National Service

Designing, Implementing and Evaluating a Successful Program

by Maryann Jacobi Gray, Robert F. Schoeni, Tessa Kaganoff

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The United States has a strong tradition of government-sponsored community, national, and international service; some notable examples are Franklin Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps, Kennedy's Peace Corps, and Johnson's Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA). Now Congress has completed legislation to establish a National Service Program designed to represent "America at its best." Yet even after it becomes law, this latest effort will face challenges. Policymakers will need to take special care with the details of implementation--and assess early efforts closely to identify and correct the inevitable problems. This issue paper identifies some of the most critical challenges, and it suggests an approach to formative program evaluation that will help overcome them.

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