Arizona State University

Contact Information

PO Box 876011
Tempe, AZ 85287 - 6011
(602) 496-0327
FY 2015 National Service and Civic Engagement Research

Executive Summary

AmeriCorps is the path some adults choose to build their employment skills, earn an income, and get a job. But, there is scant evidence-based qualitative data that illuminates how these experiences translate into employment outcomes. In addition, there is no data that provides the organizational perspective on employing AmeriCorps members. This proposed study will examine who serves and why, where job opportunities are created and how, how service effects preparation and employment among working-age adults, and how these adults are perceived by organizations. We will also gain a more in-depth understanding of the relationship between AmeriCorps State and National Programs and organizations, how these relationships may influence individual career paths, and how their experiences may vary from the general population.

To accomplish these goals, we are proposing a mixed-methods study. Since the organizational perspective is critical to determining if and how job creation occurred, we will survey approximately 250 organizations that hosted AmeriCorps members from 2011-2015 to determine the hiring status of AmeriCorps members and how other jobs are affected in those organizations in the state of Arizona both inside and outside of the placement setting. Based on these survey findings, three focus groups with organizations that have hired AmeriCorps members, which include non-AmeriCorps host sites, will be held in different regions of the state: Tucson -- a predominantly Latino region; Flagstaff -- a city with a large Navajo population; and Phoenix -- a large metropolitan area. The purpose of these groups is to understand the organizations' perspectives on employment and AmeriCorps members. Specifically, we will examine what factors lead to the decision to hire or not to hire, how AmeriCorps members are perceived, and how their perceptions of AmeriCorps members (i.e., members' skills, knowledge base, and experiences) may vary from the rest of the organizations' staff and other applicants who apply for positions within that organization.

In addition, we will conduct six focus groups with AmeriCorps alumni who have served from 2011-2015 in these same cities to understand their perspectives on employment, career preparation, career goals, and the job search experience. The goal of these alumni groups is to determine what types of conversations AmeriCorps alumni have with the greater business community about AmeriCorps and what their experiences have been with job placement. It should be noted that to test this study's methods, this is a one year pilot study to be held in only one state. This study will be inductive in that we will draw upon the input of advisors with CNCS and recent incoming data from the Alumni Survey to determine what additional questions need to be asked when shaping this study's final focus group questions.

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