In 2014, the top 10 National Direct Grantees (national organizations receiving grants) were YouthBuild National, City Year National, Notre Dame Mission Volunteers, Washington Service Corps, Minnesota Reading Corps, Public Allies National, Health Corps, Teach for America, Habitat for Humanity, and Jumpstart. Five of these organizations focus on youth explicitly, while two (YouthBuild and Public Allies) hire almost exclusively “opportunity youth.”2 Some programs, such as YouthBuild, Public Allies, and PASCO (a regional service corps that engages all of its members in leadership development), intentionally recruit “opportunity youth” and give priority to member development. Other programs that involve youth from marginalized communities in service, such as Wisconsin’s Fresh Start program, vary by state. While these programs receive funding from a diverse array of sources, they, often with supplemental support from AmeriCorps, make up the networked community of service programs that engage
1 This appendix draws on a paper commissioned by the committee titled “Civic Engagement, Volunteerism, and Young Adult Well-Being: Volunteer Work and National Service as Developmental Opportunities for Social Incorporation,” by Constance Flanagan and Victoria Faust. Available online at http://www.iom.edu/youngadults.
2 A 2012 report by Belfield and colleagues coins the term “opportunity youth” to describe young people disconnected from all major institutions who present an opportunity for society to devise new ways to reengage them. Note that the Serve America Act defines disadvantaged youth as out-of-school youth, including those who are unemployed, aging out of foster care, with limited English proficiency, homeless or runaway, at risk to leave secondary school without a diploma, former juvenile offenders or at risk of delinquency, or individuals with a disability.
disadvantaged youth participants in civic opportunities. This appendix summarizes some of the more common youth-focused programs, along with relevant research.
YouthBuild was developed in 1978 in East Harlem (Godsay et al., 2012). It expanded in 1988 to engage low-income youth aged 16-24 across the country in service while delivering educational programming to assist with high school or completion of the General Educational Development (GED) credential (Godsay et al., 2012). The Housing and Urban Development Act of 1992 put YouthBuild in the same ranks as the Peace Corps and Head Start, receiving yearly allocations from Congress (Godsay et al., 2012). Currently, the U.S. Department of Labor provides approximately $73 million to support YouthBuild programs serving around 4,950 youth (DOL, 2014). Some YouthBuild sites, called YouthBuild AmeriCorps, also receive support through AmeriCorps, either through half-time member stipended positions with an education award or just an education award (Tomberg, 2013).
As of 2013, more than 110,000 individuals had participated in YouthBuild (Tomberg, 2013). All members are low income; 94 percent enter without a high school diploma (Godsay et al., 2012); 71 percent are men; 53 percent are African American, 22 percent white, 20 percent Latino/a, 3 percent Native American, and 2 percent Asian American; 32 percent are court involved; and 45 percent have received public assistance (YouthBuild USA, 2014). According to the program’s own statistics, 78 percent of entering students complete the program; of those, 63 percent obtain a high school diploma or equivalent by the time they finish, and 60 percent of alumni are placed in jobs or pursue further education (YouthBuild USA, 2014). In the YouthBuild program model, youth alternate weeks between participating in educational coursework and building housing for low-income and homeless individuals (Godsay et al., 2012). Youth serve in their own communities in contrast with other models, such as City Year, in which “opportunity youth” serve in groups with recruits from other communities (Anderson and Fabiano, 2007).
Core elements of the YouthBuild model are adopted by every site. In contrast to a “youth at risk” paradigm, the program’s theory of change is founded on a belief in the transformative power of love (Godsay et al., 2012). Accordingly, program elements include family-like support and appreciation of members from adults and peers; protection and patient caring for each young person’s development; profound respect for each person’s intelligence, coupled with high standards and expectations for his/her performance; inspiring and caring role models; opportunities for career
and leadership; opportunities for civic engagement; and skill development (Godsay et al., 2012).
