CSD Project List
 
This CSD Civic Service Research Fellows study developed an easy-to-use instrument that allows service and volunteer organizations to assess the impact of their programs. The instrument is developed with the aid of service and volunteer organizations within and outside the United Kingdom to ensure that the instrument is useful in different cultural, political, and social contexts.

CSD is partnered with the Brookings Institution (BI) on the Initiative on International Volunteering and Service to build knowledge on international service worldwide. BI aims to create avenues for meaningful participation in international volunteering and service, and to ensure long-lasting value for volunteers, as well as for sending and hosting organizations, communities, and countries. As a partner in this initiative, CSD is conducting impact research that builds knowledge on international service worldwide and will contribute to related policy analysis.
 
Several projects are part of this initiative:

The Downpayments on the American Dream Policy Demonstration (ADD) was the first large-scale demonstration of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), with approximately 2,400 accounts opened at 13 sites across the country. CSD led the research design and dissemination for this demonstration, designing a multi-pronged approach that included both quantitative and qualitative research methods. An experimental design was executed at the ADD site with the largest number of program participants. This research, which is ongoing, has yielded a considerable number of papers, reports, journal articles, and books, informing policymakers and others on topics related to creating effective opportunities for low- to moderate-income populations to save and invest in such assets as homes, businesses, higher education and retirement.  
 
Funding provided by Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Citigroup Foundation, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, F.B. Heron Foundation, Fannie Mae Foundation, Ford Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Levi Strauss Foundation, the MetLife Foundation, the Moriah Fund, and Rockefeller Foundation.

Participants in AmeriCorps*VISTA Entrepreneur Corps are placed in organizations that aim to increase asset ownership among low-income groups. CSD collaborated with the Corporation for National and Community Service to assess the role of Entrepreneur Corps members in asset-building programs throughout the United States. We report findings regarding the asset-building activities of these members, and recommend performance measurement indicators based on effective asset-building.

In partnership with the International Forum for Volunteering in Development, the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI), and Uniterra/World University Service of Canada, Benjamin Lough and Co-Principal Investigator Rebecca Tiessen from the University of Ottawa are surveying 960 staff or host community members in 12 volunteer “receiving” countries in the Global South.
 
This project is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). 

This CSD Civic Service Research Fellows study tested a definition of intercultural competence and develops an instrument to measure and assess it. This project investigated the impact of international youth service programs on Swiss and British volunteers and on their Ecuadorian hosts using surveys and focus groups. Findings contributed important knowledge to the field of intercultural education regarding the identification, development, assessment, and impact on those involved.


A primary goal of the Head Start ASSET Project is to increase the financial capability of Head Start families located in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The intervention employs financial education and has five key components:
  1. Benefits Calculator and basic budgeting: Entry-level screening for 12 state benefits and a 1-hour household budgeting session.
  2. Financial education: 10 hours (five 2-hour classes) covering such topics as debt management, banking, saving, budgeting, and credit reports.
  3. Budget and credit counseling: A midpoint budgeting session and the creation of an action plan.
  4. Financial coaching: One-on-one coaching with a trained volunteer to provide support and encouragement after completion of the financial-education series.
  5. Small-dollar matched saving: Up to $200 provided as a savings match for participants to pay existing debt after completion of the financial-education series.

This project examined the patterns and determinants of asset accumulation across the life course, merging 35 years of data (1968-2003) from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). Life table analysis as well as multivariate modeling techniques are employed. Several key components of asset holding are examined, including homeownership, financial wealth and net worth, and asset poverty.

This project provided the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF) with assistance in designing the next evaluation of the Assets for Independence (AFI) program.  Building on ACF’s recent evaluation of the AFI program and the state of the IDA field, CSD reviewed research findings and data sources from IDA programs, and developed an evaluation plan which will outline evaluation options and their relative advantages.
 
Funding provided by Administration for Children and Families, Urban Institute, and US Department of Health & Human Services.

AssetsAfrica is a pilot program that tests asset-building innovations for impoverished households and communities in Uganda. Participants purchased motorcycles, bicycles, goats, oxen, and land with the money they saved in their AssetsAfrica savings accounts. The longitudinal quasi-experiment research includes surveys, in-depth interviews, and savings account monitoring.

CSD assisted the Xin Jiang provincial government with policy design and research design of China's first asset-building program, implemented in 2005. CSD conducts ongoing research on the program in partnership with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The Xin Jiang program may serve as a model for asset-building programs to be implemented in other parts of China.

This study assesses African-American freshman and sophomore students’ decisions to remain in high school and their opinions regarding specific dropout prevention programs. Outcomes indicate that students believed that school completion would prepare them for the future, and were more likely to stay in school if family members supported that decision. Primary barriers to completing school relate to family issues, academic problems, and personal issues. Overall, students were most interested in intervention programs that focus on the future.

This study investigates the impact of Ferguson and its national unfolding upon civic and community engagement. While many citizens are not civically engaged across a range of indicators, and some question the benefit of engagement at all, since the events in Ferguson in 2014, a civic reaction has been evident on the streets, in our board rooms, and even at our dinner tables. A civic impulse exists for justice that can be understood and catalyzed in St. Louis and beyond.
 
