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National Service Agency Announces Winners of National Service and Civic Engagement Research Competition

Oct 19, 2015

Grants will support research to increase understanding and knowledge of national and community service, volunteering, and civic engagement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation of National and Community Service (CNCS), announced $923,000 in research grants from the Office of Research and Evaluation to increase the nation’s understanding and knowledge about the importance of volunteering, national service, and civic engagement in America.

Spencer made the announcement at a higher education roundtable discussion at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Houston.

“The higher education community has been a longstanding partner to national service and shares our passion for encouraging and empowering service and civic engagement to solve community problems,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “We are pleased to partner with these distinguished universities and applaud their commitment to improving our country through continued research on national service and volunteering.”

CNCS is awarding grants to seven higher education institutions to research the economic benefits of national service, volunteering, and civic engagement; develop innovative research methods that can be applied to national service models; and explore relationships among civic engagement, national service, and volunteering. Competition for the 2015 National Service and Civic Engagement Research was stiff, with more than 50 applications submitted from a variety of universities across the country. 

Following are the winners of the research grant competition:

National Latino Research Center - California State University San Marcos (San Marcos, Calif.) – $284,067 grant

  • Civic engagement among Latinos lags far behind White, Asian, and African American counterparts across every form of participation in California and nationally. The goal of the study is to develop methodological and theoretical innovations to help recognize strengths and understand what factors may increase engagement among Latinos.

Case Western University (Cleveland, Ohio) – $156,096 grant

  • A multi-disciplinary team of Case Western Reserve University researchers will evaluate the efficacy of a volunteer-led coaching intervention designed to reduce hospital readmissions. Building on existing efforts to train AmeriCorps members as transition coaches, the research will examine the effects of a randomized volunteer-led coaching intervention on readmission rates, medical costs, and patient satisfaction.

Tufts University (Medford, Mass.) – $143,296 grant

  • The study will explore whether including AmeriCorps service on resumes will increase prospects of employment for AmeriCorps alumni.

University of Texas-Austin Population Research Center (Austin, Texas) – $130,182 grant

  • The project will test new county-level measures of social capital and civic engagement drawn from the IRS, the Census Bureau, CNCS,, and Google and integrate them with existing measures drawn largely from supplements to the Current Population Survey. CNCS, academic researchers, and local politicians, administrators, activists, and citizens will all benefit from a rigorous county-level measure of social capital that can be tracked over time and related to important social, economic, and health outcomes.

George Mason University (Fairfax, Va.) – $98,559 grant

  • This research will focus on the extent to which higher levels of social capital, civic engagement, and volunteering among immigrants are associated with greater economic opportunity and success for individuals and communities. Results will be distributed to policymakers and other constituents via online policy briefs, brochures, and public lectures as well as through academic conference presentations and publications.

Arizona State University (Tempe, Ariz.) – $98,000 grant

  • The study will examine who serves and why, where job opportunities are created and how, how service impacts preparation and employment among working-age adults, and how these adults are perceived by organizations. By studying organizations that hosted or hired AmeriCorps members, this research will provide an in-depth understanding of the relationship between AmeriCorps programs and organizations, how these relationships may influence individual career paths and how their experiences may vary from the general population.

Tulane University (New Orleans, La.) – $12,800 grant

  • The dissertation will study the AmeriCorps program through the lens of a growing economic literature on the interaction between private charitable giving and government funding for public goods. This research will analyze the relationship between the AmeriCorps program and private donations to its nonprofit partners.

This announcement is another example of how CNCS continues to partner with colleges and universities around the nation to meet pressing local needs and expand student engagement in national service and volunteering.  Since the creation of AmeriCorps in 1994, more than 950,000 AmeriCorps members have earned more than $3 billion in education scholarships in exchange for their service.  More than 150 colleges and universities sponsor AmeriCorps programs.  Since 2006, the agency has administered the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which annually highlights the role colleges and universities play in solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement.  

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Samantha Jo Warfield
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