The Office of Research & Evaluation (ORE) supports CNCS’ mission by building knowledge on civic engagement, volunteering, and national service. In addition to conducting in-house research, ORE funds cutting-edge research through competitive grants to academics, applied researchers and dissertators at institutions of higher education. ORE also supports research and evaluation of CNCS programs and grantees. The Research and Evidence webinar series is one way to share the methodological approaches, research designs, and findings from these studies.

ORE recognizes that research and findings need to be understood in order for them to be used. In these webinars, ORE hopes to appeal to various audiences – including scholars and practitioners – and encourages listeners to ask questions and offer comments during webinars.

To suggest potential webinar topics for speakers to present or request additional information, please email

Upcoming Webinars

Stay tuned for information about future webinars.

Past Webinars

Find information and materials from past webinars below. Please note that webinar recordings are best viewed in Chrome, Safari, or Firefox.

Participatory Health Research: Challenges and Approaches

April 8, 2020, from 2-3:00 p.m. ET

Welcome: Andrea Robles, PhD

Introductory Remarks: Mary Hyde Ph.D.


  • Emily Zimmerman Ph.D., Associate Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University, Editor of “Researching Health Together: Engaging Patients and Stakeholders from Topic Identification to Policy Change,” and 2017 CNCS research grantee
  • Michelle Brodesky, Strategic Learning & Evaluation Manager at Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. and CNCS Social Innovation Fund grantee
  • Lisa Wolff, Sc.D., Vice President, Health Resources in Action, CNCS Social Innovation Fund grantee evaluator


How do we bring in stakeholders to actively participate in health research? Patients and stakeholders are increasingly sharing their expertise to direct research priorities and improve research implementation and dissemination. There is a great amount of diversity in approaches to co-producing research, from who initiates research to the roles that patients and stakeholders play throughout the research process. Effective participatory research must overcome a range of challenges, from deciding who ‘represents’ patient and stakeholder views to assessing the impact of stakeholder involvement on research outcomes. We will describe a range of methods that have been used by research teams to engage patients and stakeholders, with a view toward emerging models of engagement and co-production. We will then take a closer look at two methods: the SEED Method for research question development and prioritization, and the Sí Texas partnership-centered evaluation model.

Closing Remarks: Kayla Cranston, Ph.D., Department of Environmental Studies, Director of Conservation Psychology Strategy and Integration at Antioch University, VISTA sponsor

Q&A Discussion: Facilitated by Melissa Gouge, Ph.D.

Materials: Download the webinar materials.

The Arts, Social/Civic Engagement, and Innovation

October 30, 2019, 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. ET

Welcome: Andrea Robles, PhD

Introductory Remarks: Steven Woolf, MD, MPH, VCU Center on Society and Health


The Arts and Community Transformation:

  • Sunil Iyengar, PhD, National Endowment for the Arts: The arts, place, social cohesion, and health equity
  • Patricia Moore Shaffer, PhD, National Endowment for the Arts: Intro to creative placemaking and our town theory of change, focusing on social/community-level changes

Research on the Arts and Civic Engagement:

  • Lynn Osgood, Civic Arts Austin: Forklift
  • Kate Bukoski, East Carolina University: Farmville


What is the significance of placed-based art? What is the relationship between placed-based art and civic engagement and social cohesion? Researchers from the National Endowment for the Arts and a few of their grantees will explore the role of artists, designers, and cultural organizations in transforming communities within cities, towns, and rural places across the country. The focus is on research studies and measurement approaches to understand the relationships between place-based arts projects and civic engagement, social cohesion, and other community-level outcomes.

Closing Remarks: Melissa Gouge, PhD

Q&A Discussion: Facilitated by Andrea Robles, PhD

Materials: Download the webinar materials.