Several projects are part of this study:
  • Assessing the National Civic Response to the Black Lives Matter Movement: A nationally representative survey on civic engagement and racial attitudes, in partnership with Washington University Professors Steven Smith and Betsy Sinclair, utilizing The American Panel Survey (TAPS).
  • Understanding the Civic Motivations of Movement Leaders: A qualitative interview study of civic leaders and community members in the Black Lives Matter movement, designed to supplement survey data findings with lived context of civic experiences.
  • St. Louis Civic Catalyst: A regionally representative survey on civic behaviors, motivations, and barriers, and perceptions of race relations, with results generalizable to the 7 sub-geographies of St. Louis City (North, Central, and South) and St. Louis County (North, West, Mid, and South). This project centers on an action agenda, where results are coupled with research on effective civic mobilization practices to inform the work of civic organizations. Dissemination includes training, workshops, and a social media campaign to catalyze inclusive civic action.

CSD's work on civic engagement and service focuses on societal inclusion and ways to promote engagement across the life course. Our research includes investigations of youth service, international service, and service across the life course.

The project investigated voluntarism and civic service in Lesotho, including its goals and objectives, institutional contexts, programmatic forms, and connections to organizations in the United States. Findings show that informal and formal civic service traditions in Lesotho are primarily a response to social necessity, not an idealistic venture. Formal civic service has been largely facilitated by international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), although Lesotho NGOs have also facilitated on a limited basis.

CSD created the Civic Service Research Fellows Program to support innovative research on civic service in countries all over the world. The program has provided funding and training to a multi-national network of scholars and researchers, representing over 17 countries. Their research and scholarship contributes to a growing knowledge base on civic service worldwide, including research on service-learning, national, and international service. In some countries, such as Mongolia, this is the first known published research on civic service. The work of the Research Fellows is featured in the 2007 book, Civic Service Worldwide. View Research Fellows publications.

Since 2001, CSD has been researching 529 college savings plans and policy innovations, with the goal of establishing inclusive asset-building policies. College savings plans or "529s" were designed to encourage savings for higher education expenses but are regressive in their current form. The Inclusion in College Savings Plans research explores how features of 529s—including public oversight and outreach, centralized accounting, low deposit minimums, and matching incentives—can be building blocks for a more inclusive saving policy. In addition, CSD recently began a collaboration with the New America Foundation called the College Savings Initiative. The Initiative focuses on research and policy design for more inclusive 529 college savings plans, with the goal of increasing access to post-secondary education for low- to moderate-income students.

Funding provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Lumina Foundation for Education.


In partnership with OmniMed and Uganda Chartered HealthNet at Makerere University, CSD has helped to design a prospective randomized clinical trial measuring the impacts of volunteer-based health trainings on health-related behaviors, including antenatal care, latrine usage, specific illnesses, consultation with community health workers or health facilities, and vitamin and medication usage. The research was being conducted in the Mukono district in central Uganda.
 
Funding is provided by the Ford Foundation and the Washington University-Brookings Institution Academic Venture Fund.

Research indicates that many low-income families use tax refunds such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in ways that promote longer-term economic well-being. Community tax coalitions, which provide tax assistance and outreach to low-income individuals, are increasingly linking EITC refunds to asset-building accounts to encourage their clients to save. The goal of this project is to link community tax coalitions in at least two states to that state's 529 College Savings Plan, providing a means for low-income individuals to save their EITC refund for higher education expenses.

This joint project of the Center for Social Development and the Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies investigated the potential of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to serve as part of a poverty alleviation strategy in Indian Country. Researchers collected data from over 9,000 tax returns that were filed at 14 Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites serving Indian Country. The data was used to determine the number of Native community members who are eligible for EITC, the amount of money flowing to Native community members through EITC, potential uses of EITC income, and opportunities to build community infrastructure and programs that could help EITC and other tax dollars remain in Native communities and serve as leverage for further asset building.
 
Funding provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, First Nations Development Institute, and Native Financial Education Coalition.

This CSD Civic Service Research Fellows study analyzes and compares national policies regarding youth civic service in France, Italy, Czech Republic, and Poland. The goal of the analysis is to investigate how national frameworks expand international voluntary service opportunities for young people in the EU, and to what extent EU policies and legislative instruments can support this expansion. The study develops case studies based on interviews with volunteers, government officials, and NGOs.

This joint project of the Center for Social Development and the Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies sought to gain a better understanding of the definition and vision of asset building in Native communities, including a better understanding of the role financial assets play in community development. Specifically, the project investigated the current asset holdings of one Native community by allowing Native community members to define "assets" for themselves and for their community.

The DukeEngage Community Partner Project assesses community partner perceptions of student volunteers, their preferred attributes, and perceived impact. Survey data from 2011–2013 were analyzed and summarized.

Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) collaborated with CSD to expand the national methodology for basic income adequacy and economic security measure by including saving components. Essential for long-term economic security and household development. saving components include precautionary savings, skill development savings, and homeownership savings.

This project examines current challenges and emerging perspectives in international volunteerism in Asia. Evidence from the Asian region is scant compared with Europe and the Americas, yet there is increasing activity and new forms of partnerships. This project examined current research on volunteerism in the Asia region, conducted an online survey of IVS sending organizations to identify principal characteristics and assess challenges and strengths, and conducted qualitative field research in six countries (Japan, Singapore, India, China, the Philippines, and Vietnam) interviewing IVS organizations on the Asian-perspective on international volunteerism, and emerging trends.
 
This work was first presented at the International FORUM on Development Service's 2010 conference in Singapore. 
 
Funding is provided by the International FORUM on Development Service with additional assistance from the Singapore International Foundation.

The Employee Financial Wellness Programs (EFWPs) project, an exploratory study that began in 2015 as an initiative of the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, is designed to generate evidence about such programs and to assess whether they offer a promising strategy for building financial security among low- and moderate-income workers.

