September 1, 2008 | Working Papers

Assessing National Service Outcomes: A Multilevel Approach

Authors: Margaret L. Vaaler, Peter Frumkin

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The present study uses hierarchical linear modeling and a large sample of AmeriCorps members (N = 1,376) and AmeriCorps programs (N = 108) to examine the determinants of national service outcomes at the individual and program levels. We found several demographic variations in civic engagement and trust, tolerance and life skills, including race variations in gains in constructive group interactions and personal behavior in groups post-service. Programmatic characteristics have important influences on AmeriCorps members’ civic engagement, tolerance, and trust post-service. Furthermore, the level of support of members that programs offer is a key component to success of AmeriCorps programs. We conclude that the impact of national service could be improved through a better and deeper understanding of the interaction of individual and program level influences on AmeriCorps members’ outcomes. Successfully managing the recruitment of members and the delivery of quality programs in the future will depend on how well the interactions of individual and program-level determinants are understood.

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