America Forward’s Evidence in Action blog series highlights the voices of social innovation organizations, including those in the America Forward Coalition and our network partners, the results-driven solutions our community has to our country’s most pressing social problems, and the evidence-based federal programs that are critical to scaling the impact of this work. Follow along on Twitter using #EvidenceinAction to stay updated on the series.
Compiled by Jessica Crawford
Since 2008, America Forward’s efforts to advance innovation and evidence-based policy have included supporting the growth of national service programs like AmeriCorps, a historically bipartisan, politically popular, cost-effective, and impactful strategy for engaging citizens, strengthening communities, creating jobs, and uniting the nation.
More than 40 percent of America Forward’s Coalition organizations engage AmeriCorps members. Additionally, more than 11,000 public, parochial, and charter schools are supported by national service programs nationwide. A study by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) also showed that unemployed individuals who engage in national service programs are 27 percent more likely to secure full-time employment preparing citizens to enter the workforce and developing them into exactly the kind of employees local companies seek to hire.
The impact of national service must not be left to statistics alone. It requires testimony from those who have benefited from and succeeded as a result of engaging in national service programs. Here are five #EvidenceinAction news stories highlighting the positive impact of national service.
- Public School Superintendents [My Statesman] – “As public school superintendents, we are charged with collectively educating and preparing 120,000 students to succeed…To succeed in our increasingly complex economy, our students must read and write well…Several of our nonprofit partners deploy AmeriCorps members to provide individual and small group work, ensuring disadvantaged students are not left behind…AmeriCorps is both effective and extremely cost-effective. Programs utilizing AmeriCorps members must meet a high standard of quality and evidence ensuring that the investments are worthy of our communities – and each program is locally designed to meet a specific need…Further, all AmeriCorps programs raise dollars locally to match their federal funding, so the community – individuals, family foundations, corporations, and civic groups – provides about half of the cost of delivering needed supplemental educational services to our students.”
- A First-Year Teach for America Corps Member [Teach for America Blog] – “My first experience with AmeriCorps came in 2014, as a member of City Year in Chicago, IL…Working in Chicago left me with the belief that every child deserves a quality education from a teacher who cares. With that belief, I chose to continue in education and join Teach for America – Oklahoma City. For a number of years, there has been a need to fill vacant classrooms in Central Oklahoma. I know that if I could fill even one of those teacher vacancies, I could work to guarantee that at least one class of students would have a consistent and committed educator…Without AmeriCorps, I would not be where I am today. Serving as an AmeriCorps member has helped me realize my passion. Through service, I have made lifelong friends and mentors. Together we’ve been able to form relationships beyond perceived lines of difference, to work together to provide an excellent education for each and every child.”
- A College President [Rivard Report] – “Over the past 23 years, more than 1 million Americans have served their country through the federal AmeriCorps program, providing more than 1.4 billion hours of service to communities and earning $3.3 billion in scholarships to pay for college… Programs like City Year, which is fueled by AmeriCorps, help prepare our future workforce and strengthen our communities by providing students with academic and social-emotional support that helps them stay in school and on track to graduate from high school…At a time when so many Americans need jobs, AmeriCorps programs like City Year also prepare young people for the workforce and helps the unemployed find work…It is my hope that leaders from all sides will agree that national service offers a cost-effective solution for many of the challenges our communities face…”
- A Previously Incarcerated Young Adult [The Post and Courier] – “Before the age of 20, I was sent to jail on drug and gun charges. It was toward the end of my 32-month incarceration that I first…learned about AmeriCorps…upon my release from prison…I became an AmeriCorps member at the Sustainability Institute. I earned professional certifications in home energy efficiency, gained hands-on job experience, and developed skills in communication and teamwork. The money-saving home weatherization services I provided as an AmeriCorps member made a real difference in the lives of elderly and low-income Charlestonians. With every homeowner I helped, I felt a growing reconnection to the community I once hurt…AmeriCorps is what helped me overcome my past and prove my responsibility to society. I built a resume and used my AmeriCorps Education Award money to enroll in college… It’s not just opportunity youth who benefit from AmeriCorps…Across the state, AmeriCorps members at other organizations tutor in schools, feed the hungry, respond to disasters, increase access to public lands, and do much more.”
- An Opportunity Youth [Poughkeepsie Journal] – “It was a scary situation, Dwayne Joyner said. But when he came across a man showing signs of an opioid overdose last week in the City of Poughkeepsie, the 21-year-old knew what to do. Joyner had been trained on how to use naloxone the previous day through the New Directions YouthBuild/AmeriCorps program, and by administering nasal spray he was able to help the man regain consciousness…The New Directions YouthBuild/AmeriCorps partnership program at Nubian Directions offers job training, counseling and leadership development for members of the community, ages 16-24, who are not attending school. Along with job construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing…Jamaican immigrant Jerome Edwards, 23, said he has received not only a certification for administering naloxone but has earned CPR and Occupational Safety and Health Administration certification, as well. ‘If you drop out of school, this could be the program for you,’ he said. They help you with a lot of stuff; new trades, certifications. A lot of kids won’t be in the streets.”
Jessica Crawford is America Forward’s Director of Strategic Partnerships
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