This Civic Service Research Fellows study investigates the impact of service learning on environmental awareness and civic engagement among participants. The research focuses on several service-learning programs in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that promote environmental awareness. Surveys and in-depth interviews with participants address the impact of service learning, identify the factors affecting environmental performance, and explore the challenges of implementing service-learning programs on national and regional levels.


This collaborative research project between CSD and the Seoul Welfare Foundation focuses on the Hope Plus Savings Account Program, a matched savings program that is modeled on Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) in the United States. The impact study explores the effects of Hope Plus on low-income households using longitudinal survey research and qualitative research with in-depth interviews.

Experience Corps (EC) is an inter-generational tutoring program that places older adults in public schools to help students who have been identified as poor readers. CSD's research investigates the program's effects on participating students and on the older adults who provide the tutoring. Research on students is conducted at EC sites in Boston and New York; research on older adults is conducted in 18 cities with EC programs. 


In this mixed methods research project, CSD addresses saving for education in American Indian communities in North Carolina. Qualitative research in the study investigates whether American Indian parents save for post-secondary education, and what methods of saving are culturally acceptable. The research also seeks to identify how saving for post-secondary education could be facilitated for American Indian parents, both by improving the design of financial products and removing barriers to saving.
 
The study also employs a quantitative approach to test significant indicators of saving for post-secondary education among American Indian adults, and to spatially assess North Carolina’s 529 College Savings Plan (NC 529 Plan or Plan) awareness.

The Center for Social Development is actively engaged in building a body of evidence in financial capability, defined as both the knowledge to make optimal financial decisions and access to appropriate and beneficial financial services. Our current initiative focuses on financial capability across the life-cycle and inclusion of all individuals. FCAB works in collaboration with the Kathryn M. Buder Center of American Indian Studies.
 
The aim of FCAB is to address the wide gap in professional training of practitioners who serve low- and moderate-income households. In this way, CSD hopes indirectly to increase financial capability among households which today receive little or no financial guidance or counseling.
 
In order to renew professional capacity in social work and other applied professions, CSD works with many partners to develop curricula in Financial Capability and Asset Building.
 

Strategies include:

  1. Engaging with other universities, disciplines, and professions in research, innovation, and application for financial capability.
  2. Building evidence for the efficacy of developing professional capacity in financial capability.
  3. Partnering with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-serving institutions, and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) to ensure inclusion of culturally relevant and culturally competent financial capability topics.
  4. Completing evidence-based texts that will serve as resources for training social workers and other human services professionals.

“From Charity to Change: The Civic Mission of Higher Education” aims to be a seminal book that challenges and extends the academy’s service function. The service mission in higher education has historically emphasized a charitable orientation. This book argues for a civic mission among high research activity universities that embraces a problem-solving oriented, social change approach, which is grounded in community and societal needs. The civic mission of higher education intends not to provide charity but to understand and change community and societal conditions by leveraging expertise and capacity across the academy. The book grounds its analysis in the evolution of the service mission of higher education through its primary vehicles of community service, service learning, engaged scholarship, and the anchor institution approach; respectively, each one addresses outreach, teaching, research, and community investment. Espousing a service mission, a historic and genuine intent to do “good” or serve the greater good is at the core of them all. This book argues, however, that such an intent keeps the service mission at the margins, minimizing its chances for being more than a nicety, for being institutionalized.

With the goal of developing a global research agenda on civic service, CSD conducted a comprehensive scan of civic service programs worldwide. This project assesses the forms, purposes, activities, servers, and operations of all civic service programs worldwide and gathers information on their prevalence and geographic distribution.

The Center for Social Development and the New America Foundation's Asset Building Program launched the Global Assets Project (GAP) in July 2006 to inform and promote development of asset-building policies and programs worldwide. This coordinated initiative seeks to build on successes of domestic asset-building programs to an international level by informing new policies, testing their effectiveness, creating networks of scholars and policy makers, building the global knowledge base, and promoting meetings and information sharing. See more information at the GAP website.
 
Funding provided by Citigroup Foundation and the Levi Strauss Foundation.

In order to refine the Global Engagement Survey that assesses multiple dimensions of global learning, Benjamin Lough is surveying students from eight institutions of higher education that participated in global service learning. 
 
This project is sponsored by participating institutions of higher education and the Henry Luce Foundation.

CSD provided policy and research design support to the government of Hong Kong as it developed a proposal for a national Child Development Fund (CDF). Under this program, the government would establish child development accounts (CDAs) that low-income families could use to save money for their children's future and help their children escape an intergenerational cycle of poverty. CSD continues to consult on a regular basis as the program develops.

Two asset-based matched savings initiatives underway in Southern Hungary and eastern Slovakia are three-year asset-building pilot programs focusing on the rural poor with the goal of encouraging low-income families to save for assets that will pave the way to a better life. The initiatives were modeled after CSD's asset-building pilot projects in the U.S. and abroad.

I Can Save tests the effects of financial education and matched college savings on low-income elementary school students at one of the SEED National Initiative sites. The study focuses on how financial education and saving affect student's financial literacy, academic engagement, and plans for college. The research will inform development of a school-based college savings and financial education program for all children. Research in I Can Save is a joint effort of CSD and University of Missouri-St. Louis.
 
Funding provided by Center for Social Development, F. B. Heron Foundation, Lumina Foundation for Education, and University of Missouri Research Board.

