The Impact of Participation in Service-Learning on High School Students’ Civic Engagement
RMC Research Corp.
Youth in service-learning programs are significantly more likely to say they enjoy school and plan to vote, according to this study of more than 1,000 youths, half of whom were Latinos.
Researchers also found that the quality of service-learning programs directly affected the program outcomes. Programs that lasted at least one semester and were more organized yielded more positive results, as did those with more experienced teachers. Students who chose their own project issues had the greatest gains in civic knowledge.
The study compared civic engagement outcomes – such as civic knowledge, academic achievement and community attachment – among five high school service-learning programs and their respective schools’ social science, government and economics classes. It found that poorly implemented service-learning programs had about the same effect as passive, lecture-type classroom instruction. Free online. 58 pages. (303) 825-3636, www.civicyouth.org/PopUps/WorkingPapers/WP33Bill ig.pdf.
Head Start Impact Study: First Year Findings
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
This congressionally mandated study shows that while 3- and 4-year-olds in Head Start reap positive benefits, the program’s graduates and enrollees continue to lag significantly behind their more economically advantaged peers.
Researchers found small to moderate gains in pre-reading, pre-writing, vocabulary, parent reports of literacy skills and access to health care. Those gains were not enough to completely close the achievement gap between low-income children enrolled in the program and 3- and 4-year-olds in the general population, although some gains did close the gap by nearly half. There were no significant gains in the areas of early mathematics, oral comprehension or social competency.
The study, which began in 2002, is tracking approximately 5,000 children randomly assigned either to a group that had access to Head Start programs or a group that had access only to non-Head Start services. It will continue through the spring of 2006, when the children near completion of first grade. More than 900,000 disadvantaged children are in Head Start.
Several documents from this report are available free online. The full report is 333 pages. (202) 401-9215, www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/hs/impact_study/in dex.html.
Five Worst Teen Jobs: 2005
National Consumer League (NCL)
Teens are most likely to be injured or killed on the job if they work as field hands or agricultural processing workers; construction workers; landscapers, groundskeepers or lawn-service workers; forklift, tractor or ATV operators; or as salespeople for traveling youth crews, according to this annual list.
The list is compiled using government statistics, a survey of state labor departments and news stories from across the country. This is the first year that landscapers, groundskeepers and lawn-service workers made the top five. Retail jobs in which teens work alone or late at night dropped off the list this year. The report includes statistics and examples of injuries for each job.
According to NCL, one teen worker is injured on the job every 30 seconds. In 2003, the U.S. Department of Labor reported 137 on-the-job fatalities among people under age 20. The report directs readers to NCL’s website for safety tips and advice. Free online. (202) 835-3323, http://nclnet.org/labor/childlabor.
Understanding Social Justice Philanthropy
National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
Based on two years of data collected from several hundred foundations that fund social justice programs and in-depth interviews with 10 of those foundations, this study finds that social justice philanthropy is hampered by “definitional variations” and “disagreements on how to apply social justice concepts to grant making.”
While researchers found foundations agreeing that social justice philanthropy concerns the “equitable redistribution of economic, political, and social power,” they found little agreement on “what a more just society would look like, or if philanthropy is capable of fostering these changes.” The study says that foundation efforts to create sustained changes in public policy and institutions are hampered by disorganized grant-making priorities and a general lack of long-term social justice strategies. Free online. 35 pages. (202) 387-9177, www.ncrp.org/PDF/UnderstandingSocialJusticePhila nthropy.pdf.
Giving USA: 2005
Giving USA Foundation/Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University
Total charitable giving rose 5 percent (2.3 percent, adjusted for inflation) to an estimated $248.5 billion in 2004 – the first positive growth in inflation-adjusted figures since 2000, according to this philanthropic yearbook.
The largest contributors by far were individual donors, who gave nearly $188 billion, or 75.6 percent of the total. Foundations gave $28.8 billion (11.6 percent) while corporations gave $12 billion (4.8 percent). The remaining contributions were by bequests. Foundation giving was higher than in the two preceding years.
Giving increased between 0.8 and 7 percent since 2003 among all nine categories tracked. When contributions were adjusted for inflation, however, international affairs and human services saw declines. Gifts to human services organizations ($19 billion) dropped 1.1 percent when adjusted for inflation, the third straight year of such declines.
Religious organizations, including congregations, received the largest share of gifts, with more than $88 billion in estimated contributions – a 4.4 percent rise over 2003. Giving to educational institutions rose 5.4 percent over 2003, to nearly $34 billion. 240 pages. Available for $65 at (847) 375-4709, www.givingusa.org.
