New Report: AmeriCorps Service Leaves Lasting Impression on Alumni; Improves Education and Career Outcomes
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Alumni of the AmeriCorps program credit their year of service for leadership skills that bridge divides and solve problems and open doors to opportunities that advance their careers and education. These findings come from a new report released by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, which looked at the life and career outcomes reported by a sample of alumni from 2005, 2010, and 2013.
“AmeriCorps members are an indispensable resource for nonprofits, communities, and the individuals they serve,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “This report is further proof of what we already know: national service is equally as rewarding for those who serve. While they serve others, AmeriCorps members also expand opportunity for themselves – gaining skills, experience, and college money to help them jumpstart their careers.”
Alumni reported that serving in AmeriCorps was a positive, meaningful, and often personally and professionally defining experience that instilled a lasting commitment to their community and civic participation.
- Nine out of 10 AmeriCorps alumni reported that their experience improved their ability to solve problems – with eight out of 10 feeling confident that they could create a plan to address a community issue and get others to care about it.
- Nearly 80 percent of alumni are involved or plan to become actively involved in their community post-service, compared to 47 percent prior.
- Eight out of 10 alumni say AmeriCorps benefited and advanced their career path.
- AmeriCorps alumni are more likely to attain a bachelor’s degree or higher than the average adult – with 70 percent of alumni saying that AmeriCorps helped them achieve their educational goals, thanks to the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award received after service.
The report also found a majority of alumni felt more comfortable interacting with others different than themselves post-service, and that AmeriCorps alumni believe their national service experience broadened their understanding of society and different communities. In addition, 94 percent of alumni are registered to vote, well above the national average.
The report adds to a growing body of research that shows service has an effect on more than just the communities served, but also the members themselves. In addition to today’s report, previous research found that alumni gain skills and are exposed to experiences that communities, non-profits, and employers find valuable.
In 2008, CNCS published Still Serving: Measuring the Eight-Year Impact of AmeriCorps on Alumni. This longitudinal study showed that, when compared to AmeriCorps applicants who were not accepted into the program, alumni significantly improved in terms of community and civic participation, leading efforts to address local issues, working with diverse groups, and attaining employment in public-related service.
In 2014, as part of the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps, CNCS launched Employers of National Service, building a talent pipeline, which connects AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumni with leading employers.
Since its inception, more than 350 companies, nonprofits, and public agencies have signed on as Employers of National Service including Delta Air Lines, Disney, Comcast, MasterCard, NBC Universal, CSX, Sodexo, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the American Red Cross, and Habitat for Humanity, the cities of Nashville, Philadelphia, and Phoenix, the states of Montana and Virginia, NASA, and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and State.
Last fall, AmeriCorps celebrated a major milestone when the program surpassed one million members pledging to “Get Things Done” for America. AmeriCorps engages more than 80,000 members in intensive service to serve through nonprofit, faith-based, and community organizations at 21,000 locations across the country, strengthening education, providing disaster services, fostering economic opportunity, assisting veterans and military families, preserving the environment, and expanding health services.
Since 1994, more than 1 million men and women have served in AmeriCorps, providing more than 1.4 billion hours of service and earning more than $3.3 billion in scholarships to pay for college, more than $1 billion of which has been used to pay back student loan debt.
The AmeriCorps Alumni Outcomes Study Survey was developed based on the AmeriCorps Member Exit Survey, with a focus on AmeriCorps members’ growth over four pathways: cultural competency, civic engagement, self-efficacy, and career skills. A total of 3,772 complete responses were received, for an overall weighted response rate of 22 percent. This study also included a secure data match with the National Student Clearinghouse to look at educational outcomes.