This project studies the impact of the service experience on participants in two programs for voluntary national service in Israel. Shlomit is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1993, which serves a cross section of Israeli society whose volunteers include Jewish and Arab men and women, religiously observant and secular, who have been excused from military service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) but wish to volunteer for civic service for periods of one to two years. The Jerusalem Municipal Department for Community Service fields approximately 220 volunteers per year in social welfare and educational NGOs in Jerusalem. The majority of the volunteers are ultra-orthodox Jewish women.

This project uses a quasi-experimental design involving two International Voluntary Service (IVS) programs (Cross-Cultural Solutions and World Teach) to determine which features have the greatest impact on volunteers, host organizations, and community outcomes. Research was conducted in Peru and Costa Rica using matched comparison groups at each level. Methods include longitudinal surveys, in-depth interviews, and focus groups.

Funding provided by the Ford Foundation and the Brookings Institution and Washington University Academic Venture Fund.


CSD partners with VOSESA (Volunteer Organization and Service Enquiry Southern Africa) to assess the impacts of international service. VOSESA has utilized CSD’s international service impact project design and modified the methods and instruments to fit the programmatic and cultural context of sub-Saharan Africa.  Working with international service programs based in Germany, VOSESA examines the impact of international service in South Africa, Mozambique, and Tanzania through volunteer surveys, host organization interviews, and host beneficiary focus groups.
 
Funding is provided by the Ford Foundation, the Brookings Institution, and Washington University Academic Venture Fund.

The Impacts of International Volunteer Workcamps on Young People project will be analyzing data collected from the project: "Global Research on the Impact of International Voluntary Service" during summer 2015 by surveying young volunteers going to and returning from Europe (Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Italy, UK) and Asia (India, Indonesia, Korea, Philippines, Vietnam).
 
This project is sponsored by the European Commission, Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA); EU Erasmus+; and UNESCO Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service.

This Civic Service Research Fellows study compares two youth service programs in the U.S.--City Year and Teach for America--and two in France--Unis Cite and AFEV. Using in-depth interviews, the researcher explores servers' perceptions of the boundaries between volunteer work (travail benevole), service work (travail volontaire), and professional/occupational work (travail salarie). The study also assesses the role of an education-focused program in shaping a professional career in education.


A research and policy symposium on knowledge foundations and policy strategies to enable low-wealth individuals to build assets. Twenty-two authors presented papers resulting in a special journal publication of Social Development Issues, Volume 25, 2003.

In 1999, Maine implemented an innovative matching grant program, the NextGen College Investing Plan®. NextGen was designed to increase participation and savings among low- to moderate-income families in the state's 529 College Savings Plan. Using in-depth interviews and telephone surveys, this CSD project investigated which participants benefited from the unique features of the NextGen program and whether the program's unique design helped participants to save.

In collaboration with the Indonesian Ministry of Social Welfare and the State Islamic University (UIN), CSD has designed an asset-based pilot project to be implemented in poor areas of Indonesia. The project will run in parallel with Indonesia's successful micro-finance program (Cooperative Micro Businesses, or KUBE program), with the goal of alleviating poverty.

Twenty-two organizations in the St. Louis metropolitan area participated in a project to identify factors that discourage or encourage older adults to engage in voluntary service to society. Through surveys and focus groups, the project measures dimensions of institutional capacity--the structural mechanisms and policies that facilitate older adults' knowledge of, access to, and motivation to participate in service opportunities.

Michal Grinstein-Weiss and Michael Sherraden are working with the Israeli government to develop an innovative asset-building policy informed by the experiences of similar programs around the world. Their focus is on Child Development Accounts (CDAs), savings accounts in children’s names that may help to reduce the inequalities present in Israel today, where 29 percent of Israeli children live below the poverty line, and the OECD ranks Israel in the top five countries with the most extreme income inequality.
 
In July 2015, a proposal authored by Grinstein-Weiss on adopting CDAs in Israel was incorporated into the country’s national budget and approved by the national cabinet. The Knesset, Israeli’s parliament, formally voted on the budget and included CDA proposal in November 2015.  The policy proposal builds on the infrastructure of Israel’s monthly child allowance, a stipend provided to families with children under 18 by the government, with the goal of developing long-term assets and the results socioeconomic improvements for children. CDAs would be listed in each individual child’s name, and funds would be accessible for education, small business enterprise, marriage or homeownership at age 18 or with no spending restrictions at age 21.
 
Bringing CDAs to the forefront of policy discussions in Israel has been an effort years in the making. In October 2009, a group of stakeholders and experts gathered in New York for a conference titled “Asset Development in the U.S. and Israel: Current evidence and future initiatives.” At this meeting, the Israeli government expressed great interest in the concept of asset-building policy and asked Grinstein-Weiss to develop a proposal for CDAs in Israel. In March 2010, Grinstein-Weiss organized the conference “Child Development Accounts in Israel: Toward a New Initiative” for stakeholders and Israeli government officials to meet again, this time in Jerusalem.” The ministers and directors officially formed a Steering Committee for CDAs in Israel, which included Grinstein-Weiss, fellow asset-building experts and Israeli government representatives. Grinstein-Weiss again presented to a similar delegation of high-ranking Israeli officials in September of 2014 on asset building and poverty reduction and most recently presented directly to the Israeli Minister of Finance and the Minister of Social Affairs as well as the head of Israel’s National Insurance Institute in December of 2014. Former Minister of Social Affairs and current Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog has been a champion of the proposal.
 
The proposed policy for CDAs in Israel also includes three important best practices for CDA design:
  1. It is universal, meaning that all children born in Israel receive a savings account and benefit from the program, regardless of their family’s income or ethnic or religious status;
  2. It is progressive, meaning that low-income families not benefiting from other tax deduction programs will receive a governmental match for achieving savings goals; and
  3. It is automatic, meaning that funds will be deposited directly into savings accounts in each child’s name unless the family opts out.