Adolescent Heart & Soul: Achieving Spiritual Competence in Youth-Serving Agencies
New England Network for Child, Youth & Family Services
This first-ever study of spiritual programming in youth-serving agencies describes how seven social service organizations from around the United States recognize the importance of spirituality while delivering services that conform to accepted clinical care and youth development standards. The study provides insights by researchers, participants and leaders, and describes various forms of spiritual programming for adolescents.
The featured agencies are both religious and secular, serve youth ages 14 to 22 (mostly in residential treatment or transitional living) and have spiritual programs that are at least three years old. Spiritual activities were defined as those “explicitly intended to enhance clients’ sense of awareness, wholeness and well-being, and help them tap into sources of inner strength.” The spiritual activities range from meeting regularly with a chaplain to reconnecting Hawaiian youth with their heritage through cultural experiences. Free online. 58 pages. (978) 853-1810, www.nenetwork.org/publications/Heart.and.Soul.pdf.
First-Year Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs
This study of middle- and high school-age youth participating in four abstinence education programs shows an increase in the youths’ support for abstinence until marriage, but no significant increase in their expectations of remaining abstinent long-term.
The report is based on one-year follow-up data; the study began in 1999. Next year, Mathematica plans to release a second report on the programs’ effects on sexual activity.
Researchers surveyed 1,350 program participants and 950 nonparticipants. They found a general increase in the participants’ knowledge of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Youths in three programs were significantly more likely than nonparticipants to pledge to abstain from sex until marriage. Students in two programs reported a greater understanding of the risks of premarital and teen sex.
The programs did not affect teens’ refusal skills or communication with parents, and showed little impact on participants’ support for marriage, self-image, perceptions of peer pressure to have sex, or friends’ support for abstinence.
Each year, nearly $50 million in federal funds and $38 million in state funds go to more than 900 abstinence education programs nationwide. The four programs being studied are My Choice My Future, ReCapturing the Vision, Teens in Control and Families United to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Free online. 178 pages. (609) 275-2350, www.mathematicampr.com/publications/PDFs/firstyearabstinence.pdf.
Associations of Body Mass Index and Perceived Weight With Suicide Ideation and Suicide Attempts Among U.S. High School Students
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Adolescents who perceive themselves as either too fat or too thin, regardless of their actual body mass index, are more likely to report suicidal behavior, says the CDC. Teens who were actually overweight or underweight were only slightly more likely to report suicidal tendencies.
Researchers analyzed data from the 2001 Youth Risk Behavior survey, an annual national survey of nearly 14,000 youth in grades 9 through 12. The survey provided information on self-reported past-year suicide ideas and attempts, perceived weight, and self-reported height and weight (which was used to calculate and categorize youths’ body mass index).
Youth who perceived themselves to be very underweight, slightly underweight, slightly overweight and very overweight were more likely to report thoughts of suicide than those who said they were “about the right weight.”
White students who felt they were either very underweight or very overweight were more likely than others to report suicide attempts. Suicide attempts were also more likely to be reported by blacks and Hispanics who felt they were very underweight. Abstract available free online. (770) 488-4362, http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/1 59/6/513.
Measuring Digital Opportunity for America’s Children
The Children’s Partnership
In the past decade, the number of children with Internet access at home has grown from 15 percent to 68 percent, and nine in 10 use a computer at school, this year-long study says.
But while the Internet and other information technologies help many children, the minority who lack access to such tools have fallen into a “digital opportunity gap” that puts them at a severe disadvantage. Low-income children who do have access to digital tools use them to “gain opportunities for themselves” at higher rates than do wealthier youth.
More than three-fourths of children (ages 7 to 17) from households earning more than $75,000 annually use a home computer to complete school assignments, compared with just more than one-fourth of those from households earning less than $15,000. And white and Asian-American children are much more likely to use a home computer for word processing or desktop publishing than are Latino, African-American or Native American children.
The report also provides an index of 40 indicators to help youth-serving programs track their effectiveness in providing youth with digital opportunities. Free online. 66 pages. (202) 429-0033, www.contentbank.org/DOMS.
Early Violent Death Among Delinquent Youth: A Prospective Longitudinal Study
Youth with a history of delinquency are four times more likely than other youth to die violently, according to this study, which tracked more than 1,800 youths over an eight-year period. The youths, ages 10 to 19, had all been held at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Illinois. The study, which began in 1995, was published in the June 2005 issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Lead study author Linda Teplin found that, by March 2004, 65 of the youths being tracked had died. More than 95 percent of the deaths were homicides or the result of police actions, and more than 93 percent were from gunshot wounds. Delinquent girls were eight times more likely to die violently than were girls in the general population.
Teplin notes that early violent death occurs disproportionately among youth who are members of racial and ethnic minorities, and calls for an examination of whether minority youth express suicidal intent by putting themselves at risk of homicide. Free online. 9 pages. (888) 631-9989, www.rwjf.org/files/research/Early%20violent%20de aths.pdf.