Supporting Corps Member Recruitment & Retention: A Partnership that Gets Results
AmeriCorps Alums is making it easier for AmeriCorps programs to recruit and retain Corps members, according to new research. Over the past year, Serve Wisconsin (the Wisconsin State Commission) partnered with AmeriCorps Alums to intentionally connect their portfolio to AmeriCorps Alums resources – and found benefits to corps members, program staff, programs, and the Wisconsin national service community. This partnership built on the findings from AmeriCorps Alums 2014-2015 program evaluation.
According to Tom Devine, former Executive Director of Serve Wisconsin, “Through the partnership with AmeriCorps Alums, staff at 23 AmeriCorps programs and 700 AmeriCorps members were connected to professional resources and support. AmeriCorps programs’ saw an increase in recruitment, completion, and retention. More than anything, the national service movement grew stronger because we’re connecting members to the national service alumni community.”
According to the 2014 – 2015 AmeriCorps Alums program evaluation, a control group of 219 corps members exposed to the “Alums treatment” saw statistically significant outcomes (in comparison to a treatment group separated by geography). The corps members in the treatment group were more likely to*:
- report an interest in returning to AmeriCorps for another year of service;
- know how to use their education award;
- be aware of the resources available to reach their goals;
- be knowledgeable about who to turn to for career advice or support and how to discuss AmeriCorps in interviews;
- feel connected to a network of AmeriCorps members serving across the country; and
- report an interest in pursuing policy issues that were important to them in the future
Then, during the 2015-2016 program year, Serve Wisconsin replicated and scaled Alums’ 2014-2015 evaluation. According to Amy Porter, Program Officer with Serve Wisconsin, “This partnership allows our commission the ability to support program recruitment and retention. These are two areas we always want to spend more time on but have difficulty doing so sufficiently with our limited staff capacity. AmeriCorps Alums helps expand our outreach and support to programs in these important areas.” According to Wisconsin’s internal member survey, Serve Wisconsin found that 1 in 5 currently serving members learned about AmeriCorps through an alum. The partnership with Alums is a long-term investment in growing these recruitment resources, guided by the belief that connected and supported corps members will become connected and supported recruiters for and champions of AmeriCorps.
A key to the partnership’s success, Serve Wisconsin enrolled all 2015 currently serving members into AmeriCorps Alums, so that all currently serving members were introduced to resources, supports, and inspiration from the alumni network. Nationwide, members and alums are not automatically enrolled in AmeriCorps Alums, even if they request enrollment on their exit forms, due to CNCS regulation. Currently, only 10% of alumni are registered with the national alumni association. The partnership between Serve Wisconsin & AmeriCorps Alums bridged the gap between AmeriCorps members and alums, while inspiring continued service, facilitating a community of AmeriCorps supporters and guiding AmeriCorps members into successful careers. According to Kaira Esgate, Executive Director of America’s Service Commissions, “AmeriCorps Alums has created thoughtful, research-informed, & easy to use resources for states and programs to support AmeriCorps staff and Corps members. By making connections to Alums during recruitment and throughout the corps year, we’re building a stronger AmeriCorps community.”
For the 2016 – 2017 AmeriCorps year, AmeriCorps Alums is pleased to have partnerships with the following state service commissions, building on the research-based model: Nevada Volunteers, OneStar (Texas), Serve Wisconsin, and Volunteer Florida. Want to get your AmeriCorps program members connected with AmeriCorps Alums? There are 3 easy ways. For additional information and steps to connect and enroll your members, visit: www.americorpsalums.org/statepartnerships
*Statistically significant at the .05 level