Healthy Futures Programs Evidence Brief.

Now Available: Advances in Community Measurement Methods Webinar

On April 17, ORE hosted the Advances in Community Measurement Methods webinar, where Mary Ohmer, Ph.D, University of Pittsburgh, presented on applying measurement techniques and instruments for community and neighborhood research. Check out the presentation materials and watch the recording on our webinars page.

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Measuring AmeriCorps NCCC’s Impact on Members and Communities

At the Office of Research and Evaluation (ORE), we help CNCS programs such as AmeriCorps and Senior Corps answer important questions: How do CNCS programs impact our members and volunteers? What leadership qualities and skills do they develop? How do they impact beneficiaries or the communities in which they serve?  

Working with an external research team, JBS International, ORE and AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) are kicking off our newest impact studies later this year. We completed a planning phase for the upcoming research, which included collaborating with NCCC field staff, scholars, and experts in the fields of leadership and community development. The team also completed literature reviews, refined logic models, developed a service project database, and designed research instruments and three multi-method and multi-year impact studies on leadership development, retention, and strengthening communities. In the meantime, we continue to hear about members’ and alumnus’ thought-provoking experiences and perceptions. See NCCC Leadership in Action below.

Learn more about becoming a NCCC member or a sponsor.

NCCC Leadership in Action

In this photo, a team leader takes assessment notes from two corps members about cabins at a state park in South Carolina. Park rangers told the team that cabin repairs needed to be done, but did not specify what exactly was to be repaired, how the repairs were to be accomplished, or what the end goals were for each cabin. The team leader stepped in to provide answers to those questions. This is an example of leadership, because in situations like the one described above, with little direction or goals, often little work gets done. However, the team in the photo accomplished a lot on this project. (Daniel Vilinsky, alumni, Southern Campus)

“Leadership is all about a healthy balance. As a team leader, we are taught that we have to wear many different hats, and this level was definitely one of them. It’s easy to say that one must find a middle ground between being professional and being an imperfect human. However, what I’m talking about is less about finding balance for myself as a leader, but helping my team find their balance. When something goes wrong, I am here to adjust and realign the team dynamic. The greatest thing I learned about leadership throughout this past year is that most of the time it means that your work is not applauded or ever even noticed by others. You are not there to be the star of the show, but to be a reliable, available, consistent, calm, and capable resource when chaos and complexity strike, whether that be in the field or at home. And while some may think they can do the job without the level, others know better.” (Emily Callahan, Alumni, Southern Campus; a current MA student in social work, University of Maine)

Research Summit 2019: Save the Date!

ORE is excited to announce we will host our next Research Summit in Washington, D.C. from September 16-17. This year's theme is Bridging Divides, Building Communities, and we have three major goals: 

  • Engage audiences who have a wide array of experiences and expertise, including scholars, community partners, community residents, students, CNCS staff and grantees, policy makers, practitioners, and other federal staff, in a conversation about strengthening communities
  • Create opportunities for shared learning across government, universities, community-based organizations, schools, and other institutions that can be a part of imagining and building vibrant communities 
  • Share knowledge of the ways in which national and community service volunteers are building communities and expanding research and practice in the field of civic engagement

Please plan to join us across the Potomac River at the Crystal City Double Tree in Arlington, VA, and stay tuned for more information about how to register.

Call for Papers and Presentations

We invite you to share your expertise on bridging divides and building communities either as a scholar or a practitioner. Everyone has a skill to share, so we are allowing for a variety of presentation types, traditional papers, multimedia, workshops, and creatively designed posters. Please click here for more information on the types of presentations available and any specific requirements for submission. The deadline for submission is July 22, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. PT.

Pay-For-Success: A Powerful Combination of Evidence and Financing for Improving Outcomes

What is Pay-For-Success (PFS) and how do we know it works? Pay for Success is an innovative approach that ties funding for an intervention to the achievement of measurable outcomes. PFS is designed to increase investment in effective social interventions by changing the way government allocates and invests its resources. PFS projects offers a way to catalyze philanthropic and private sector investments to deliver better outcomes, enabling government or other payors (for example, school districts or hospitals) to pay only for outcomes achieved—that is, to pay only for what works. The use of evidence and evaluation are critical components of this approach. 

From 2014 to 2016, the CNCS Social Innovation Fund awarded 17 grants to support the development and expansion of Pay for Success (PFS) projects and models in the United States. The initial set of grants aimed to provide feasibility analysis and capacity building assistance or support for deal structuring activities for PFS initiatives in three focus areas— youth development, economic opportunity, and healthy futures. 

Later on, grants for administrative data pilots were also provided through this initiative. Third Sector is one of CNCS’s PFS grantees working to improve the lives of underserved families. Its PFS project, the Empowering Families Initiative, is a collaboration with state and local governments that uses a “2GEN” model, providing simultaneous service delivery to children and their parents. The initiative employs an outcomes-oriented approach, intentionally focusing on identifying and tackling local or state government priority outcomes such as increasing the number of children reading at grade level and parents’ employment stability. This initiative uses administrative data from a variety of sources, also known as an integrated data system, to evaluate whether it is reaching its priority outcomes and how it can use the evidence for more effective service delivery.

Third Sector, together with its evaluation partner, Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy, recently launched a series of blog posts that highlight its PFS outcomes-oriented process for delivery of social programs and use of data to inform programmatic decision-making.

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Grantee Spotlight: Carleton College Multi-team Effort Picks up Steam!

In October 2018, Dr. Anita Chikkatur at Carleton College in Northfield, MN, along with staff members of the Carleton Community and Civic Engagement Center and community partners won a Community Conversations research grant with ORE. The objective is to better understand barriers to college access and success for Latinx and Somali students by conducting a community-based participatory research project together.

It has been a busy year with the research teams up and running. The Faribault High School student team was creative and flexible after heavy winter snowstorms kept them from meeting as a group to learn research methods. They came up with a great plan – a spring break research camp! This successful workshop provided the students with concrete tools and information about research and helped them make connections with other like-minded young people invested in working to make their communities better. It was a productive spring break!

The other community research teams of Somali and Latinx parents and staff are also up and running – hosting community gatherings, collecting and analyzing data, and brainstorming action plans for improving the school district. They have conducted appreciative inquiry sessions with parent and student teams for asset mapping to identify talents, skills, and build relationships with each other.

We are all looking forward to hearing more about the research outcomes and action plans to assist students, parents, and Faribault Public Schools.

Image. Faribault High School student team asset map

Faribault High School's student team asset map.

What’s New on the Evidence Exchange            

Check out some of the new resources added to the Evidence Exchange:

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