Describe your office and what it does in one sentence.
The AmeriCorps Office of Research and Evaluation is responsible for developing and implementing an ambitious learning and evidence building agenda capable of comprehensively addressing the agency’s mission, accommodating agency-wide evidence priorities, and illuminating the agency’s most effective policies, programs, and practices.
Where is your office situated within your agency (department)?
The AmeriCorps Office of Research and Evaluation is located within the office of the Chief Executive Officer.
What programs, policies, or other things does your office evaluate?
The Office of Research and Evaluation is responsible for a portfolio of projects including, but not limited to:
- Program evaluation research projects designed to build evidence for national service programs and build the evaluation capacity of staff and grantees.
- Civic engagement research projects designed to advance knowledge about formal and informal volunteerism and innovate the field of national service.
- Program evaluation research projects designed to improve organizational practices and agency effectiveness.
- Supporting the systematic evidence reviews used as part of the agency’s competitive grant making.
- Evidence dissemination and utilization (‘learning’) projects with a focus on replicating evidence-based programs and practices.
Can you describe a recent evaluation and how you or others in your agency used the results to inform programs, policies, operations, etc.?
Example 1: A five-year research project focused on scaling evidence-based interventions concluded in 2021. The findings from this project were used to create an interactive, virtual tool to help anyone interested in replicating what works Scaling Checklists: Assessing Your Level of Evidence and Readiness (SCALER)|AmeriCorps.
Example 2: The Office of Research and Evaluation sponsors a research grant program designed to improve national service and volunteering practice. Findings from two recent studies on why individuals decide to serve and best practices for managing volunteers will be used to inform the agency’s recruitment and training efforts.
Tell us about an evaluation currently underway that you are excited about?
We have 3 “bundled” evaluations underway right now that will build evidence for grantees focused on opioid recovery, increasing volunteerism, and addressing climate change. The evaluation designs are tailored to the program lifecycles of these initiatives and provide each “bundle” of evaluation participants customized evaluation technical assistance tied to each specific evaluation study.
What are some effective ways that you’ve found to share evaluation results with decision makers in your agency?
We have found that the most effective way to share results and ensure their use is to the extent possible engage decision makers from the beginning. These collaborations on identifying priority information needs before an evaluation is conducted helps ‘ready the audience’ for decisions once results are produced. Distilling key, actionable findings into a briefing with decision makers also creates an opportunity to discuss the findings and answer any questions.
What advice would you give to agencies that are just starting this work or who may be new to evaluation?
- Successful evaluation practice is dependent on an ecosystem of collaborative relationships built on a shared understanding of roles and responsibilities in the evidence building enterprise.
- Successful evaluation practice is dependent on leadership understanding its value and investing in the resources needed to ensure that it will flourish.
Where can readers find more information about your office?
Please visit our agency’s impact page at Our impact|AmeriCorps and please sign up for our newsletter from this same page by clicking on “Get research and evaluation updates”.