The future enactment will serve as a laboratory for the United States to generate learning about the implementation process of a universal policy.


This CSD Civic Service Research Fellows study explores the characteristics of schools in Argentina that run service-learning programs. The study identifies the most general characteristics of 4,400 primary and secondary schools: characteristics of students actively involved in the service-learning project, service goals, learning goals, and specific links between service and the curriculum.


Ecosandals Investment Limited (EIL) has developed and implemented an asset-based development project in a shantytown outside Nairobi, Kenya. The goal of the project is to enable families to save and make investments in the Nairobi Stock Exchange. The project was modeled after CSD's asset-building pilot projects in the U.S. and abroad.

The Management Information System for Individual Development Accounts (MIS IDA) was the first commercial software available to assist organizations with managing IDA programs. MIS IDA is a customized Microsoft® ACCESS application first developed by a team from CSD in 1998 as a research tool for the American Dream Policy Demonstration (ADD) to track demographics and savings of low-income individuals participating in a matched savings (individual development account, IDA) program. The software was subsequently refined to assist organizations running matched savings programs with program management and to produce account statements for clients showing deposit and accrued match funds on one statement. MIS IDA was unique in that it offered program management and research capacity within the same system. Based on a feasibility study of next generation software needed to support the expansion of the growing IDA field, software firms stepped in to develop internet-based applications that can more widely support the field.

Recent calls in the United States for greater involvement in service and volunteer work have brought renewed attention to the current and potential contributions of older adults to the lives of others and communities. This is an affirmation of the value of service to the commonweal and suggestive that new visions of aging are gaining a foothold in the public psyche. But what will it take to increase involvement in volunteer work among the oldest segment of the population, which is increasingly comprised of healthier and better-educated individuals? Answering this question requires looking beyond the characteristics of older adults themselves and understanding how opportunities for volunteerism and service are structured. This research project examines the conceptual framework for understanding and initial findings from a study of organizational factors that impact the recruitment, retention, and effective utilization of older volunteers.
 
The aim of this study is to augment existing knowledge regarding the individual-level determinants of volunteerism among older adults with information about the institutional context in which those activities are carried out. We explore the congruence between the perceptions of older adults and organizations as regard the quality of volunteer opportunities within a single urban/suburban volunteer market. Our goal is to provide the language, measurement tools, and impetus for a broader and more balanced discussion of elder volunteerism and service.

Microfinance is another way to help the poor build assets. Microfinance involves improving access for the poor to formal financial services, including savings, loans, and transfer services. This project focuses on credit scoring for microfinance and poverty scoring. Credit scoring helps microlenders improve the accuracy of their risk assessments, allowing them to charge less to low-risk borrowers and to offer loans to higher-risk borrowers. Poverty scoring helps microlenders to monitor and manage their depth of outreach to the poor. 

MOKANSave is a bi-state coalition that brings together non-profit and community-based organizations, financial institutions, legislators, policy advocates, private foundations, and other stakeholders to explore the potential for asset-building policies and programs in Missouri and Kansas. Created by CSD, MOKANSave has sponsored, organized, and hosted five community forums and one bi-state conference on Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) and other asset-building strategies.

CSD's research on Native assets examines the effectiveness of asset-building policies in Native communities and seeks to inform policy design at the state and federal levels to make asset-building policies inclusive of Native communities. In addition, this work increases opportunities for tribes and Native peoples to examine the importance of asset building to their communities, and to establish and express informed positions on asset-building policy.
 
In its research and policy work, CSD collaborates with the Kathryn M. Buder Center for Indian American Studies, individual Native American tribes, and with several native-focused organizations such as the National Congress of American Indians, First Nations Development Institute, First Nations Oweesta Corporation, and Native Nations Institute.
 
Funding provided by Annie E. Casey Foundations, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and Ford Foundation.

In this project, the Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies and the Center for Social Development (CSD) examined the uptake and potential uses of Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) dollars by Native people. Surveys conducted at fourteen Native community organizations currently providing free tax preparation services found that most planned to use their refunds for personal expenses. However, many community members expressed strong interest in learning about matched savings accounts, homeownership, and financial management education, particularly credit counseling. These findings provide insight into the kinds of community infrastructure and programs that help dollars stay in a community and help citizens leverage their financial resources. 

The North American Community Service (NACS) evaluation studies an innovative pilot project in transnational youth service--service conducted in one country by youth from another country. This project evaluates and analyzes the transnational features and impacts of this program involving Mexican, Canadian, and U.S. youth. The results of the study will guide the expansion of the youth service program and provide direction for future policy related to youth service.

In this project, scholars developed a measurement tool to assess institutional capacity to engage older volunteers, including access, information, incentives, and facilitation, and used this tool to collect data on volunteer programs and older adult volunteers. Data from 51 volunteer programs and 405 older adults who provided volunteer service through these programs demonstrated that programs vary in institutional capacity and this variation affects the volunteer experience. Perceived benefits reported by volunteers were related to the facilitation and incentives provided by the organization.

This CSD Civic Service Research Fellows study investigates the characteristics of civic service programs in Uruguay that most effectively recruit and retain older adults. In addition, the study compares civic service programs for older adults with those developed for young people to gain insight from both types of service and to develop guidelines to be applied by organizations to their social development programs.


