National Evaluation of Youth Corps: Findings at Follow-up

Prepared for the Corporation for National and Community Service

This study of youth corps used an experimental design in order to compare the experiences of youth corps members with those of similar individuals who applied to the program over the same time period (June 2006 through July 2007) but who were randomly assigned to a control group. The study team used a two stage process to create a sample for the study.

by Abt Associates, Inc.

The Need for an Updated Youth Corps Evaluation

In 1996 a rigorous random assignment study of the Conservation and Youth Service Corps was completed for the Corporation’s predecessor organization, the Commission for National and Community Service. That study included (1) participant impact analyses, (2) community impact analyses, and (3) cost-benefit analyses. The community impact component reported high levels of satisfaction with, and perceived quality of life improvements from receipt of, the services provided by the corps. Few positive impacts on corpsmembers were found for the corpsmember group as a whole, but significant impacts were reported for particular subgroups, especially African American males. For the corpsmember group as a whole, there were no significant impacts on 37 out of 41 outcome measures in the areas of education, employment, earnings, and personal and social responsibility. There were significant positive impacts on hours worked (including time spent in the corps) and the likelihood of having worked for pay (including paying work within the corps), and there was a significant decreased likelihood of having been arrested. However, youth corps corpsmembers were also less likely to have earned a technical certificate or diploma within the study period.

In 2005, the Corporation contracted with Abt Associates Inc., in partnership with The Corps Network and ORC, an Infogroup company, to conduct a new evaluation of youth corps. The reasoning behind this new study was three-fold. First, the Corporation, along with The Corps Network, wanted updated findings on the impact of youth corps programs on corpsmembers. The findings from the 1996 study were perceived as “dated” and, according to The Corps Network, youth corps programming had changed enough since the 1996 study to warrant a new study. Second, since the earlier youth corps report, researchers have developed a more comprehensive set of outcome measures for evaluations of youth development as well as for evaluations of civic and volunteer programs, as reflected in the 2001 AmeriCorps Longitudinal Study (Jastrzab et al. 2007). Specifically, many of the outcome domains utilized in this study were developed and proved reliable in the 2001 AmeriCorps study. Because the 1996 youth corps study had a very limited set of outcome measures, the Corporation was interested in expanding the outcomes assessed for youth corps in this new study. Third, the Corporation’s Office of Strategy and Special Initiatives was interested in conducting randomized control trials and held a competition for contractors to propose random assignment studies of service programs; Abt Associates, in collaboration with The Corps Network, proposed the updated youth corps impact evaluation and the Corporation subsequently commissioned this study.

Attached document published June 2011

About the Author


Abt Associates uses data and bold thinking to improve the quality of people’s lives worldwide. We partner with clients and communities to tackle their most complex challenges.

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