The True North AmeriCorps program (TNAC) is an affiliate of the Duluth Area Family YMCA. TNAC serves economically disadvantaged children in the city of Duluth, Minnesota and three surrounding rural counties. Students who participated received targeted sessions in which the TNAC member provides a variety of formal “check-in” supports characterized by goal-oriented problem-solving and social-emotional skill building as well as informal support in the form of after-school activity participation and homework help.

Study Goals

To examine student scores on the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA), which is a CASEL-aligned social emotional assessment, based on whether a student received TNAC support.

Research Questions

The research questions were:

  1. Relative to students of a similar age and baseline DESSA score, to what extent do end-of-year adult ratings of students served by TNAC members differ from ratings of students not served by TNAC members? 
  2. To what extent does the probability of receiving a composite score in the “typical” range differ between students served by a TNAC member and a matched comparison group?


The evaluation found that: 

  1. There was no meaningful association observed between receiving TNAC support and end-of-year DESSA scores (p = 0.10).
  2. There was a statistically significant and positive increase in the probability of receiving a DESSA composite score in the “typical” rating category among students receiving TNAC support (p < 0.05).
  3. Students who received TNAC support increased their DESSA composite score by an average of 6.1 T-score points while comparison students who did not receive targeted support increased their score by an average of 4.7 points.

Further information

True North AmeriCorps
Implementing Organization
Duluth Area Family Y.M.C.A.
AmeriCorps Program(s)
AmeriCorps State and National
Age(s) Studied
6-12 (Childhood)
13-17 (Adolescent)
Outcome Category
K-12 success
Study Design(s)
Quasi-experimental (QED)
Level of Evidence
National Science & Service Collaborative
Published Year
Study Site Location (State)