CSD has provided policy and research design support to NGOs in Peru and Colombia as they develop three asset-based poverty alleviation initiatives. The objectives of these initiatives, which target the rural poor, especially poor women, are to increase participants' access to financial services and to help them to build assets.

In partnership with the Urban Institute, CSD evaluated existing theoretical and empirical studies of asset building among low-income households, providing its findings and a plan for future research to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In the decades ahead, China, like other countries, will have a very large older population, with many older adults relatively healthy and interested in being actively engaged. Contributions of older adults will be necessary for social and economic development of families, communities, and society. The challenge is how to initiate and build this agenda. To begin to address this challenge, gerontology scholars from seven countries participated in a conference to advance international research and policy innovations in productive aging, with a focus specifically on China. The conference marked the first time that productive aging was considered at a national level in China.
 
Papers presented at the conference are published in English in a 2010 special issue of the China Journal of Social Work (vol. 3) and will be published in Chinese by Social Sciences Academic Press.
 
Funding provided by the Center for Social Development, Shandong University, the Social Policy Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and the Centre for Social Development Asia at the National University of Singapore.

Using the Americans' Changing Lives Study (ACLS) data set, this research analyzes the level of engagement of older adults in productive activities like volunteering, working, or caregiving, and the impact of these activities on older adults' health and mental health. Findings indicate high levels of engagement in these activities, and generally beneficial impacts.

This project assesses the Redevelopment Opportunities for Women Economic Action Program (REAP), which develops economic services, including an IDA program, for low-income battered women in the St. Louis region. The study explores the role of financial and economic factors in domestic violence by conducting in-depth interviews with women who participated in REAP. Findings suggest that most participants had experienced some level of economic abuse. Participants reported developing a greater sense of financial self-efficacy as a result of the program.
 
Funding provided by the Fahs Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation and the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE).

Refund to Savings (R2S) is a collaboration of academic researchers from CSD and Duke University, and with Intuit, Inc., the makers of TurboTax tax preparation software. R2S builds a saving-promotion experiment into the TurboTax Free File Online product that is available free to low- and moderate-income households. R2S experiments measure the effect of interventions informed by behavioral economics that seek to increase saving at tax time. The tax refund is the largest check most households receive all year, and because it is outside of normal budgets and income, it may present a golden moment to build savings.The research activities of R2S give unique evidence on the dynamics of saving among low- and moderate-income households and will demonstrate if interventions informed by behavioral economics can stimulate saving.

SEED for Oklahoma Kids (SEED OK) is a state-wide experimental test of Child Development Accounts (CDAs) in Oklahoma. SEED OK is among the most important policy tests in the United States to study impacts of CDAs on saving for college, family attitudes and behaviors, and outcomes for children. SEED OK research is multi-method and rigorous, consisting of a longitudinal experiment with random assignment of SEED OK treatment and control participants, account monitoring, and in-depth interviews. Through SEED OK, we aim to understand: (1) How much is saved and accumulated for children’s education; (2) The impacts of SEED OK on parents’ expectations and behavior; and (3) How much difference SEED OK will make in child development and educational achievement.
 
Funding provided by the Ford Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and Lumina Foundation for Education.

CSD is one of six national partners and twelve community partners implementing SEED (Savings for Education, Entrepreneurship, and Downpayment), a ten-year multi-method research project that tests child development accounts (CDAs) with various age and target groups.
 
Funding provided by Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Citi Foundation, Edwin Gould Foundation for Children, Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Jim Casey Youth Opportunity Initiative, Lumina Foundation for Education, MetLife Foundation, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund.

CSD faculty associate Dr. Fred Ssewamala designed and implemented the pilot SEED-Uganda with local Ugandan researchers, to implement and test an asset-building intervention with a vulnerable population: orphaned children in Uganda at seven primary schools located in Rakai district. The study used MIS IDA, a custom database system developed by CSD, to track savings. A subsequent phase of the project, known as SUUBI, was a larger study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.
 
Funding provided by the Friedman Family Foundation and the Social Intervention Group (SIG) at Columbia University.

This study examined economic well-being outcomes including income generation and family poverty between 1991 and 1995 among low-income microentrepreneurs who took part in one of seven microenterprise assistance programs in the United States. While income generated from the business is examined, the primary focus here is at the household level, on whether or not poor families improve their economic status. This focus is consistent with the current dialogue between proponents, who suggest microenterprise can move families out of poverty, and critics who question such claims, suggesting microbusinesses may instead perpetuate poverty. Broadly, this study asks: Does microenterprise improve the economic well being of poor families over time? And, do economic outcomes differ significantly between program participants, non-participants and wageworkers?

This CSD Civic Service Research Fellows study analyzes civic service and volunteering initiatives in five Southern African countries and examines their implications for social development in the region. Local researchers in each country conduct interviews with the staff who implement and coordinate service programs, and provide a map of all organizations operating civic service and volunteering initiatives in the region. The study explores the meaning of civic service in a Southern African context, perceptions of service, and the social policies that might support or hinder civic service programs.


Service learning in middle school provides unique opportunities for addressing community needs while also enhancing the social and emotional development of adolescents from vulnerable communities. This longitudinal research study examined the effects of embedding a year-long service learning program into existing school curricula for young adolescents in a local public middle school setting. The intervention, Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program (TOP), was implemented in partnership with the Wyman Center from the August 2012 to May 2015. The study uses mixed methods to understand how service learning affects student and school-level beliefs and developmental outcomes, especially for students who are vulnerable to academic and disciplinary difficulties. Students in the intervention participated in a weekly positive youth development curriculum and 20 hours of student-led service learning projects per year. Student-level outcomes were measured using surveys that gauged school, neighborhood, and community belonging; academic engagement and efficacy; and civic duty and participation. Additionally, administrative data on student absences, suspensions, and grades were collected through partnering schools. Interviews and focus groups were also conducted with students, administrators, faculty members, and intervention facilitators to determine challenges and strengths of embedding service learning in the school day.

