Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System

Contact Information

UW-Madison Research & Sponsored Programs
21 N Park Street, Suite 6401
Madison, WI 53715 - 1218
(608) 890-4790
FY 2017 National Service and Civic Engagement Research

Executive Summary

Potential of National Service for Social Incorporation

We will study the potential of national service for strengthening the civic infrastructure of a community through alumni and as a new institutional model for young adult social incorporation, i.e., their full participation (civic, economic, social/relational) in local communities and society at large. Insofar as AmeriCorps national service programs (AC) provide opportunities for young adults to develop skills and apply them to public problems, build networks, and access opportunities in local communities, AC may hold promise as a new institutional model for young adult social incorporation. Further, the unique aspects of the Public Allies (PA) national service model may hold particular promise for strengthening the civic infrastructure. The overall goal of our project is to understand 1) how people from different social backgrounds who participated in the PA national service program as young adults accrue social capital and an attachment to the city of service and develop commitments to collective action to solve community problems; and 2) the relationship of those processes to the civic infrastructure of the city. We are collaborating with PA for an in-depth qualitative study of alumni from one site and their relationship to the civic infrastructure. Our research design includes a survey of all PA site alumni and in-depth interviews of alumni who have stayed in that city, current and former PA staff, and key civic informants in the city. A civic convening of PA alumni will provide a platform for sharing findings, gathering data and moving research into application. In analyses, attention will be paid to the practices in programs that positively impact social incorporation and the relationships and processes whereby those impacts occur for young people from different social backgrounds after they have completed national service.

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