Proven programs
to help schools address substance use
What Is
Prevention Matters?

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 nearly $12 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 177 Indianapolis schools delivering proven prevention programs to 77,500 students by the 2020-2021 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**
lower absenteeism***
higher math scores on state tests***
more likely to graduate high school*
more likely to attend college*
drop in delinquency**
drop in fighting**
*PAX Good Behavior Game, **LifeSkills Training, ***Positive Action

Grants Awarded

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.

Implementation GRANTS

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:

Twenty-seven implementation grant recipients are delivering proven prevention programs in their schools during the 2019-2020 school year.

For a summary of the grantees that are implementing programs through Prevention Matters, please see the list of Prevention Matters Implementation Grant Award Recipients.

Learning From Year One Implementation

As a part of Prevention Matters, the Fairbanks Foundation commissioned a program 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 survey responses from and interviews with grantees, the Foundation identified the top five tips for schools and districts on effective program implementation.

TIPS for schools and districts on effective implementation

  1. Involve multiple school team members – counselors, teachers, administrators and more – to coordinate program implementation so there is a strong team supporting change in culture and school practices such as scheduling and curriculum planning. This also ensures continuity in case of staffing turnover.
  2. Build buy-in with stakeholders such as teachers, students and parents early in the process and communicate often with these stakeholders.
  3. Spend meaningful time training teachers in evidence-based prevention programming. This upfront investment in training will ensure higher quality implementation of curriculum.
  4. There are technical assistance providers that can provide expertise to support schools’ implementation efforts. The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation has selected national experts in school-based prevention programs to provide ongoing support to all Prevention Matters schools. The schools that take full advantage of technical assistance report higher success rates.
  5. In order to achieve the greatest impact, prevention programs must be delivered according to curriculum design standards, such as delivering all lessons in the intended sequence and to the proper grade level and student population.


For additional resources or information related to the Prevention Matters planning or grants process, please contact Sarah Hawkins, Senior Program Officer, at or 317-663-4185.

Prevention Matters Remote Learning Resources

Due to the impact COVID-19 has had on schools’ daily schedules, the Foundation has compiled a list of modified implementation guidance from the Prevention Matters curriculum developers. This guidance will be updated as relevant to ensure grantees have the most up-to-date guidance.

Prevention Matters Overview and Year One Learning

This document provides an overview of Prevention Matters, including the initiative’s impact at scale, timeline for implementation, and tips for schools and districts on effective implementation.

Prevention Matters Year One Evaluation Report

This document, created by RTI, provides insight into the first year of Prevention Matters implementation, including early successes, challenges, and lessons learned from year one. The Foundation contracted RTI to conduct a full program evaluation of Prevention Matters.

Prevention Matters Evidence-Based Program Guide

This document, created by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center, describes the approved evidence-based substance use prevention programs for Prevention Matters. A stand-alone table of approved programs is available here, and an Excel version, which allows sorting and filtering, is available here. A table describing how approved programs align with Indiana state standards is available here.

Prevention Matters Request for Proposals

This document provides a detailed overview of the Prevention Matters initiative and grant application instructions.

Prevention Matters Frequently Asked Questions

This document addresses many questions applicants may have about the Prevention Matters initiative.

Why School-Based Prevention?

This document provides school leaders, teachers and other potential applicants with a brief overview of Prevention Matters.

Prevention Matters For Parents

This document will help schools communicate with parents about Prevention Matters.


Additional questions may be directed to Sarah Hawkins, Senior Program Officer, at or 317-663-4185.