CSD's research on service with older adults investigates the impacts of service on the health and well-being of older adult volunteers. Research in this area also explores the potential of service with older adults to address critical social development needs in their communities.

The Post Secondary Education Account (PSEA) Policy established a college savings account for every Singaporean aged 7 to 20 in 2008. This program is one of Singapore's three national asset-building programs that create a cradle-to-grave asset-building system for all Singaporeans. CSD conducts research on this comprehensive asset-building system, which offers insight into effective design of a universal asset-building system.

Washington University in St. Louis and Duke University will host a think tank focused on the relationship between social innovation and civic engagement in higher education. This convening emerges from the arguments made by Amanda Moore McBride and Eric Mlyn in their February 2015 article in the Chronicle on Higher Education regarding the necessary role of civic engagement in any social change effort. This call comes at a time when social innovation and entrepreneurship approaches are ascendant on our campuses and in the for profit and nonprofit sectors. The response to this article was supportive from both scholars and practitioners of social innovation and civic engagement, yet all asked how can higher education better knit the two approaches together.
 
This think tank will explore:
• the relationship between these approaches;
• the conceptual underpinnings and fundamental assumptions that they each make; and
• how they may or may not be compatible with each other.
Essential for any discussion of these issues is for the various stakeholders to examine social innovation approaches that have worked by leveraging civic tools. The think tank will propose pathways forward for higher education specifically, focusing on scholarship and curricula that add to knowledge and train the next generation of social change leaders. The think tank will also explore the unique roles of investors, private and public, in supporting effective social change.

The government of South Korea has adopted asset building as a social investment policy, and interest in this policy direction is increasing in Korea. A growing number of asset-based programs have been implemented at both national and city levels throughout Korea since 2007.
 
CSD provides policy and research design support to the government of South Korea as it develops and implements programs that focus on social investment.

CSD is collaborating with faculty and staff at the G. W. Carver Agricultural Experiment Station at Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama to develop state and regional asset-building coalitions in the southern Black Belt region.  Goals of the project are to build capacity for an inclusive statewide and regional asset-building coalition in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi using Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as partners. Central to the vision of the project is raising awareness that will strengthen asset-building strategies in the Black Belt region. The project disseminates information about asset-development initiatives such as financial literacy and education programs, access to banking, Individual Development Account programs, land loss and ownership, pre- and post-hurricane recovery strategies, new strategies to deliver asset-building programs, policy, and research initiatives, and new approaches to develop unique partnerships and collaborations.


The State Assets Policy Project (SAPP) informs development of asset-building policies at the state level. SAPP is specifically designed to include traditionally marginalized groups.

SAPP projects include the Rural Wealth project, which focuses on marginalized rural communities with common challenges often associated with low- to moderate- welath individuals who are working to build economic security, and the Southern Regional Asset Building Coalition, whose focus is to advocate and advance state, regional and asset policies that build economic secuirty for families and communities highlighting racial disparities. SAPP offers state-by-state asset-building policy information to policy makers and program staff, and supports formation of state-level asset-building coalitions.
 
In addition, CSD hosts annual conferences that bring stakeholders together to discuss policy, share best practices, and plan for the future.

 
Funding provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Past funders include Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Ford Foundation, F.B. Heron Foundation, and the MetLife Foundation.

This CSD Civic Service Research Fellows study explores the nature of service and citizenship in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program in Nigeria. The study takes an in-depth look at how political forces have affected the implementation of this program and assesses the effects of the NYSC on civic engagement thirty years after its inception.

This CSD Civic Service Research Fellows study explores the impact of participation in a service-learning program at the college level on participants' civic engagement following graduation. Researchers surveyed alumni of the Bonner Scholars Program, a four-year co-curricular service-learning program, and compared their responses to those of two comparison groups drawn from UCLA's Life After College Survey. Findings suggest that participation in the Bonner Scholar program correlates with a higher level of civic engagement, particularly in civic activities that require dialogue.


This CSD Civic Service Research Fellows study investigates the potential of youth civic service programs to serve as effective development tools for transitional countries. Research focuses on the National United Nations Volunteer Program, which was founded by Mongolia's government during a period of social, economic, and political transition. In-depth interviews and focus groups suggest that the program had a positive influence: communities experienced increased access to resources, gained knowledge of democratic processes, benefited from the increased capacity of local government, and became more involved in volunteering and civil society groups.


CSD assisted the Taipei City government with policy and research design for its Taipei Family Development Account (TFDA) pilot program. The three-year program, implemented in 2000, was modeled after U.S.-based Individual Development Account (IDA) programs. Research in the TFDA demonstrates that low-income families in Taipei can accumulate assets for the future and that saving incentives play an important role in these families' long-term saving and investment plans.

This CSD Civic Service Research Fellows study uses Social Network Analysis as a tool to assess the effect of national service programs at the community level. Specifically, the study measures the community-level impacts of the work accomplished by AmeriCorps volunteers in three U.S. cities. The findings show that the program can increase social capital by diversifying and bridging community network ties.


The Mission Continues Fellowship Program, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, challenges post-9/11 veterans to continue to serve their country and communities after their military service has ended. The CSD initiative conducted a study involving nearly 500 veterans in more than 400 nonprofit organizations and in 42 states from 2010 through 2012. The aim of this initiative, in collaboration with The Mission Continues, is to assess the perceived personal, social, and family impacts of participating in the organization’s Fellowship Program.

