Research and Evaluation Digest: Reflecting on #AmeriCorpsWeek2023, Upcoming Research, Research Grantee Spotlights, and more


Research and Evaluation Digest
May 3, 2023

Looking Back on #AmeriCorpsWeek2023

AmeriCorps Week 2023 Collage

Research is about people.

As I reflect on AmeriCorps Week, scrolling through countless images of our people and programs getting things done for America, I am reminded of the why. We are lucky that in our work at AmeriCorps—and perhaps you feel similarly in your own organization—our volunteers and partners are present as constant reminders. Each day, we leverage the power of data to make our collective work excel. Building our research agenda is about understanding the multitude of ways our programming can better bolster vibrant communities, especially as we seek to understand the ways service builds skills and competencies no matter one’s life experiences. Check out these studies:

Service brings out the best in America: It stitches together our community fabric with dynamism, equips and spotlights leaders, and illuminates a path forward for our democracy. By using the tools of research and evaluation, we can make our best go even further. I’m so glad to be on this journey with you.

In service,
Mary Hyde, Ph.D., Director
Office of Research and Evaluation

Exploring the COVID-19 Pandemic’s Effects on AmeriCorps Seniors Volunteers

To improve understanding on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on AmeriCorps Senior volunteers we are conducting a three-year mixed-methods evaluation study with JBS International, Inc. Already the project team has completed a literature review, administrative data analyses, and conducted meetings with working groups of grantees and experts to support the evaluation.

It takes collaboration and communication to conduct an evaluation of this scope and importance. For the project team, that means working with programs to support the evaluation's long-term success. Recently, the team discussed the research with grantees, and they will present at this year’s AmeriCorps Seniors Convening later this month to share what they’ve learned already.

Public Health AmeriCorps Research Kicked Off

AmeriCorps Office of Research and Evaluation kicked off National Public Health Week by preparing for evaluation interviews with Public Health AmeriCorps grantees. The purpose of these interviews with grantees is to gain more insight into the Public Health AmeriCorps program.

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Research Grantee Spotlights

University of Cincinnati - Civic Action for Refugee Empowerment in Cincinnati

Christine Shi_University of Cincinnati

Transformative Impacts of a Civic Leadership Program Created by and for Refugees and Immigrants

As part of their grant, Christine Shi, Anjali Dutt, Farrah Jacquez, and Bryan Wright researched immigrant integration and civic engagement. They investigated outcomes from an immigrant integration program designed to increase immigrants' access to civic engagement through a process that centered the voices, experiences, and wisdom of refugees and immigrants.

University of Maine

Over the past few years, many AmeriCorps Seniors grantees have introduced virtual volunteering options. In a new study funded by a 2022 AmeriCorps Research Grant, Jennifer Crittenden, Ph.D., from the University of Maine is examining the benefits, opportunities, and challenges presented by virtual volunteering for volunteers and their host organizations. The study will include the Foster Grandparent program, RSVP, and the Senior Companion program. To start, Crittenden is interviewing a small number of RSVP grantees this spring and is planning a survey of RSVP stations this summer.

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Looking Ahead: Volunteer Generation Fund Bundle and Recovery Coaching Bundle Research Releases

AmeriCorps partnered with ICF, an independent research firm, on a life cycle evaluation project to conduct a series of implementation and/or outcome evaluations on national service areas of work that have limited evidence, utilizing a methodological approach called bundling. Beyond these evaluations, the project aims to increase the evaluation and evidence building capacity of the participating grantee and/or sponsor organizations for each bundled group evaluation topic by fostering a facilitated peer-learning group.

In June, AmeriCorps will be sharing the findings, lessons learned, and best practices for the Volunteer Generation Fund and Recovery Coaching programming evaluation bundles. Be on the lookout to register for the upcoming webinar titled, "Leveraging Transformative Resources to Meet Community Needs and Ignite a Lifetime of Civic Engagement," to learn more about the Volunteer Generation Fund bundled project. Findings and related public reports will be released on the Recovery Coaching program through the AmeriCorps Evidence Exchange.

Recording Available: "What is Civic Engagement? Exploring New Paradigms"

On Wednesday, March 15, AmeriCorps hosted a webinar to introduce several frameworks that expand definitions of civic engagement and are inclusive to all the activities people engage in to make a difference in their communities. We also shared findings from the longitudinal survey about civic engagement trends in the United States and insights on how civic engagement emerges through local mutual aid efforts. We concluded with a reflection about how national service can contribute to this broader understanding of what counts as civic engagement.

Watch the Recording

Highlights from the Evidence Exchange 

Visit the Evidence Exchange