Q&A Session: Connecting Office of Research and Evaluation (ORE) Research Grantees with AmeriCorps NCCC and VISTA Programs

June 18, 2019, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. ET

Introductory Remarks: Dr. Andrea Robles, Research and Evaluation Manager, ORE, CNCS


NCCC Presenters:

  • Tanya Gipson-Nahman, Deputy Region Director for Programming, NCCC Pacific Region
  • Amanda Cochran, Assistant Program Director, NCCC Pacific Region
  • Kevin Anderson, Program Associate (Social Media/Recruitment), NCCC

VISTA Presenters:

  • Craig Kinnear, Program & Budget Analyst, VISTA
  • Melissa McNeily, Program Impact Specialist, VISTA

University of Nevada Reno and NCCC Pacific Region:

  • Dr. Melissa Gouge, Research Analyst, ORE
  • Dr. Jennifer Willet, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Nevada, Reno
  • Tanya Gipson-Nahman and Amanda Cochran


Which CNCS program is the most appropriate for helping your community meet its needs? How can you get started? A number of research grantees are asking for information about our CNCS programs.

Our CNCS programs are excited to discuss how to work with our research grantees and their community partners to implement action plans. Each CNCS program is organized differently and has somewhat different goals, therefore, we decided it would be useful to hear more details about each of the programs, how to become a member or sponsor for each program, and the benefits.

For this first Q&A session, we have asked staff from AmeriCorps NCCC and VISTA to give brief presentations and answer any specific questions you may have.

Closing Remarks: Dr. Melissa Gouge, ORE

Materials: Download the webinar materials.

Advances in Community Measurement Methods

April 17, 2019, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. ET

Introductory Remarks: Dr. Mary Hyde, Director, ORE, CNCS


Mary Ohmer, Ph.D, University of Pittsburgh


One of CNCS’s goals, as well as many other organizations, is to strengthen communities. How do we know the conditions of a community and whether programs are making an impact? In this webinar, attendees will learn about applying measurement techniques and instruments for community and neighborhood research. The presentation will cover how to delve into the methods and measures for community and neighborhood research, including:

  • A framework for understanding the dimensions of community and neighborhood measurement
  • Methods for delineating the community as a unit of analysis and some of the practical aspects of community data collection
  • A case study that participants will work on to delve more deeply into community research problems and questions and identify appropriate measures
  • A discussion of measures used to examine community research topics, including: community capacity and readiness for change; collective action; community connections and processes; empowerment and engagement; resources and resident satisfaction; built environment and healthy living; housing and neighborhood change; disorder, crime and violence; place-based social exclusion; and community wellbeing and quality of life

Closing Remarks: Gina Gross, Acting Director, AmeriCorps NCCC

Materials: Download the webinar materials.

Using Evidence for Scaling Community-based Interventions That Work [Part 3]

February 13, 2019, 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. ET

Introductory Remarks: Dr. Mary Hyde, Director, ORE, CNCS


  •  Lily Zandniapour, ORE, CNCS
  • Anthony Nerino, ORE, CNCS
  • Sadie O'Connor, Reading & Math, Inc.
  • Adam Mauer, Citizen Schools
  • LaVal Brewer, Playworks
  • Lara Dreier, College Possible


CNCS is interested in the scale-up of evidence-based programs in order to use national service to bring effective solutions to communities in need. Since 2016, CNCS has spearheaded an effort to deepen the agency’s understanding of the most effective program innovations, its knowledge base on scaling these programs, and factors that facilitate or hinder scaling. This session will introduce the goals, framework, and process that guide this work and highlight the broader implications. Specifically, this session will have utility for Commissions and grantees interested in evidence-based programming and building readiness for scaling.

Following an overview presentation by CNCS staff, a panel of grantees will discuss their experiences and practices with evidence building and scaling. During a Q&A session, participants will discuss the wider application of this approach.

Closing Remarks: Dr. Mary Hyde, Director, ORE, CNCS

Materials: Download the webinar materials.

