National Service Programs Provide a Powerful Return on Investment
WASHINGTON, DC — AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteerism, released the results from four new return-on-investment (ROI) studies that estimate the value of benefits its programs generate per dollar invested. This research evaluates individual AmeriCorps grantees or supported program models designed to improve a range of outcomes for national service members, volunteers, and communities across the nation.
The ROI studies evaluated the cost and benefits of…
- AmeriCorps Urban Safety Program Detroit and estimated an ROI between $1.63 (short term) and $3.07 (long term) per funder dollar;
- Colorado Home Instruction for Parent of Preschool Youngsters Program and estimated an ROI between $0.12 (short term) and $6.77 (long term) per funder dollar;
- Montana Conservation Corps and estimated an ROI between $2.11 (short term) and $35.84 (long term) per funder dollar assuming average ecosystem benefits; and
- Green City Force and estimated an ROI between $0.69 (short term) and $7.60 (long term) per funder dollar.
The benefits unique to each of these programs include reduced costs and increased economic benefits to society from reduced criminal activity in neighborhoods served; additional lifetime earnings for preschool participants in programming resulting from improved education and employment outcomes; benefits to various stakeholders of ecosystem services, reduced wildfire damage, other environmental benefits, and trail access; increased tax revenue for government; additional earnings by AmeriCorps members as a result of increased wages, reduced unemployment, and increased educational attainment post-national service.
“Our data makes it clear that when America calls, AmeriCorps answers,” said Michael D. Smith, CEO, AmeriCorps. “By continuing to support grantees and other programs with evidence-based activities and initiatives, we remain committed to ensuring national service grants bring value to our communities and their members, while increasing equity, innovation, and opportunity every step of the way."
AmeriCorps contracted with ICF Incorporated to research and quantify the return on investment of these programs. Each program relies on national service—specifically AmeriCorps members—as a major resource to deliver services. The analyses conducted consist of three calculations: 1) Total benefits per federal dollar, 2) Total benefits per funder dollar, 3) Federal government benefits per federal dollar.
“AmeriCorps and its grantees have invested significant resources in evaluating different agency programs and supported program models,” said Mary Hyde, Director of Research and Evaluation in AmeriCorps’ Office of Research and Evaluation. “ROI analyses help assess program performance, demonstrate value to stakeholders, and build the evidence base to support decision making.”
There are 16 total ROI studies completed to date which represent the diversity of focus areas of funded programs and models. Each study helps AmeriCorps communicate the value of its programs to relevant stakeholders. They also show that national service not only supports local communities as they pursue tailored, community-level solutions, but that it also generates greater value than originally invested.