This CSD Civic Service Research Fellows study investigates the Technical Aids Corps (TAC) Scheme, established by Nigeria in 1987 to provide human development assistance to African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries as a "practical demonstration of South-South cooperation." Using in-depth interviews, the research explores factors that encourage participation in civic service, the effect of TAC on servers' civic nationalism, and the program's impact on recipient and server communities.


This CSD Civic Service Research Fellows study investigates the relationship between service and citizenship in Nepal. Although Nepal has a long cultural tradition of service, the increasing presence of foreign volunteers has eroded citizens' sense of self-reliance. In addition, political instability in the country has estranged youth who might otherwise serve as volunteers in their communities. Using surveys, in-depth interviews, and focus groups, the study examines whether Nepal's National Development Volunteer Service enhances civic engagement, especially among the nation's youth.


Little is known about service-learning opportunities available to urban youth through their public schools or about the differences between these opportunities and those available to suburban youth. CSD is conducting a comparative study of the scope and nature of service learning in urban and suburban schools and across socio-economic levels. Using the 2004 Growing to Greatness national survey data on 517 urban schools and 725 suburban schools, the study uses comparative and descriptive analysis techniques.


The United Way of Greater St. Louis, in partnership with community-based implementing organizations and key technical assistance providers, implemented an IDA Pilot Program (UW IDA Pilot Program) to explore one way in which to build assets in low-income households and communities. The UW IDA Pilot Program design was based on nationwide best practices in addition to input from local implementing organizations and technical assistance providers.

This CSD Civic Service Research Fellows study investigates the characteristics and motivations of youth who serve in German's voluntary cultural year. In particular, the authors explore the role of social training and the presence of role models in influencing youth's perceptions of civic service and cultural institutions. Results suggest that the voluntary cultural year may have positive impacts on participating adolescents, enhancing social and cultural competence, supporting cultural institutions, providing exposure to career options, and supporting a stronger relationship with cultural institutions and their impact on social development.


Funded by the International Forum for Volunteering in Development, Benjamin Lough is developing a shadow framework of indicators for the 17 new sustainable development goals (SDGs) to measure volunteers' contributions to these goals.  The framework will be used for regular submission to the UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

This CSD Civic Service Research Fellows study explores the organizational factors that promote long-term civic service engagement at Habitat for Humanity International programs in Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Guyana. Using qualitative and quantitative techniques, the research focuses on what aspects of the volunteer experience have the most effect on volunteers and their motivation to continue volunteering. Findings provide insight into how organizations can increase long-term volunteer recruitment and retention in Latin America and the Caribbean.


A strong democracy depends on a guarantee that all Americans deserve and have the right to vote. Unfortunately, political trends in voter suppression are alarming. We use our expertise to assess and test practical innovations that remove barriers to voting and enhance voter participation. Role of social workers in voting Historically, a vital role for social workers is advocating for the human rights of people by employing voter registration and education as a method to fight for social justice. Social workers have been on the forefronts of many movements such as the Women’s Suffrage Movement, and have also provided leadership for equal access to voting by race with the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act of the 1960s. Defending the rights of individuals is an integral component of social work practice. CSD’s goal is to build innovative strategies to change and improve opportunities to vote. Our core value solutions Collaboration – Build partnerships with groups to address issues that promote voter inclusion and participation through innovation and research Inclusion – Increase public awareness and engagement concerning voter inclusion, participation, and state voting laws Innovation – Support agencies that are working for voter inclusion to build the next generation of voter protectors Data-driven – Define and build a research agenda to collect data regarding voter participation policies Our approach The Center for Social Development seeks to uphold and protect voting rights of all American citizens through research and social innovation. The focus of this new initiative is to: Examine practices and policies Investigate social conditions that threaten the right to vote Test strategies for inclusive participation in the voting process Learn more See the concept paper for VAE.

As industry has replaced agriculture in much of the country, rural America has experienced a hollowing out of assets. In addition, rural communities have struggled to maintain economic, social, and political stability while suffering major declines in population. The Wealth Building in Rural America project conducted research on asset development in rural America, with a focus on underserved populations, such as people of color, immigrants, and people with disabilities.
 
Funding provided by F.B. Heron Foundation, National Rural Funders Collaborative, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and CSD data on state welfare policy, the Welfare Reform project tests the role of state welfare asset limits on low-income households' ability to build assets. In particular, this project focuses on the relationship between asset-means tests in AFDC/TANF and asset accumulations among low-income households.
 

In this research, CSD investigates the forms and nature of youth civic service worldwide, and measures its impacts on volunteers and the individuals and communities they serve.

This study assesses the status of youth volunteer service in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), such as who serves and is served, the programs' goals and activities, administrative structures, and organizational sponsors. Data for this research come from a cross-sectional survey of youth volunteer service programs in 12 countries across the LAC region. Evidence suggests that youth volunteer service has the potential to serve as a broader strategy for social and economic development.
 
Funding provided by the Ford Foundation and Inter-American Development Bank.

CSD is part of a global consortium supported by the MasterCard Foundation that piloted a youth savings initiative in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, and Nepal. In addition to CSD, the consortium includes Save the Children, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), and the New America Foundation. The goal of the five-year project is to understand the conditions for sustainable delivery of savings products and services that can substantially improve the life chances of low-income youth in the developing world, and transfer this knowledge to those in a position to support their accessibility and quality.