National Service Systematic Review and Synthesis of National Service Literature

National Service Systematic Review and Synthesis of National Service Literature
Implementing Organization: 
Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)

This report provides an overview of the full body of empirical evidence on national service as of August 2015, identified through a systematic search and review process.

Key findings of this report include the following:

  • Substantial variation exists in the strength and depth of evidence across the five focus and three impact areas.
  • In education, research shows that highly structured, well-implemented, intensive, one-on-one tutoring models are effective in promoting academic achievement, especially at the early grades and for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Economic opportunity and healthy futures represent two additional areas with a sufficient evidence base to allow tentative observations about the efficacy of selected program models.
  • Environmental stewardship and disaster services both have very limited evidence, leaving considerable room to expand the evidence base.
  • The two domains of member development reviewed contain extensive literature that includes studies employing well-implemented causal designs. In the area of member skills relevant to professional development, national service participation brings substantial benefits to members through the soft- and hard-skills acquired during service, the expansion of social networks, and the clarification of personal goals. In the area of civic engagement, national service programs continue to successfully promote civic engagement as an ongoing part of alumni’s self-identities.
  • In the area of organizational capacity and sustainability, the VISTA program has demonstrated its ability to increase the organizational capacity of host organizations, particularly with regard to strengthening volunteer recruitment.


CNCS Program(s): 
AmeriCorps State and National
AmeriCorps VISTA
AmeriCorps NCCC
Learn and Serve America
Senior Corps
CNCS Focus Area(s): 
Capacity Building
Disaster Services
Economic Opportunity
Environmental Stewardship
Healthy Futures
Age(s) Studied: 
18-25 (Young adult)
26-55 (Adult)
55+ (Older adult)
Outcomes Category(s): 
Disaster Assistance Provided
Financial Literacy
School Readiness
K-12 Success
Post-Secondary Educational Support
Energy Efficiency
At Risk Ecosystems
Awareness of Environmental Issues
Green Jobs
Aging in Place
Obesity and Food
Access to Care
Benefit to National Service Member/Volunteer
Non-profit Development
Study Type(s): 
Review or Meta-Analysis
Study Design(s): 
JBS International
Year Published: 
Date Posted Online: 
January 6, 2016
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