YouthBuild also employs a unique approach to civic engagement with many opportunities for leadership and public action. Standard practices in the 12- to 16-month program include advocating for funding, shared governance established through an elected policy committee, team decision making about building projects, and community problem solving (Godsay et al., 2012). At the local program level, investments include staff training in youth and leadership development, staff time incorporating leadership into all aspects of the program, the director’s time and involvement in the program policy committee, creation of leadership skills training, and funds to support leadership opportunities such as Statehouse Days and leadership learning trips (Godsay et al., 2012). In addition, several levels of leadership opportunities exist for program alumni (nationally, the organization devotes more than half a million dollars annually to these leadership pipeline programs). They include the National Young Leaders Council (elected by peers at an annual conference), the National Alumni Council, VOICES (Views on Improving Credential and Education Success) for alumni in postsecondary education, the National Speakers Bureau, and others (Godsay et al., 2012). Finally, in the last few years, YouthBuild has funded staff to mentor and provide support to alumni as they transition out of the program and into the next phase of their lives (Godsay et al., 2012). The U.S. Department of Labor also is funding 1 year of follow-up of alumni (Godsay et al., 2012).
Several studies of YouthBuild have documented its impact from baseline to program completion. Hahn and colleagues (2004) compared YouthBuild participants with high school dropouts who were not in the program. They found increases in youths’ expected life span between the start and end of involvement in the program (Hahn et al., 2004). They also documented an 87 percent employment rate among graduates and a high correlation between how quickly youth found jobs and how much assistance their YouthBuild mentors provided in the search (Hahn et al., 2004). Finally, 7 years after graduating from the program, 75 percent of the graduates participating in this study were either working, in school, or in a job training program; 70 percent had registered to vote, and nearly half had voted in one or more elections (Hahn et al., 2004).
Tomberg (2013) found significant increases in civic outcomes between pre- and postprogram assessments. Specifically, regardless of age, race, or number of hours served, youths’ reports of social trust and community orientations increased, and among 16- to 18-year-olds, there also were significant gains in commitments to service (Tomberg, 2013). Tomberg included 494 staff in her study as well and found that the staff were well versed in the implementation of the YouthBuild model and engaged youth
in wraparound support services, in civic leadership development, and in ways to negotiate service opportunities (Tomberg, 2013).
Others have studied particular elements of the YouthBuild model or groups targeted by specific programs. Concerning the latter, Cohen and Piquero (2010) evaluated the YouthBuild Offenders project and documented reduced recidivism for young offenders who stayed with the program relative to a similar group not enrolled in the program. One retrospective study surveyed 344 alumni and conducted intensive interviews with a subset of 54, all of whom had engaged in one or more of YouthBuild’s alumni leadership pipeline programs (Godsay et al., 2012). Two pathways to becoming leaders were identified. For some it was the result of a steady, incremental feeling of mattering to and receiving social support from staff that enabled them to step up to new challenges. Others identified turning points or transformational experiences. For example, many mentioned the Mental Toughness training module offered early in a YouthBuild program that pushes participants to aim higher, while others cited the Conference of Young Leaders, an intensive, multiday event held in Washington, DC (Godsay et al., 2012).
Established in 1988, City Year was the model on which the current AmeriCorps Program was built (Anderson and Fabiano, 2007). An independent program, its central office and statewide entities combined receive by far the largest National Direct AmeriCorps grant funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) (more than $30 million) (City Year, 2013; CNCS, 2014). City Year members perform service in curricular support, youth leadership development, after-school programs and day camps, health services/outreach, and park renovation/housing restoration, although currently almost all the positions have a focus on educational achievement (Anderson and Fabiano, 2007). A primary goal of the program has always been to promote attitudes and behaviors that alter the civic path of City Year members themselves by engaging 17- to 24-year-olds in social and civic institutions (Anderson and Fabiano, 2007).
In contrast to YouthBuild, which recruits only youth from low-income backgrounds, City Year seeks to establish integrated teams of members from different socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and geographic backgrounds. In 2011, City Year developed a member diversity plan, which included forming strategic recruitment partnerships with African American and Latino/a fraternities and sororities to increase diversity among its members (Dickerson Wynder, 2014). City Year also has joined with the Peace Corps, Teach for America, and the Breakthrough Collaborative (a program focused
on connecting low-income middle school students with college) in developing a Diversity Recruitment Collaborative (Dickerson Wynder, 2014).
In 2007, Policy Studies Associates (PSA) concluded a 5-year, three-part study of the impact of City Year on alumni, which consisted of a mail survey completed by more than 2,189 participants, focus groups with 37 participants, and 20 open-ended interviews with alumni, as well as a telephone survey of the parents and families of alumni (Anderson and Fabiano, 2007). Alumni were categorized into three cohorts—from 1988 to 1993, 1994 to 1998, and 1999 to 2003 (Anderson and Fabiano, 2007).