The Power of National Service: Improving Children's Literary Outcomes

November 14, 2018, 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. ET

Introductory Remarks: Audrey Suker, CEO, ServeMinnesota


Carrie E Markovitz, Ph.D., Principal Research Scientist, Economics, Criminal Justice, and Society Department at NORC, University of Chicago
Marc W. Hernandez, Ph.D., Principal Research Scientist, the Academic Research Centers; founding Director, the Early Childhood Research and Practice Collaborative at NORC; University of Chicago
Sadie O'Connor, Managing Director, Reading & Math, Inc.


Reading Corps recruits, trains, places, and monitors AmeriCorps members that serve as tutors in school-based settings to implement research-based literacy activities and interventions for struggling readers in PreK through grade 3. As part of the Innovative Approaches to Literacy grant through the Department of Education, NORC at the University of Chicago, in partnership with Reading & Math, Inc., conducted a multi-state impact evaluation of the PreK and K-3 Reading Corps programs in Minnesota, Milwaukee, WI, and Miami, FL during the 2017-2018 school year. While prior independent evaluations have been conducted of the original Minnesota Reading Corps program, this multi-state evaluation assessed the impact of the Reading Corps program model on students in Minnesota, as well as two replication sites in Florida and Wisconsin. This presentation describes the findings from the impact evaluations of the Minnesota Reading Corps Program on Kindergarten through third grade (K-3) students in the state of Minnesota and the Wisconsin Reading Corps Program on Kindergarten and first grade (K-1) students in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In Minnesota and Wisconsin, NORC implemented a randomized controlled trial using a lottery system to randomly assign identified students to either a program (treatment) group, which immediately received Reading Corps tutoring, or a control group, which had to wait to receive tutoring.

Key questions guiding the Reading Corps impact evaluation study include:

  1. What is the impact of Reading Corps on program participants compared to students who did not receive Reading Corps?
  2. Does the impact vary by participant characteristics?

Closing Remarks: Jennifer Bastress Tahmasebi, Deputy Director, AmeriCorps State and National, Corporation for National and Community Service

Materials: Download the webinar materials.

Using Evidence for Scaling Community-based Interventions That Work Webinar

June 13, 2018, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. ET

Introductory Remarks: Lily Zandniapour, Ph.D., Research and Evaluation Manger, and Anthony Nerino, ORE, CNCS


Nan Maxwell, Ph.D., Senior Researcher, Mathematica Policy Research
Scott Richman, Ph.D., Survey Researcher, Mathematica Policy Research


In recent years, policymakers, researchers, and practitioners have expressed a growing interest in using evidence to make investment decisions and grow the impact of community-based solutions that work. CNCS and its grantees have invested significant resources in the design, implementation, and evaluation of interventions to improve a range of outcomes for children, families, organizations, and communities. These efforts have helped the agency identify and support effective community-based interventions.

CNCS is interested in promoting the scaling of interventions that use national service programs, such as AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers, to bring effective solutions to communities in need. As part of that effort, the agency began a multi-year scaling project in 2016 to deepen its understanding of the effective interventions it supports and its knowledge base on scaling them. The process developed by the project contains three critical and interrelated components: (1) identifying effective evidence-based interventions; (2) building a framework based on implementation science research that defines the conditions under which scaling an intervention is likely to be successful; and (3) applying the framework’s conditions for scaling readiness to assess whether organizations are ready to scale effective interventions.

This webinar will provide details on this process and each of the three components. It will also describe the utility of this process for agencies interested in scaling effective innovations, working with programs to build evidence, and develop their readiness for scaling. Finally, it will discuss the role of evidence in funding programs, providing technical assistance, and building the capacity of organizations to benefit from evaluations.

Closing Remarks: Lily Zandniapour and Anthony Nerino

Materials: Download the webinar materials.

