to help schools address substance use
The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation launched Prevention Matters in 2018 to help Marion County schools identify, implement and sustain proven substance use prevention programs. Programs used as part of the initiative were chosen for their demonstrated ability to equip students with skills that not only help them avoid drugs and alcohol, but also help improve their academic achievement, attendance, classroom behavior and social and emotional well-being. Further, these programs have been shown to reduce bullying and violence.
Through Prevention Matters, the Foundation committed more than $13.5 million over four years to implement evidence-based prevention programs in Marion County public (traditional, charter and innovation network) and accredited private K-12 schools.
A list of the 27 Prevention Matters grantees and the programs they implemented is available here.
Evidence-based prevention programs help students avoid substance use and improve other outcomes, too:
LESS LIKELY TO INITIATE USE OF HEROIN, CRACK AND COCAINE*
LESS LIKELY TO SMOKE LONG TERM**
LESS LIKELY TO USE MARIJUANA LONG TERM**
HIGHER MATH SCORES ON STATE TESTS***
MORE LIKELY TO GRADUATE HIGH SCHOOL*
MORE LIKELY TO ATTEND COLLEGE*
DROP IN DELINQUENCY**
DROP IN FIGHTING**
PROGRAM IMPACT AND LESSONS LEARNED
At scale, Prevention Matters funding served 27 Indianapolis school districts, charter school networks and individual schools in their delivery of proven prevention programs in 159 schools, reaching more than 83,400 students annually.
All programs put into practice through the Prevention Matters initiative have proven to be effective in preventing substance use or building skills that have been shown to prevent substance use. As grantees continue effective implementation, these prevention programs will allow students to gain skills to avoid substance use later in life.
of grantees reported positive program impacts.
of implementers (i.e., teachers or counselors teaching the program) felt the program improved student self-awareness.
of implementers felt the program improved student social awareness.
of implementers felt the program improved student self-management and self-regulation.
of implementers felt the program improved student relationship skills.
Through the program’s four-year implementation, the Fairbanks Foundation identified key lessons about effective program implementation. These key lessons, which are summarized below and explained at length in the Prevention Matters program summary document, include:
- It is important to select a program that is a strong match for students.
- Program staffing should be purposeful and adaptable.
- Implementer training is critical.
- Effective planning, monitoring and feedback contribute to high-quality implementation.
- Adaptations can help educators incorporate programs into their culture and meet student needs, but it is important to implement the program as designed.
- External funding is especially key when starting programs.
- To sustain a program, it is critical to integrate it into school culture and daily operations.
- Grantees cultivated school and district buy-in, which increased the likelihood of sustainability.
To learn more about the program’s impact and how the lessons learned can be used by school administrators and other educators to implement successful substance use prevention programs, read the program summary.
Grants were awarded in two stages:
Planning grants of up to $40,000 were made available to Marion County schools to learn more about evidence-based prevention programs and develop detailed plans for effective implementation. Planning grants were awarded on a non-competitive basis, meaning that all schools that met eligibility criteria and applied received a planning grant.
Forty-four schools received planning grants in March 2018 and were provided access to expert assistance to help develop detailed plans for implementing evidence-based prevention programs.
Planning grant recipients were eligible to apply for three years of funding to implement their plan for an evidence-based prevention program. This stage was competitive, meaning that grants were awarded selectively to schools that developed a comprehensive and realistic plan to implement prevention programs and sustain these programs long-term.
The Foundation connected planning grant recipients with prevention experts who provided free, step-by-step guidance to help: 1) identify the proven prevention program that best meets the needs of each applicant’s students, staff and school environment and 2) develop a plan for sustainable implementation.
In their applications, successful Prevention Matters implementation grant recipients:
- Highlighted the many challenges students face both inside and outside of their schools and demonstrated a commitment to supporting students’ physical and emotional health as they mature.
- Exhibited a commitment to implementing evidence-based substance use prevention programs as designed and developed detailed, realistic plans for implementation that reflected an understanding of the programs that work best for their students, staff and school environment.
- Expressed a willingness to monitor the effectiveness of the programs through evaluation.
The Foundation awarded implementation grants to twenty-seven school districts, charter school networks, and individual schools to deliver proven prevention programs in their schools. In April 2021, the Foundation invited grantees to apply for a one-year Prevention Matters grant extension to minimize the long-term impact of COVID-19 on prevention programs, help solidify program implementation and strengthen sustainability planning.
For a summary of the grantees that implemented programs through Prevention Matters, please see the list of Prevention Matters Implementation and Grant Extension Award Recipients.
YOUTH EMERGING STRONGER (YES!) SUMMIT
To assist educators in planning for, implementing and sustaining substance use prevention and mental health programs, the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation co-hosted the Youth Emerging Stronger (YES!) Summit on June 14, 2023. More than 325 Indiana school leaders, educators and philanthropic partners spent the day discussing ways to support student well-being and success.
Outcomes and lessons learned from the Fairbanks Foundation’s Prevention Matters initiative were featured prominently in the event. Fairbanks Foundation staff led the Summit’s content track designed to provide guidance to funders looking to support similar initiatives, and Prevention Matters grantees discussed the success and challenges they encountered.
The YES! Summit was held in partnership with the Indiana Department of Education, the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction, the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte, and North Central Health Services who have a shared commitment to tackling the youth mental health and substance use crisis.
For additional resources or information related to the Prevention Matters planning or grants process, please contact Sarah Hawkins, Senior Program Officer, at Hawkins@RMFF.org or (317) 663-4185.
Prevention Matters Overview and Purpose
Prevention Matters Summary of Program Impact and Lessons Learned
- Prevention Matters Program Summary summarizes the impact of the four-year Prevention Matters program and the lessons learned through its implementation.
Funding and Implementing Successful Evidence-Based Prevention Programs
- Lessons Learned: Funding School-Based Substance Use Prevention Programs and Mental Health Initiatives provides guidance on planning, supporting and evaluating prevention-focused grant programs and initiatives. Co-authored by the Fairbanks Foundation and funders of similar programs, this document is designed to help other funders support their schools and communities in this work. This report includes a list of sample grant ideas to support school-based prevention and mental health initiatives.
- The Student Prevention and Mental Health Programs/Initiatives Toolkit on the Indiana Department of Education’s Learning Lab provides schools with step-by-step guidance and templates to plan for, implement and sustain evidence-based prevention and mental health programs/initiatives. School leaders may create a free Indiana Learning Lab account to access the tools.
- Sample Costs for School-Based Substance Use Prevention and Mental Wellbeing Programs provides a list of costs schools may incur when implementing evidence-based substance use prevention and mental wellbeing initiatives.
Prevention Matters Final Evaluation
- Prevention Matters Final Evaluation Report – Executive Summary summarizes the findings of the four-year Prevention Matters external evaluation conducted by RTI International.
- Prevention Matters Final Evaluation Report, prepared by RTI International, provides information on Prevention Matters implementation and outcomes, including successes, challenges and lessons learned from the 2021-22 school year and over the course of the entire initiative.
Prevention Matters Evaluation Reports and Lessons Learned, Years 1-3
These documents provide RTI International’s annual evaluation reports, as well as the Foundation’s lessons learned during each year of Prevention Matters implementation.
Prevention Matters Evidence-Based Program Guide
- Prevention Matters Evidence-Based Program Guide describes the approved evidence-based substance use prevention programs for Prevention Matters.
Prevention Matters Funding Guidelines
Prevention Matters for Parents
- Prevention Matters Parent Handout will help schools communicate with parents about Prevention Matters.