PSA gathered retrospective accounts of how alumni perceived City Year’s impact on outcomes including their employment, education, civic attitudes, political engagement, leadership, and social capital development (Anderson and Fabiano, 2007). Some of the alumni responses were compared with those of a matched group from the National Election Studies and CIRCLE’s National Civic Engagement Survey (Anderson and Fabiano, 2007).
Two trends in the demographics of program participants were noteworthy. First, between 1988 and 2003 across all sites, the percentage of youth entering with some college remained the same, while the percentage of youth entering with a GED or less decreased, and the percentage of those with a bachelor’s degree doubled (Anderson and Fabiano, 2007). Second, from the first cohort to the last, the percentage of African American participants increased from 25 percent to 35 percent, while the percentage of white participants decreased from 51 percent to 41 percent (Anderson and Fabiano, 2007). Over the entire period of 1988 to 2003, the City Year programs in Boston, Rhode Island, and San Antonio had enrolled the highest number of members with no college experience—each just over 60 percent (Anderson and Fabiano, 2007).
Concerning outcomes reported by the alumni, those who entered the program without a GED were the most likely to report that their experience with City Year impacted their career. In addition, the greater the educational attainment of a participant upon entering the program, the less additional education he/she pursued upon completing the program (Anderson and Fabiano, 2007). In addition, alumni consistently reported that their City Year program had a positive impact on their self-efficacy and sense of egalitarianism. Compared with the national sample of 18- to 40-year-olds, City Year alumni in all racial, ethnic, and educational attainment groups were more likely to participate in organizations, to vote, and to volunteer (Anderson and Fabiano, 2007). The social capital (a combined measure of social trust, political efficacy, egalitarianism, and social and political expression) reported by City Year alumni also was higher than that reported by the national comparison group.
First established in Washington, DC, Public Allies was named a demonstration site for National Public Service in 1992 by President George H. W. Bush and was one of the first programs to receive AmeriCorps funding (Public Allies, 2013a). Public Allies now operates in 21 sites and recruits diverse participants from the communities for a service and leadership development apprenticeship program (Public Allies, 2013a). The program has evolved to a franchise-like model, with central offices providing training and technical assistance on program design to sites around the country and a member leadership development curriculum that includes units on asset-based community development, diversity and privilege, critical thinking, nonprofit management, and teamwork. Among program participants, two-thirds are people of color; 60 percent are female; 50 percent are college graduates; and 15 percent are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Numbers vary for specific sites, with New York hiring approximately 90 percent people of color (Public Allies, 2013c).
Public Allies is relatively unique among national service programs in its focus on alumni engagement and continuing development (although, as noted above, YouthBuild involves some of its alumni in continuing leadership programs). Public Allies hosts a National Leadership Institute conference to share best practices in service and community building, particularly as regards engaging young diverse leadership (Public Allies, 2013b). Alumni are a key feature of Public Allies’ overall recruitment strategy. The organization also has a commitment to diversity in leadership among its own staff.
One mechanism by which Public Allies is able to engage alumni is through its Personal Impact and Service Documentation portal (Goggins-Gregory, 2004). This online portal for data collection and management, developed with technology fellows and an advisory board, has been touted as a model for service programs. It also enables the program to share up-to-date outcomes (Goggins-Gregory, 2004). However, public reporting on member outcomes is not widely studied outside of the organization.
TEACH FOR AMERICA (TFA)
TFA participants commit to teaching for 2 years in a rural or urban school in a low-income community (TFA, 2010). The program, which recruits only those who have completed 4 years of college, aims to reduce educational inequality by placing teachers in these low-income schools. During these 2 years, teachers receive a salary ($24,000-$51,000, depending on the region); health benefits; and other benefits, such as an education award (TFA, 2014).
A retrospective study of TFA was conducted in 2001-2002. Three
groups were compared: matriculants (who completed their 2 years of service), dropouts (who dropped out before completing their 2 years), and nonmatriculants (who completed all of the TFA paperwork but never joined the program) (McAdam and Brandt, 2009). The final sample comprised 1,583 graduates, 324 dropouts, and 634 nonmatriculants (McAdam and Brandt, 2009). Because TFA has never asked applicants for social class information, no such comparisons could be made. However, there were no differences in race/ethnicity and gender among the groups.