AmeriCorps Capacity Building and Financial Effects on Non-profits Webinar

May 23, 2018, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. ET

Introductory Remarks: Lily Zandniapour, Research and Evaluation Manger, ORE, CNCS

Presentation 1:

  • Title: Expanding the Footprint: How Habitat for Humanity Affiliates Expanded Capacity Through the National Service Program
  • Presenters: Daniel Cooper, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Equitable Cities, Adler University; Judah Viola, Ph.D., Dean, College of Professional Studies and Advancement, National Louis University; Bradley Olson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology, Co-Director of Community Psychology Program, National Louis University
  • Abstract: Does hosting AmeriCorps State and National and VISTA members expand Habitat for Humanity (HFH) Affiliates' capacity to serve communities across the United States?  To answer this question researchers conducted a quasi-experimental evaluation for HFH AmeriCorps program and utilized survey data from members during their year of service, program alumni, and affiliates. This research revealed five important findings: (1) national service members increased HFH host site capacity to serve more families by building and rehabbing more homes; (2) members increased HFH host sites' capacity to serve more families by engaging more volunteers; (3) members learned new and transferrable skills; (4) a year of national service provided a pipeline into community development professions; and (5) it successfully connected AmeriCorps members to the local community and the families served.

Presentation 2:

  • Title: Measuring Impact of National Service: Lessons from Research
  • Presenter: Daniel Teles, Research Associate, Urban Institute
  • Abstract: How can we measure AmeriCorps (AC) programs' (i.e., AC State and National, VISTA) impact on nonprofits' capacity and ability to serve communities across the United States? Data collection and standardization can make this possible, but place a burden on nonprofits.  Nonprofits already collect a lot of data for themselves, their donors, their grantors, and the government.  How can the data be integrated so that we can better quantify the impact of national service programs?

Closing Remarks: Bethany Cannon, Specialist, Long-term Volunteer Department, Habitat for Humanity International and Anthony Nerino, Research Analyst, ORE, CNCS

Materials: Download the webinar materials.

How Does Participating in National Service Impact Employment and Professional Development?

March 21, 2018, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. ET

Introductory Remarks: Peter Levine, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Research and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University

Presentation 1:

  • Title: The Impact of National Service on Employment Outcomes
  • Presenters: Peter Levine, Ph.D, Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, Ph.D, and Noorya Hayat, CIRCLE, Tufts University; Jodi Benenson, Ph.D., University of Nebraska, Omaha
  • Abstract: In this webinar, our research team will present findings from a field experiment that tested the effects of listing national service on a job candidate’s application materials (N=1,990).

Presentation 2:

  • Title: AmeriCorps: Transformation through Service
  • Presenter: David Schlinkert, Morrison Institute, Arizona State University
  • Abstract: Morrison Institute’s 2017 will present their findings about how AmeriCorps programming fosters organizational capacity building, job creation, and personal and professional development for AmeriCorps members.

Materials: Download the webinar materials.

Using a “Bundled” Evaluation Methodology to Translate Learning into Action Webinar

January 31, 2018, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. ET


Cheri Hoffman, Ph.D.; Chair, Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs; Director, Children and Youth Policy Division, Office of Human Services Policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Rebecca Frazier, Ph.D., Research Associate, JBS International, Inc.
Linda Cook, Senior Program Officer, AmeriCorps State and National, CNCS


Smaller organizations and nonprofits often lack the resources, sample sizes, and expertise to conduct rigorous evaluations. However, “bundling” smaller programs together into a single evaluation can help programs attain higher levels of evaluative evidence, more effectively utilize evaluation resources, promote organizational learning, and build evaluation capacity.

This presentation will draw on lessons learned from the CNCS’ propensity-score-matched evaluation of 19 AmeriCorps programs serving opportunity youth (16-24 year-olds who are disconnected from school or work). We will explore how grant-making organizations, such as government agencies, foundations, and non-profits, and evaluators can determine if a “bundled” evaluation approach is right for them, and share best practices for implementing this approach.

Materials: Download the webinar materials.

