Strategic Plan

People—diverse, passionate and committed—make America strong. Through national service and volunteering, Americans from all walks of life contribute to their communities and the nation. Today’s social and economic challenges are complex and require comprehensive, integrated and innovative approaches to shape solutions that work. Engaged citizens are at the center of these solutions.

CNCS empowers and supports Americans to tackle persistent challenges such as helping youth succeed in school, securing safe affordable housing for economically disadvantaged families, or helping communities respond to disasters. Through this work, CNCS achieves its mission of improving lives, strengthening communities and fortifying the civic health of our nation.

CNCS’ five-year Strategic Plan (PDF) leverages the strength of grantees, participants, programs, state service commissions and the American public to build a network of programs that offer effective solutions in the six priority areas: Disaster Services, Economic Opportunity, Education, Environmental Stewardship, Healthy Futures, and Veterans and Military Families. We will produce these results by investing in effective local initiatives, engaging more Americans in service, supporting evidence-based programs, and leveraging public-private partnerships.

The Strategic Plan provides a roadmap for using national service to address critical challenges facing our communities and our nation.It builds on the strong foundation of national service that has developed over the past four decades and the vision set forth in the bipartisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act of 2009. It is the result of a nine-month collaborative effort between CNCS and our network of state commissions, grantees, project sponsors, participants, staff, and the public through which more 1,900 individuals provided input on our strategic direction.

The Strategic Plan includes further details on the specific objectives, strategies and Performance Measures which determine how we will evaluate our success over the next five years.

Our agency-wide Performance Measures include 16 Priority Measures that will tell CNCS’ story of the value and impact of service on communities and the nation. The 16 Priority Measures provide a common focal point for CNCS’ work across all programs and initiatives.

Each CNCS program and initiative – AmeriCorps State and National, VISTA, NCCC, Senior Corps, Volunteer Generation Fund, Social Innovation Fund, Nonprofit Capacity Building Fund, and United We Serve – offers different strengths and capabilities to address local and national priorities.

These agency-wide measures allow us to assess the individual and collective results of programs and continue to enhance program effectiveness. A common set of measures also expands our ability to account for the combined contributions of all of our grantees, sponsors and partners, as well as the state service commissions.

We have the following four strategic goals as the foundation for our Strategic Plan:

Goal 1: Increase the impact of national service on community needs in communities served by CNCS-supported programs

CNCS invests in community programs and projects that achieve outcomes in Disaster Services, Economic Opportunity, Education, Environmental Stewardship, Healthy Futures, and Veterans and Military Families. Going forward, our new investments will focus on achieving a specific set of outcomes in these areas.

Goal 1 Priority Measures

  • Number of individuals that received assistance from CNCS-supported programs in disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and/or mitigation.
  • Percent of economically disadvantaged people that received housing-related assistance from CNCS-supported members, participants and volunteers who showed improvement in their housing situation.
  • Percent of children that demonstrated gains in school readiness.
  • Percent of students served by or serving in CNCS-supported programs that demonstrated improved academic performance (including the percent meeting state proficiency levels in literacy and/or math, or whose scores on state standardized tests improved).
  • Percent of students served by CNCS-supported programs, or engaged in CNCS-supported service-learning, that demonstrated improved academic engagement.
  • Number of at-risk acres (land and/or water) improved by CNCS-supported members, participants and volunteers.
  • Percent of homebound OR older adults and individuals with disabilities that received CNCS-supported services who reported having increased social ties/perceived social support.
  • Number of individuals that gained access to food resources provided with the assistance of CNCS-supported members, participants or volunteers.
  • Number of each of the four categories of service recipients (veterans, veterans' family members, family members of active-duty military, and military service members) that received CNCS-supported assistance.

Goal 2: Strengthen national service so that participants engaged in CNCS-supported programs consistently find satisfaction, meaning and opportunity

CNCS supports the national service network in providing experiences that offer a unique combination of professional, educational and life benefits to service participants. The network also recruits a diversity of Americans, especially those from underrepresented populations. We will collaborate with the national service network to strengthen outreach efforts in underserved communities and to implement best practices that ensure a powerful service experience.

Goal 2 Priority Measures

  • Number of veterans and military family members engaged in providing services through CNCS-supported programs.
  • Percent of service participants engaged in CNCS-supported programs who report having an experience that expands educational, employment or civic opportunities.

Goal 3: Maximize the value we add to grantees, partners and participants

To support our focus on a specific set of community outcomes and a powerful service experience, CNCS will develop a relevant and accessible knowledge base informed by research and rigorous evaluation, and conduct capacity building activities that advance the adoption of best practices.

Goal 3 Priority Measures

  • Percent of organizations that implement evaluations that demonstrate stronger evidence of program effectiveness than in the year prior to receiving CNCS funding.
  • Number of community volunteers recruited and/or managed by CNCS-supported organizations or National Service Participants.

Goal 4: Fortify management operations and sustain a capable, responsive and accountable organization

We will work across programs and enhance our operations to support evidence-based decision making and a culture of performance. We will build upon our current infrastructure to strengthen and enhance our information technology systems, workforce and financial and grants management efforts.

Goal 4 Priority Measures

  • Complete modernization of IT infrastructure.
  • Ensure that no material internal control or compliance issues are identified in annual financial statement audit.
  • Award and close grants and contracts within prescribed timeframes.

Data for the Priority Measures will come from multiple sources, including grantees, sponsors and state service commissions, as well as our internal data sources. Notices of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) and program guidances will identify relevant grantee, sub-grantee and sponsor measures that roll-up into the Priority Measures.

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