Sequestration Will Cut Job Training Slots for Youth in America’s Service and Conservation Corps by 25%

A new study conducted by The Corps Network, the national association of America’s Service and Conservation Corps, indicates that sequestration will have a severe impact upon its members and reduce the amount of young people to whom they can offer job training, educational development, and leadership skills.

New Research About the Perceived Benefits of Service in a Corps: a Corpsmember Perspective


Photo taken from the Urban Corps of San Diego Facebook page.
 

Jayne Smith, the former director of Urban Corps of San Diego’s Counseling Clinic, recently completed her doctoral dissertation on the kinds of outcomes Corpsmembers report experiencing after their service in a Corps program (specifically, Urban Corps of San Diego - UCO). Overall, Jayne found that the Corpsmembers in her study had very positive experiences; among other things, they largely reported having learned important skills, learned about themselves, and gained newfound confidence during their service in UCO. 

For her study, Jayne used a qualitative research approach and interviewed 15 former Urban Corps members who graduated between the fall of 2009 and the fall of 2010. This time range was selected to overlap with the time period during which Jayne was employed by UCO, and to allow Corpsmembers a period of time after their graduation to pursue jobs or educational opportunities and reflect on the Corps experience.

As Jayne states, the goal of her study “…was to better understand the Corpsmember process of change and long-term outcomes from the perspective of UCO graduates.” Through collecting over 13 hours of interviews with the 15 graduates, Jayne developed a picture of what Corpsmembers thought about their service in UCO and what they perceived as the personal benefits of such service. Her research also looks at the factors that could potentially affect whether a Corpsmember reported having a positive Corps experience and positive outcomes. The study includes suggestion for ways to develop Corps programs that better serve Corpsmembers and help them attain these favorable results.

Click here to read the full Executive Summary of her dissertation, “A Consensual Qualitative Research Study of the Transformation from High School Dropout to Graduate: Corpsmember Outcomes and Influencing Factors.”

Here are a few of the study’s key findings:   

  • 100% reported learning academic and professional skills, with 14 out of the 15 participants reporting having used such skills post program
  • 93.33% reported “positive attitudinal and behavioral changes across time”
  • 80% reported being employed in at least temporary/part-time jobs
  • 14 out of 15 former Corpsmembers stated that they learned how to be more serious
  • 86.67% reported that they learned not to be afraid to try new things
  • Over 93.33% stated that the Corps staff, teachers and environment were “positive, supportive and caring”
  • “Issues with family, gangs, education, money, personal, education and specific academic organizationswere reported at a decreased frequency while Corpsmembers were in the program.”
  • Participants who compared their experience with UCO with their experience in traditional high schools all reported having more favorable experiences with UCO

Study Finds that Service in Conservation Corps Programs has Numerous Benefits for Participants, Increases Conservation Stewardship

TCN Staff Attend Annie E. Casey Foundation Event on Youth Employment Crisis


On Monday morning, several members of The Corps Network staff attended an event hosted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Patrick McCarthy, President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and an expert panel discussed many of the challenges that young people face in a time of scarce jobs, and the enormous value that programs that help youth can serve. Jamiel Alexander, a member of the National Council of Young Leaders and a representative of YouthBuild USA, introduced a short video.

Our partners at Spark Action have produced an excellent write-up about the event that we recommend. It includes a link to watch a recording of the event in its entirety.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation also released a new report in conjunction with the event titled Youth and Work: Restoring Teen and Young Adult Connections to Opportunity. 

Click here to download and read the full report

White House Releases 2012 America's Great Outdoors Progress Report

Earlier this month the White House released their latest progress report about the America's Great Outdoors Initiative. Corps and the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Initiative received several mentions throughout the report and in quotes from top officials.

But this was the crucial one: "USDA and DOI investments in Youth Conservation Corps programs increased participation by 20 percent this year above 2011 levels." Bravo!

Click here to download and read the full report 

2011 National Conference: Moving the Needle - Making our Case with Data


 

In the Forum’s first stand-alone plenary session, Forum attendees and speakers grappled with the sometimes unpleasant, but crucial reality that organizations must document and demonstrate their impact with data. Two dynamic and expert speakers shared their perspectives on why concrete, measurable results are a necessary complement to anecdotal feelings of success. Patrick Corvington, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (pictured above), said that the current battle the Corporation faced to maintain its federal funding was a perfect example of why data is so important. In short, the Corporation will need to illustrate that its programs achieved clear impacts. 

A memorable highlight of the session came when the 2nd speaker, David Smith, Executive Director of the National Conference on Citizenship, told a story that described how research and data collection could overturn expectations. Smith explained that in one study of single mothers in a community, it was discovered that their #1 desire was not to receive expected supports such as child care. Instead the single mothers said that the most important improvement to their quality of life would come from the control of wild dogs that roamed their community and made it unsafe for their children. It was a good reminder that we must always understand the needs of communities before we attempt to help them.

Young Invicibles Releases New Publication

 

Our friends at Young Invincibles have released a new policy brief titled "Young America Ideas Book: 12 Solutions to Help Get Our Generation Back on Track." You can download the publication here.

A press release from Young Invincibles explains that "These ideas are not designed to be comprehensive solutions, but rather provide concrete, pragmatic steps that our political leaders can take right now to address the economic problems facing young people.  The 12 solutions are based on discussions with young adults across the country, available data, and expert opinion.

Policy ideas include:

    1. Create 500,000 AmeriCorps jobs, so that young adults can serve our country and get valuable work experience.   Last year, 500,000 people applied for 80,000 positions.

    2. Establish the “American Counseling Fellows” program to send 30,000 recent college grads into high schools to assist under-staffed school counselors in career and college counseling; like Teach for America for school counselors.

    3. Require disclosures on all TV college advertisements where schools must publish their employment rates after graduation.

    4. Student loan repayment programs made easy and pumped-up financial aid counseling to help students make good decisions and repay student loans.

Conservation Corps Boost Youth Leadership, Community Service and Outdoor Involvement, Study Shows

 

Editor's Note: this News Release was Originally Published by the Public Lands Service Coalition, of which The Corps Network is a member.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Destry Jarvis
Phone: 540.338.6970

WASHINGTON, D.C.–-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, Corps members 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.

“This evaluation offers further proof that Conservation Corps provide important benefits to public lands and the public good, and we encourage our land management agencies to increase service opportunities for America’s Conservation Corps members,” said Mary Ellen Ardouny, Vice President of External Affairs for The Corps Network, formerly known as the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps.

The Public Lands Service Coalition represents 36 Conservation Corps whose 17,000 members complete crucial maintenance on America's public/tribal lands and waters.

Coalition Members

American YouthWorks • Backcountry Horsemen of America • Calif. Assn of Local Conservation Corps • California Conservation Corps • Campfire USA • Canyon Country Youth Corps • Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia • Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy, Inc • Coconino Rural Environment Corps • Colorado Youth Corps Association • Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa • EarthCorps • Greater Miami Service Corps • Groundwork USA • Los Angeles Conservation Corps • Montana Conservation Corps • National Congress of American Indians • National Parks Conservation Association • National Wildlife Federation • Nevada Conservation Corps • Northwest Youth Corps • Operation Fresh Start • Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (CO) • Sequoia Community Corps • Sierra Club • Southeast Alaska Guidance Association • Southwest Conservation Corps •Student Conservation Association • The Corps Network • The Wellness Coalition • The Wilderness Society • The Y • Utah Conservation Corps • Vermont Youth Conservation Corps •Veterans Green Jobs • Washington Conservation Corps