Good for Your Health: Volunteering for Senior Corps

July 26, 2017, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. ET


Dawn C. Carr, PhD MGS, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Faculty Associate, Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy, Florida State University
Annie Georges, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate and Wenson Fung, Ph.D., Research Associate, JBS International, Inc.
Deborah Cox-Roush, Director of Senior Corps, CNCS


CNCS recently launched two longitudinal studies – one sample included volunteers in the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion programs; a second sample included caregivers who receive respite from Senior Companions. This webinar shares findings from both studies, which show the strength of these programs to support overall health of adults and the opportunities to expand and strengthen these programs.

Volunteering is associated with better health outcomes among adults. A previous CNCS evaluation suggested further research is needed to assess the differential impact of national service on health outcomes. The webinar will discuss volunteers’ motivation, experience with training and support, and differential impact on volunteers’ health after joining national service. Results show volunteers are motivated for altruistic reasons whether they persist with the program or not; there are positive effects on volunteers’ health following national service for those who stayed in the program. These positive effects do not appear to be due to healthier individuals staying in the program, as the results show no significant differences in initial health between individuals that left and those that stayed.

The study on caregivers identified three groups of caregivers based on their level or degree of need for respite service using survey responses about expectations and reasons for seeking respite services. Results show most caregivers were satisfied with the respite support from their Senior Companions, and reported the respite support met or exceeded their expectations. There were no differences in the distribution of hours of respite support caregivers received irrespective of their need. However, most caregivers whose needs for respite support were identified as critical reported substantive benefits from receiving these services. The results show improvement in health, especially among those with poorer rating of their health at the time they sought respite support.

Materials: Download the webinar materials.

Linking Civic Engagement and Immigrant Professional Success

June 7, 2017, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. ET


Amy Best, Ph.D., George Mason University (GMU)
John Dale, Ph.D., GMU
Katie Kerstetter, Ph.D., GMU
Samantha Retrosi, GMU

Other PIs: Jim Witte, Ph.D., GMU, Shannon Davis, Ph.D. GMU


The complex and dynamic relationship between professional success and civic engagement among educated immigrant professionals is examined in a mixed-methods project that combines survey data on college- educated immigrants in seven cities in the United States with qualitative interviews with survey participants. In this webinar we report on findings from 70 in-depth interviews with immigrant professionals employed in a diverse range of occupational fields and residing in both small and large U.S. cities. 

We highlight the strengths of our qualitative research for building conceptual scaffolding to understand the dynamic processes through which civic involvement and professional achievement intersect and to deepen understanding of the cultural and institutional mechanisms linking civic participation and professional success. We find immigrant professionals are variously engaged civically; civic engagement among this population is overwhelmingly tied to professional and vocational interests and skills; and professional networks and community ties play an instrumental role in facilitating both professional advancement and civic involvement. Immigrant professionals participate in both formal and informal community-based organizations and groups, and many are transnational in scope, though none of the 70 interviewed report involvement in national service. Immigrant professionals who reported having few community networks, also reported greater professional obstacles.

Materials: Download the webinar materials.

Do National Service Programs Improve Communities?

May 17, 2017, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET


Pamela Paxton, Ph.D., University of Texas-Austin, Population Research Center


Since the creation of Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) in 1964 and AmeriCorps in 1993, a stated goal of national service programs is to strengthen the overall health of communities across the United States. But whether national service programs have such community-level effects remains an open question. In this study, we test for a relationship using a large, quantitative dataset of AmeriCorps State and National, VISTA, and smaller programs across 1,347 counties between 2005 and 2013.

Using data from Twitter we develop a novel measure of county-level subjective well-being across several dimensions. We run a series of linear regressions to get a broad understanding of how five different categories of AmeriCorps programs influence community subjective well-being. Then we assess AmeriCorps as an intervention in communities with a change score model in a subset of counties over time. Finally, we estimate cross-lagged panels to assess the likely interdependent relationship between AmeriCorps programming and subjective well-being. Results from models show that national service programs do improve community-level subjective well-being and that there is an interdependent relationship between national service programs and subjective well-being.

Materials: Download the webinar materials.

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