The main goal of the study was to test the “transformational” claims of the TFA organization. However, McAdam and Brandt (2009) found that TFA graduates lagged significantly behind the two comparison groups on seven dimensions of civic life—service, civic activity, institutional politics, social movements, voting, charitable giving, and prosocial employment (teaching, working in nonprofits). Note, however, that this finding must be put in perspective as this was a highly civically engaged sample. For example, 92 percent of the respondents across all three groups said they had voted in the last presidential election (almost twice what their peers in the general population reported), so the 89 percent of TFA graduates who reported voting needs to be interpreted in the context of this very high overall rate (McAdam and Brandt, 2009).
McAdam and Brandt offer some plausible explanations for their counterintuitive finding, including temporary exhaustion on the part of recent graduates (and dropouts); negative reactions to TFA; and for many, the isolating nature of the teaching experience (McAdam and Brandt, 2009). Analyses of the dropouts’ experience are especially revealing: not only did their experience leave them disillusioned with TFA, but it also left them with negative views of educational service in general (McAdam and Brandt, 2009). Based on pretest interviews and other information, McAdam and Brandt conclude that five features of TFA placements contribute to a negative experience: urban school placement, lack of support within the school, lack of support from TFA, low sense of efficacy on the part of the volunteer, and disillusionment with TFA (McAdam and Brandt, 2009).
THE CIVIC JUSTICE CORPS
The Civic Justice Corps was a model initially developed through collaborations involving the U.S. Department of Labor, CNCS, the Open Society Institute, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Cascade Center for Community Governance, and The Corps Network (The Corps Network, 2014). At the time, the incorporation of ex-offenders and disadvantaged youth through multisectoral partnerships was an explicit component of the CNCS strategic plan. The program engaged formerly incarcerated or court-involved youth aged 18-24 in community service projects and work
experience, vocational training and academic interventions for skill improvement, and career development (DOL, 2011). Its pilot, implemented by the Corps Network and including wraparound support services and civic leadership development, demonstrated significant reductions in recidivism and increased educational and employment attainment. The U.S. Department of Labor subsequently began administering $20 million for the Civic Justice Corps in 2011 (DOL, 2011). Since then, $30 million in additional funding has been granted to programs that have adopted a similar model, although it is no longer administered under the auspices of the Civic Justice Corps program (DOL, 2012).
AmeriCorps-NCCC is a 10-month, full-time, residential service program for men and women aged 18-24 (CNCS, 2014). Inspired by the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps, the program combines the best practices of civilian and military service (CNCS, 2014). AmeriCorps-NCCC members live and train in teams at five regional campuses and serve nonprofit organizations and government entities in communities across the country (CNCS, 2014). During their service period, members spend considerable time off campus providing services throughout the region, living temporarily in schools or other facilities provided by the community. Some NCCC members also participate in disaster relief efforts, such as flood relief or fighting wildfires. While the Serve America Act authorized the opportunity for NCCC programs to be developed in communities away from campus, these programs have yet to be enacted. However, one of the major new federal interagency partnerships built by CNCS is housed in NCCC. This collaboration places 18- to 24-year-olds with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist with disaster relief initiatives around the country (CNCS, 2014).
The Serve America Act also reinforced an existing goal of NCCC to hire 50 percent of its members from disadvantaged backgrounds (CNCS, 2009). Currently, CNCS and the Congress hold NCCC to a higher burden of proof of such participation relative to any other AmeriCorps program. Of the 2010-2011 class, about 50 percent of youth who served in NCCC had a college degree, and about 70 percent were Caucasian (CNCS, 2011a). In response to the Serve America Act, NCCC developed targeted recruitment strategies to engage youth from disadvantaged backgrounds, including outreach to specific institutions and programs around the country that serve at-risk youth (CNCS, 2011b).
Conservation and Service Corps, or Youth Corps, are a diverse set of programs (really a network) united in their common mission of engaging members, primarily young adults, in a combination of community service, workforce development, and education. Like AmeriCorps-NCCC, Youth Corps builds on the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps (Price et al., 2011). Today, Youth Corps are operated by local community-based organizations and local and state government agencies (Price et al., 2011). While they typically engage in educational, employment and training, and community service activities, there is no single program model. Youth Corps vary a good deal in their organizational structure, type of members targeted, and duration and intensity of participation. They receive support from CNCS, other federal agencies (including the U.S. Departments of Labor, Interior, and Housing and Urban Development), and local and state government and foundations (Price et al., 2011). Some programs receive additional support from fee-for-service projects, in which project sponsors, typically local or state government agencies, provide Youth Corps with direct funding for services.
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