Policy Studies Associates

Civic Engagement



Reading Partners

Policy Studies Associates has launched an important study of Reading Partners AmeriCorps alumni! Focused on alumni who completed at least one year of service between 2010 and 2018, the study will help Reading Partners deepen their understanding of the quality of the Reading Partners service experience and its effects on their AmeriCorps alumni, including their educational and/or career pathways as well as their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors toward community and civic engagement. PSA is currently surveying the 1,200+ Reading Partners AmeriCorps alumni from all sites and cohorts. Other data collection activities include focus groups with a representative sample of alumni. Study results are expected by winter 2020. Learn more about Reading Partners and the AmeriCorps Alumni Study here.

City Year

PSA has been one of City Year’s research partners for more than 15 years, using quasi-experimental research designs for multiple studies of City Year and its Whole School Whole Child (WSWC) model for national, New York City, and Los Angeles City Year clients.

The City Year Experience: Putting Alumni on the Path to Lifelong Civic Engagement
City Year Parent Study: Exploring City Year’s Impact on Younger Alumni and Their Parents
The Effect of the City Year Experience Over Time: Findings from the Longitudinal Study of Alumni

Edna McConnel Clark Foundation and City Year


Civic engagement is a deeply ingrained American value. One of its components is community service, a popular way of inspiring youth to become active participants in community life. Research on civic engagement is scarce, however, and so, for this literature review, the author examined several bodies of literature, including those on social capital and youth development. The research showed that civic engagement has several characteristics that make it a promising strategy for youth development in that it leads to civic engagement later on in life, promotes youths' intellectual, psychological, emotional, and social outcomes. In addition, programs that teach students the skills of civic engagement and give students opportunities to practice those skills seem to have greater long-term impact than programs that do not emphasize those skills.

Civic Engagement among Youth: A Review of the Literature

W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Academy for Educational Development


PSA evaluated the W.K. Kellogg Youth Innovation Fund for Youth-Directed Civic Action (YIF), a program that establishes youth boards to support innovative civic action projects conducted by young people. Each youth board focuses on a city, county, municipality, or school district, and works collaboratively with a new or existing local consortium of youth-serving organizations. Youth learn about their communities, service-learning, and youth philanthropy by participating in the youth boards. The evaluation looked at the conditions, policies, and supports that are essential to promote the successful establishment and operation of local youth-led boards that award grants for youth-directed civic action as well as the results that local sites foster through the establishment and operation of youth governing boards.

Evaluation of the Youth Innovation Fund—Report on Phase I
Youth Voice in Action: Final Report of the Evaluation of the Youth Innovation Fund for Youth-Directed Civic Action