Research and Evaluation Digest
Mar. 17, 2022
Research and Evaluation Digest:
Identifying Empowering Changes to Promote Civic Engagement in the Cincinnati, Ohio Refugee Community
Researchers, refugees, and community partners have come together to understand challenges faced by the refugee communities and create community changes that would support more civic engagement in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Each year, 200 to 300 refugees typically move to the Greater Cincinnati area. More than half of the incoming refugee population is under the age of 18. In recent years, studies have found that mental health, youth suicidality, neighborhood violence, workplace challenges, and navigating new systems are among the obstacles many in the refugee community face. Civic Action for Refugee Empowerment in Cincinnati was created to identify the root causes of these challenges that refugees face. Findings made by Civic Action for Refugee Empowerment help to inform and improve the lives of refugees and support the empowerment of refugee communities and their capacity to make a positive impact in their neighborhoods.
COVID-19 did not stopped these efforts. Principal investigators, Drs. Anjali Dutt and Farrah Jacquez of the University of Cincinnati, their team of refugee co-researchers, and their community partner, Cincinnati Compass, conducted surveys with nearly 200 local refugees about their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. The surveys identified employment, housing, healthcare, education, and access to food as respondents’ most pressing needs. The teams distributed their findings to local government, health workers, and community organizations to ensure support services equitably included refugees.
Civic Action for Refugee Empowerment developed and implemented a Civic Leadership Program to support refugee integration into community leadership positions. They are working on an “insider’s guide” video series to help refugees across the seven Greater Cincinnati communities’ access available resources.
Webinar Recording: Civic Engagement and Climate Change Mitigation: Exploring Opportunities at the Intersection of Research, Community Participation, and National Service
Available Wednesday, March 23
Under conditions of increasing urgency, the connections between climate change, environmental disasters, and people-powered change may light the way for grassroots solutions to the global climate crisis.
On Wednesday, March 23, AmeriCorps Research and Evaluation will release our latest recorded research webinar with climate experts discussing the importance of local communities and community members becoming active participants and collectively acknowledging their role in the fight against the global climate crisis. Introductory remarks by sociologist Dana R. Fisher, Ph.D., professor at the University of Maryland, who speaks and writes about activism, democracy, and environmental policy. Speakers include AmeriCorps research grantees and the community co-researchers from the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao, the University of Houston, Texas Southern University, and the University of Nevada at Reno. These academic and local experts will focus on civic engagement and climate change mitigation, highlight collaborative, civically engaged programs, and illustrate actionable community-level solutions. For more information, visit our impact webinar page.
AmeriCorps’ “Step Forward: Where Adventure Meets Opportunity” Infographic
AmeriCorps’ mission is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. To ignite volunteerism and participation, AmeriCorps and nonprofit organizations create service opportunities that fit every stage of life based on age, availability, and desired outcomes.
The “Step Forward: Where Adventure Meets Opportunity” Infographic visualizes the advantages of AmeriCorps service. Based on responses from AmeriCorps members and volunteers, the infographic highlights reasons members and volunteers decide to grow with AmeriCorps. Regardless of age or life stage, AmeriCorps participants agree that their service has positive outcomes, including improving career skills, lasting life skills, strengthening communities, bridging differences, and enhancing health and wellbeing.
- 82% of AmeriCorps members said service was a defining professional experience.
- 92% of AmeriCorps members said they could efficiently deal with unexpected events after service.
- 85% of AmeriCorps members felt a part of a community.
- 97% of AmeriCorps members reported a respect for the values of people from different cultures and backgrounds.
- 84% of AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers reported excellent or very good health after service.
The infographic also introduces the upcoming series of memoranda from the Office of Research and Evaluation covering civic engagement, bridging differences, satisfaction with membership, and volunteer experiences based on responses from the 2016-2020 Member Exit Survey.
Return on Investment Studies Factsheet
AmeriCorps works to enhance program efficacy and present a value proposition for local communities, community-based organizations, and governmental agencies. AmeriCorps Office of Research and Evaluation commissioned a series of return on investment analyses to measure program performance and build on the evidence-based supporting future program funding. The return on investment fact sheet is based on the first eight of 16 return on investment assessments from FY20 and FY21. The programs highlighted in the fact sheet include:
- AmeriCorps Seniors: Foster Grandparents/Senior Companion Program
- Birth & Beyond Home Visitation Program
- College Possible’s College Access Program
- Community Technology Empowerment Project
- Return on Investment Study: Birth & Beyond Home Visitation Program
- Return on Investment Study: Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps
- Return on Investment Study: Washington Conservation Corps
- Return on Investment Study: YouthBuild AmeriCorps
The goals of the return on investment analyses is to compare a program’s benefits to its funding costs, help assess program performance, and demonstrate value to stakeholders, including federal, state, and local governments.
2022 AmeriCorps Research Grantee Dialogue
Embracing the Diversity of Civic Engagement: Opportunities for National Service
On May 17-19, AmeriCorps’ Office of Research and Evaluation is hosting the 2022 AmeriCorps Research Grantee Dialogue: Embracing the Diversity of Civic Engagement: Opportunities for National Service. Our annual Research Dialogue is an opportunity to gather our research and evidence grantees to generate discussions on foundational research about measurement and approaches to civic engagement or volunteering.
This year, AmeriCorps research grantees will highlight the various ways that individuals, including refugee communities, African American youth, seniors, and rural and urban populations, are (or can be) civically engaged. Join us as we unveil how these findings can be used to innovate and improve national service programs to increase civic engagement in diverse populations across the country.
What’s New on the Evidence Exchange
Check out the new resources added to the Evidence Exchange:
- Impact Evaluation of the AmeriCorps Urban Safety Program (2018)
- Key Findings from the 2019 Current Population Survey: Civic Engagement and Volunteering Supplement
- Evidence Brief: Effective AmeriCorps-Funded Environmental Stewardship Programs
- 2017 State of the Evidence Annual Report
- Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment: Does Volunteering Increase Odds of Finding a Job for the Out of Work?
- The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research
- Evidence of Effectiveness in AmeriCorps-Funded Interventions
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