to help schools address substance use
Prevention Matters is a four-year grant initiative launched by the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation in 2018 to help Marion County schools identify, implement and sustain proven substance use prevention programs. Proven programs 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. These programs can also help reduce bullying and violence.
Through Prevention Matters, the Foundation has committed more than $13 million to implement evidence-based prevention programs in public (traditional, charter and innovation network) and accredited private K-12 schools in Marion County. Prevention Matters funding is projected to serve 157 Indianapolis schools delivering proven prevention programs to 82,602 students by the 2021-2022 school year.
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**
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 are implementing programs through Prevention Matters, please see the list of Prevention Matters Implementation and Grant Extension Award Recipients.
LEARNINGS FROM YEAR THREE IMPLEMENTATION
As a part of Prevention Matters, the Fairbanks Foundation conducts an annual evaluation to 1) measure the impact and benefit of the initiative and 2) identify early challenges in order to provide additional support to address these issues moving forward.
Through the evaluation process, which included a report from grantees and from the Foundation’s technical assistance provider, as well as a rigorous third-party evaluation, the Foundation identified tips for schools and districts on effective program implementation.
LESSONS FOR SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION
- Leadership Matters: Schools require consistent support and buy-in from school leadership to successfully implement and sustain their prevention programming. Documenting and sharing program impact strengthens staff and administrator buy-in, which is critical to long-term program sustainability.
- Build A Strong Base of Support: It is important to share prevention program responsibilities among a committee or taskforce. This minimizes the disruption caused by teacher turnover and helps spread enthusiasm for the prevention program throughout the school community.
- Set Clear Implementation Goals: Embedding a new program into a school’s culture can be difficult, so schools should start small and scale program implementation over time. A step-by-step implementation plan with clear goals will ensure all teachers remain focused on high-quality program implementation.
- Regularly Monitor Implementation and Measure Impact: Tracking program success allows schools to continuously improve their prevention instruction. Staff should provide routine observations and feedback to ensure high-quality program implementation and regularly collect student outcomes data to assess program impact.
- Consistency is Key: Schools can ensure consistency of their instruction by using district-wide lesson plans, fidelity checklists and/or online lesson completion trackers.
- Plan for Sustainability: Long-term program sustainability is dependent on prioritizing prevention programming in school and district budgets.
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.
Additional questions may be directed to Sarah Hawkins, Senior Program Officer, at Hawkins@rmff.org or (317)663-4185.