Peter Frumkin, JoAnn Jastrzab, and Margaret L. Vaaler
This study examines for the first time the short-term impact of AmeriCorps participation on members’ civic engagement, education, employment, and life skills. The analysis compares changes in the attitudes and behaviors of participants over time to those of similarly interested individuals not enrolled in AmeriCorps, controlling for interest in national and community service, member and family demographics, and prior civic engagement. Results indicate that participation in AmeriCorps led to positive impacts on members, especially in the area of civic engagement, members’ connection to community, knowledge about problems facing their community, participation in community-based activities. AmeriCorps had some impact on its members’ personal growth and selected employment-related outcomes. Significant impacts were not found for measures of participants’ attitude toward education or educational attainment, or for selected life skills measures. The study also uncovers significant but negative impact of a participation programmatic variant of AmeriCorps on participants’ appreciation for ethnic and cultural diversity.
Inside National Service: AmeriCorps’ Short-Term Impact on Participants
Peter Frumkin, JoAnn Jastrzab, and Margaret L. Vaaler
Bono Made Jesse Helms Cry: Jubilee 2000,Debt Relief, and Moral Action in International Politics
Joshua William Busby
Do states and decision-makers ever act for moral reasons? And if they do, is it only when it is convenient or relatively costless for them to do so? A number of advocacy movements on developing country debt relief, climate change, landmines, and other issues emerged in the 1990s to ask decision-makers to make foreign policy decisions on that basis. The primary advocates were motivated not by their own material interests but broader notions of right and wrong. What contributes to the domestic acceptance of these moral commitments? Why do some advocacy efforts succeed where others fail? Through a case study of the Jubilee 2000 campaign for developing country debt relief, this article offers an account of persuasion based on strategic framing by advocates to get the attention of decision-makers. Such strategic but not narrowly self-interested activity allows weak actors to leverage existing value and/ or ideational traditions to build broader political coalitions. This article, through case studies of debt relief in the United States and Japan, also links the emerging literature on strategic framing to the domestic institutional context and the ways veto players or ‘‘policy gatekeepers’’ evaluate trade-offs between costs and values.
Designing and Testing the Volunteer Program Assessment Tool (VPAT)
Sarah Jane Rehnborg, Dennis Poole, Michael Roemer, Laurel Mangrum, Kathleen Casey and Deborah Duvall
The need to assess the quality of federally or privately funded volunteer and national service programs has become increasingly critical. Experts in the field have recognized this need but lacked scientifically tested instruments to conduct such assessments. To advance knoweldge in this area we developed the Volunteer Program Assessment Tool (VPAT). This research paper describes the methods we used to design and test the full version of the instrument and the screener. To our knowledge the VPAT is the first instrument of its kind to be tested for reliability and validity, and have utility for volunteer program assessments in diverse organizational settings.
Assessing National Service Outcomes: A Multilevel Approach
Margaret L. Vaaler and Peter Frumkin
The present study uses hierarchical linear modeling and a large sample of AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps programs to examine the determinants of national service outcomes at the individual and program levels. We found several demographic variations in civic engagement and trust, tolerance and life skills, including race variations in gains in constructive group interactions and personal behavior in groups post-service. Programmatic characteristics have important influences on AmeriCorps members’ civic engagement, tolerance, and trust post-service. Furthermore, the level of support of members that programs offer is a key component to success of AmeriCorps programs. We conclude that the impact of national service could be improved through a better and deeper understanding of the interaction of individual and program level influences on AmeriCorps members’ outcomes. Successfully managing the recruitment of members and the delivery of quality programs in the future will depend on how well the interactions of individual and program-level determinants are understood.
Hearts or Minds? Persuasive Messages on Climate Change
Joshua W. Busby and Bethany Albertson
What kinds of appeals do the public find persuasive for global causes? Are arguments that appeal to so-called rational self-interest more persuasive than those that appeal to morality? Are mixed messages that combine appeals of self-interest with morality more successful than streamlined single themed messages? The causal mechanisms by which transnational advocacy movements are able to generate political support for their campaigns are poorly specified in the literature in international relations and public opinion. This paper explores the relative persuasiveness of advocacy appeals for the issue of climate change. Using an experimental design, this paper reports the results of survey market research of a diverse sample of 360 subjects, each of whom was assigned to one of four conditions, a control condition with no message appeal, an economic self-interest appeal, a secular moral appeal, and a mixed appeal combining self interest and morality.