In 2016, AmeriCorps commissioned Mathematica to conduct the Scaling Evidence-Based Models (SEBM) project to gain insights into which AmeriCorps State and National and Social Innovation Fund interventions were effective and potentially ready to scale. This project was designed to generate practical knowledge and insights on the commonalities of effective interventions, and how AmeriCorps might successfully scale effective interventions to benefit more people.
Researchers on the SEBM project developed the Scaling Programs with Research Evidence and Effectiveness (SPREE) process detailed in the SPREE Report to help identify which funded interventions show effectiveness and demonstrate readiness to scale. This report focuses on the SPREE process and how review rubrics applied to AmeriCorps Program Evaluation Reports provide evidence that the SPREE process can be replicated by other funding agencies and grantmaking entities interested in identifying and supporting the scaling of interventions with evidence of effectiveness. This SPREE process was applied to interventions funded from 2015 to 2019 by the AmeriCorps State and National program, and interventions from 2010 to 2015 funded by the SIF.
The goal of the report is to identify the critical components of intervention effectiveness that grantees can scale to produce a wider impact through the SEBM assessment rubric.
The research questions are a part of the criteria applied to each program evidence report AmeriCorps grantees submit to determine eligibility for further review:
- Project objectives
- Did the study use a comparison group in its research design to allow for causal inferences about the intervention's impact?
- Did the study sufficiently describe its research design and statistical approach?
- For example, did the study provide adequate information on the formation of its study groups and the statistical procedures used to gauge the impacts of the intervention?
- Was the study conducted by an evaluator external to the grantee?
- Did the study show consistently favorable findings on the intervention's outcomes of interest?
- Is the intervention assessed in the study aligned to the intervention the grantee plans to scale up?
- Internal validity
- If the study was a randomized controlled trial (RCT), did the study experience high attrition?
- If the study was an RCT, did the study use reassignment?
- For an RCT study that had high attrition or used reassignment or a study that used a quasi-experimental design, did the study demonstrate baseline equivalence?
- Did it show that the intervention and comparison groups in the final analytic sample are similar on a pre-test outcome measure at baseline?
- Does the study have the presence of a confounding factor that makes it difficult to distinguish between the effect of that factor and the intervention, thus making it impossible to attribute any potential impacts solely to the intervention?
This report shares the reviewer developed a two-part rubric for systematically reviewing documents submitted by AmeriCorps organizations that (1) provided evidence of an intervention's effectiveness and (2) described plans for scaling the effective intervention.
- Intervention review section: Reviewers used this first part of the rubric to review the evaluation reports submitted to AmeriCorps by organizations as support for their interventions' effectiveness. In this section, reviewers described the intervention as implemented and evaluated.
- Scaling readiness section: Reviewers used this second part of the rubric to review the scaling plans and application narratives submitted by AmeriCorps organizations. This part of the rubric was designed to understand organizations' planned activities for scaling the interventions with evidence of effectiveness.
For more information, download the Full 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 case study 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 report 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.
- Evidence of Effectiveness in AmeriCorps-Funded Organizations: This report is designed to help inform the agency’s interest in identifying the intervention components that are critical for an intervention’s effectiveness.
- 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.