Research About Corps
While studies that determine the effectiveness of Corps programs are not as numerous as we would like, in recent years a growing body of research provides evidence that Corps are effective at achieving many of their goals. Below some of these studies are described as well as their key findings.
Additionally, a recent national survey revealed enormous support among American voters for youth corps in the context of national parks. Of those who responded, 86% were favorable to the idea of expanding the the use of citizen volunteerism and youth conservation corps in the parks.
Conservation Corps Boost Youth Leadership, Community Service and Outdoor Involvement According to 2011 Study
Young people who participate in Conservation Corps exhibit improved leadership skills, community engagement, and environmental stewardship according to a recent nationwide evaluation. The study, conducted by researchers at Texas A&M University, assessed participants from 10 member Corps of the Public Lands Service Coalition against a random comparison group.
Using data collected during the 2011 program season, researchers found that after a season of service, Corpsmembers displayed numerous developmental advantages. These include enhanced leadership and teamwork skills as well as a greater willingness to accept responsibility for personal actions. Intensified engagement with the land was evinced by stronger interest in outdoor recreation. Ninety-five percent of Corps alumni indicate they plan to go backpacking within the next year, versus just 23% of the comparison group. Another 91% of Corps participants plan to purchase outdoor recreation gear within the next year, and to spend substantially more than their nonparticipant peers.
In addition, Corps participants’ interest in natural resource management careers increased during their service, while non-participants’ interest in such jobs actually declined during the same time period.
2011 National Evaluation of Youth Corps Shows Positive Impact of Youth Corps on Education and Employment Levels of Youth
The results of a six year study evaluating the impact of Youth Corps indicate that Corps have a positive impact on employment levels and educational achievement for the young people who enroll. According to the study, “National Evaluation of Youth Corps: Findings at Follow Up,” which was funded by the Corporation for National & Community Service and conducted by Abt Associates Inc., educational enrollment and employment by corpsmembers increased from 50% to 67% over the course of the study.
In addition, the percentage of Corpsmembers possessing a High School Diploma or GED increased from 57 to 82 percent. In other words, 58 percent of those Corpsmembers that enrolled without a high school credential obtained one during their tenure in a Corps. Nearly two thirds of program participants (63.9 percent) said that their participation in a Corps helped them secure a job, and three out of four (77.1 percent) said the Youth Corps experience gave them a job-hunting advantage. Program participants reported extraordinarily high satisfaction rates with nearly 90 percent claiming to be “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with the youth Corps experience.
1997 Abt Associates/ Brandeis University Random Assignment Study Concluded that Youth Service and Conservation Corps are an Invaluable Resource for Young People
According to the study, Corps generate a positive return on investment and the youth involved were positively affected by joining a Corps. The report documents that:
• Significant employment and earnings gains accrue to young people who join a Corps;
Abt Associates documents several factors to which the effectiveness of Corps is attributed: