Understanding America’s Talent Pipeline: Long-Term Outcomes for AmeriCorps Alumni
Today’s guest blog is written by AmeriCorps NCCC alum Diana Epstein (2001-2003). Diana serves as the Senior Research Analyst at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and is a member of the AmeriCorps Alums National Advisory Council (full bio below). This blog was originally published on the CNCS Tumblr blog on March 8, 2016.
The Corporation for National and Community Service recently released a report documenting long-term outcomes for AmeriCorps alumni. It is the first nationally representative study of alumni across programs since the AmeriCorps longitudinal study concluded in 2008. As an alum myself, I was particularly interested in this research because it provides a rigorous assessment of my fellow alumni with whom I share the common experience of national service.
The findings from this research project demonstrate that AmeriCorps alumni have the ability to engage with different kinds of people and thrive in many kinds of environments. These are incredibly important skills in an increasingly diverse country and world. Alums also possess a breadth of workplace skills that make them highly qualified employees across all sectors. With almost one million alumni in the AmeriCorps alumni network, this is a powerful force for getting things done in our country – this year and beyond.
Overall, alumni indicated that there were substantial benefits to participation in AmeriCorps programs and that their service was a defining personal and professional experience. Below, I share findings related to career skills, civic engagement, and cultural competency. At the end of this blog, you can learn more about the report’s methodology which allows us to generalize the results to the much larger population of AmeriCorps alumni.
AmeriCorps alumni are highly skilled and are part of a valuable talent pipeline from service to careers.
- Nine out of ten alumni agreed or strongly agreed that they could solve difficult problems, accomplish goals, handle unexpected events and unforeseen situations, remain calm, and identify multiple solutions.
- Alumni rated their current skills as higher than at pre-service, with the greatest gains in their ability to handle unexpected events and unforeseen situations.
- 80 percent of alumni indicated their service experience was worthwhile in furthering their careers.
Alumni served – and continue to serve – their communities
- 92 percent of alumni stated that they felt they made a contribution to the community during their AmeriCorps service.
- A majority of alumni stated that they were more likely to volunteer and to participate in community organizations due to participation in AmeriCorps.
- Almost 80 percent of alumni indicated that they definitely or probably had civic self-efficacy, defined as the ability to deal with community problems by taking a range of actions.
AmeriCorps alumni also report having high levels of cultural competency and are skilled at working with diverse groups of people.
- Nine out of ten alumni agreed or strongly agreed that they enjoy exploring differences with others, enjoy interacting with different people, respect others’ values, and feel confident interacting with diverse people. Alumni reported gains in all these areas compared to before service.
- 97 percent of alumni rated themselves as excellent or good at working with people different from themselves, and 86 percent of alumni reported that their AmeriCorps experience helped them increase this skill either a great deal or somewhat.
- 87 percent of alumni agreed or strongly agreed that during AmeriCorps they were exposed to new ideas and ways of seeing the world.
- 78 percent of alumni agreed or strongly agreed that during AmeriCorps they learned more about the real world or the rest of the world.
Finally, alumni across programs and cohorts report that serving in AmeriCorps was a defining personal and professional experience.
I urge all alums to review this report and related materials and share the findings with your friends, family, and coworkers. Let’s spread the word about this amazing talent pipeline!
Report Methodology: CNCS partnered with JBS International to administer an online survey to a nationally representative sample of alumni from AmeriCorps NCCC, AmeriCorps VISTA, and AmeriCorps State and National programs. Alumni were sampled from three different cohorts: those who finished their last term of service in 2004, 2009, and 2012, corresponding to 10, 5, and 2 years since the inception of the research project. The data were weighted using both sampling weights and nonresponse weights across programs and years so the results correspond to a nationally representative sample of alumni across the sampled cohorts and programs. This allows us to generalize the results to the much larger population of AmeriCorps alumni.
Author Bio: Diana Epstein, Ph.D. is a senior research analyst in the Office of Research and Evaluation at CNCS. She leads a portfolio of projects that includes the School Turnaround AmeriCorps national evaluation, the redesign and analysis of the AmeriCorps member exit survey, the AmeriCorps alumni outcomes studies, and other efforts to increase the evidence base and effectiveness of national service programs. She served as a Corps Member and a Team Leader in AmeriCorps NCCC and serves on the AmeriCorps Alums National Advisory Council.