This report is designed to help deepen the agency’s understanding of the most effective interventions it has funded and its knowledge base on issues involved in scaling them. This information will also help inform the agency’s interest in identifying the intervention components that are critical for an intervention’s effectiveness.
The goal of this report is to identify AmeriCorps-funded interventions with evidence of effectiveness. This project defines evidence of effectiveness as rigorous research that has shown favorable impacts on the majority of the targeted outcomes for people receiving the intervention services.
The research questions are:
- What interventions consistently demonstrate evidence of effectiveness for their targeted outcomes?
- Which AmeriCorps-funded interventions demonstrate evidence of effectiveness on participants’ outcomes?
- Among interventions with evidence of effectiveness, what are their characteristics?
- What intervention characteristics demonstrate evidence of effectiveness at a scale that suggests readiness for replication more widely?
- How effective are AmeriCorps interventions with evidence of effectiveness?
- What characteristics of the interventions might be associated with the estimated impacts?
This report found that:
- 39 percent of interventions implemented by grantees given a strong or moderate evidence rating in a systematic evidence review by independent contractors and reviewers for AmeriCorps (other than Mathematica) met the evidence of effectiveness standards developed for this project.
- Among the assessed criteria, the primary reasons that studies did not meet the Mathematica standards were:
- A lack of internal validity that gives confidence that the intervention, and not other factors, impacted intervention participants (46 percent)
- Results that were not consistently favorable (44 percent)
- A lack of a comparison group (40 percent)
- The 32 interventions that met the Mathematica standards fell primarily in the education focus area (56 percent), with 28 percent aligning with the economic opportunity focus area and 16 percent falling under the healthy futures focus area. These 32 interventions were predominately implemented in urban settings (97 percent), although 16 percent were implemented in rural areas. About half (47 percent) were implemented in more than one region of the country, and more than one-quarter (29 percent) had AmeriCorps members involved in delivering services or supporting the delivery.
- Participants in the AmeriCorps-funded interventions meeting the Mathematica effectiveness standards had better outcomes than 61 percent of participants who did not receive the intervention. This represents an 11 percentage point increase in beneficial outcomes. The size of this impact varied by focus area.
- Interventions in the education and healthy futures focus areas increased beneficial outcomes for intervention participants by 9 percentage points, compared to those not receiving the intervention.
- For interventions in the economic opportunity focus area, the impact reached 14 percentage points. The size of the impacts varied by AmeriCorps’ priority objective.
- Interventions aligning with the employability, K–12 success, postsecondary education support, school readiness, and supportive family environments priority objectives had statistically significant positive impacts.
- Impacts did not vary by geographic region, or the use of AmeriCorps members, which suggests that interventions might be equally effective across communities and that AmeriCorps members are as effective as other types of personnel at delivering or supporting the delivery of services.
- Impacts also did not vary by intervention funding year, which suggests that AmeriCorps has year-to-year consistency in identifying interventions supported by rigorous evidence of effectiveness.
For more information, download the report.
Scaling Evidence-Based Models (SEBM) Project
The Office of Research and Evaluation (ORE) initiated the Scaling Evidence-Based Models project to support the scaling of effective interventions. This report is part of ORE’s Scaling Evidence-Based Models project, which includes additional resources that contribute to the study and application of scaling effective interventions. Below are additional scaling resources:
Scaling an Intervention: Recommendations and Resources: The guide provides five key recommendations that will help funders like AmeriCorps, other government agencies, and philanthropic organizations identify which funded interventions are effective, enhance their knowledge base on scaling them, and pursue scaling.
How to Fully Describe an Intervention: This guide is intended to help practitioners to thoroughly describe their intervention and communicate the following to potential funders or stakeholders.
Build Organizational Capacity to Implement an Intervention: This guide will help practitioners prepare to implement their desired intervention through building organizational capacity, which involves establishing the organizational structure, workforce, resources, processes, and culture to enable success.
How to Structure Implementation Supports: This guide will help practitioners develop formal strategies (also known as implementation supports) to help consistently deliver an intervention as it was designed, which is especially helpful for organizations scaling an intervention and assessing implementation fidelity.
Making the Most of Data: This guide will help practitioners maximize the use of their intervention data to help their organizations improve program implementation and provide evidence to funders about effectiveness.
What Makes for a Well-Designed, Well-Implemented Impact Study: This guide is intended to help practitioners ensure that their evaluators produce high-quality impact studies.
Baseline Equivalence: What it is and Why it is Needed: This guide is designed to help practitioners and researchers work together to design an impact study with baseline equivalence and in turn learning how to determine if an impact study is likely to produce meaningful results.
Scaling Programs with Research Evidence and Effectiveness (SPREE): This article focuses on how the foundations can apply the SPREE process and provides insights into conditions that can help identify and support effective interventions that are ready to be scaled.
Scaling Checklists: Assessing Your Level of Evidence and Readiness (SCALER): This guide describes a framework that identifies how organizations can improve both their readiness to scale an intervention and the intervention’s readiness to be scaled, so that intervention services are best positioned to improve outcomes for a larger number of participants. Each checklist in the SCALER provides summary scores to reflect how ready an intervention and organization might be for scaling.
Planned Scaling Activities of AmeriCorps-Funded Organizations: This report presents scaling readiness findings for a cohort of 25 organizations that provided plans to scale interventions with evidence of effectiveness and it examines variations in demonstrated scaling readiness across AmeriCorps funding years.
Scaling the Birth and Beyond (B&B) Intervention: Insights from the Experiences of the Child Abuse Prevention Council (CAPC): This case study describes the scaling of Birth and Beyond (B&B), a parenting education and support intervention designed to reduce child maltreatment, by the Child Abuse Prevention Council of Sacramento (CAPC) and its partners.
Scaling the Reading Corps Intervention: Insights from the Experiences of the United Way of Iowa: This case study describes the scaling of Reading Corps, a literacy intervention designed to improve reading proficiency by United Ways of Iowa (UWI) and its partners.
Scaling the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) Intervention: Insights from the Experiences of Parent Possible: This case study describes the scaling of Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), a home-visiting intervention that seeks to help parents improve their young children’s development, by Parent Possible and its partners.
Scaling Evidence-Based Interventions: Insights from the Experiences of Three Grantees: This report presents insights from a cross-site analysis of process case studies conducted with three AmeriCorps grantees engaged in scaling.