Headshot of Sarah Chilenski

Sarah Chilenski

Associate Research Professor

314-599-3737
sem268@psu.edu
Pronouns: she/her

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Introduction & Projects

I am passionate about promoting strong community collaboration to promote healthy youth development.”

Sarah Chilenski has worked in prevention research and evaluation for more than 20 years. She became interested in the field after working with children led her to question the role that communities play in youth development and how community programs can be a source of support for those in need.

As Associate Research Professor, Dr. Chilenski focuses on how communities, schools, and universities can collaborate in the pursuit of quality youth prevention programming. Her current applied community research projects focus on:

  • community collaboration
  • technical assistance for community coalition models supporting public health
  • dissemination of evidence-based programs and sustainability, and 
  • community context-related youth outcomes.

Dr. Chilenski has played major research roles in projects such as PROSPER and Communities That Care, and leads the process evaluation for the Evidence2Success® framework. The recently-funded Coalition Check-Up project will further her work by testing the feasibility of proactive, regular, relationship-based, data-informed, and coalition-driven technical assistance system for community prevention and health promotion coalitions. She aims to examine youth outcomes of community prevention activities while using data to help empower participating communities.

Dr. Chilenski has authored 25 peer-reviewed journal articles that have appeared in American Journal of Community Psychology, Prevention Science, Evaluation and Program Planning, and Journal of Research in Rural and Community Development, among others.


Prevention-related Projects

Recent Publications

Going the distance: Technical assistance to community prevention coalitions and its impact on prevention coalitions over time

Chilenski, S. M., Welsh, J. A., Perkins, D. F., & Hoffman, L. (2020). Going the distance: Technical assistance to community prevention coalitions and its impact on prevention coalitions over time. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/cpb0000180

Invitation to Pennsylvania substance abuse coalitions to increase member engagement and positive impact on youth behavior

This is a special invitation for the chance to receive 3 years of customized support from coalition experts to increase member participation and streamline your work to focus on activities that will have the biggest impact on youth outcomes. Other benefits may include increasing connections to coalition networks and accessing additional relevant resources.

A road map to quality collective impact programming with fiscal independence: The Providence Children and Youth Cabinet story

Chilenski, S. M., & Chrisler, A. J. (2019). A road map to quality collective impact programming with fiscal independence: The Providence Children and Youth Cabinet story. University Park, PA: Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, The Pennsylvania State University. 28 pp. Annie E. Casey Foundation Grant #212.0235, to PI Chilenski. Abstract: This report examines how Rhode Island’s Providence Children and Youth Cabinet (CYC) has changed since adopting the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Evidence2Success® framework seven years ago. During this time frame, CYC — a coalition of organizations, systems, residents and youth organized around community-generated priorities — transitioned from backbone organization to agile and independent intermediary. CYC’s evolution generated valuable insights — identified and explored in this report — that can help other collective impact programs pursue sustainability and fiscal independence.

Public health benefits 16 years after a statewide policy change: Communities That Care in Pennsylvania

Chilenski, S. M., Frank, J., Summers, N., & Lew, D. (2019). Public health benefits 16 years after a statewide policy change: Communities That Care in Pennsylvania. Prevention Science, 20, 947-958.

Examining the highs and lows of the collaborative relationship between technical assistance providers and prevention implementers

Chilenski, S. M., Welsh, J., Olson, J., Hoffman, L., Perkins, D., & Feinberg, M. E. (2018). Examining the highs and lows of the collaborative relationship between technical assistance providers and prevention implementers. Prevention Science, 19, 250-259.

Drug prevention coalition context and capacity assessment: Comparing the United States and Mexico

Brown, L., Chilenski, S., Ramos, R., Gallegos, N., & Feinberg, M. E. (2016). Drug prevention coalition context and capacity assessment: Comparing the United States and Mexico. Health Education and Behavior, 43(2), 145-155. doi: 10.1177/1090198115596165

The value of social capital: What are its outcomes?

Chilenski, S. M., & Summers, N. M. (2016). The value of social capital: What are its outcomes? In T. Gullotta & M. Bloom (Eds.), Social capital: A blueprint for engaging citizens to promote the social and civic health of communities. New York: Springer.

The power of a collaborative relationship between technical assistance providers and community prevention teams: A correlational and longitudinal study

Chilenski, S., Perkins, D. F., Olson, J. R., Hoffman, L., Feinberg, M. E., Greenberg, M. T., Welsh, J. A., Crowley, D. M., & Spoth, R. L. (2016). The power of a collaborative relationship between technical assistance providers and community prevention teams: A correlational and longitudinal study. Evaluation and Program Planning, 54(1), 19-29. doi:10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2015.10.002

Universal prevention exposure as a moderator of the community context: Findings from the PROSPER project

Chilenski, S., Welsh, J. A., Perkins, D. F., Feinberg, M. E., & Greenberg, M. T. (2016). Universal prevention exposure as a moderator of the community context: Findings from the PROSPER project. American Journal of Community Psychology, 57(12), 819. doi: 00910562

Thriving in school: The role of sixth grade adolescent-parent-school relationships in predicting eighth grade academic outcomes

Welsh, J. A., Chilenski, S., Johnson, L. E., Perkins, D. F., Greenberg, M. T., Berrena, E., & Spoth, R. L. (2016, In Press). Thriving in school: The role of sixth grade adolescent-parent-school relationships in predicting eighth grade academic outcomes. Youth & Society.

Pathways to sustainability: 8-year follow-up from the PROSPER project

Welsh, J. A., Chilenski, S., Johnson, L., Greenberg, M. T., & Spoth, R. L. (2016). Pathways to sustainability: 8-year follow-up from the PROSPER project. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 37(3), 263-286. doi: 0278095X

Related News

cover for the guide to funding and sustaining prevention in communities

October 26, 2021

New guide to funding and sustaining prevention in communities

The Funding Prevention in Communities: Lessons From Evidence2Success report, written by Margaret Flynn-Khan, Lynn Tiede, and Katherine Gaughen of Mainspring Consulting, aims to help community coalitions fund and sustain evidence-based prevention programs to promote healthy child development on a large scale. It focuses on communities that have implemented the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Evidence2Success® framework and shares their successes, challenges, and lessons from the field.

Read more.
Sarah Chilenski sitting with her trophy for the 2021 'Service to SPR' award

June 03, 2021

PRC researcher a co-recipient of the 'Service to SPR' award

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February 22, 2021

Prevention coalitions benefit from regular technical assistance, new study shows

There is powerful evidence that regularly scheduled contact between technical assistance providers and community prevention coalitions is important to the coalitions’ success, according to a new study led by Sarah Chilenski, Senior Research Associate and Associate Research Professor at the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center (PRC). 

Read more.
Image of Med-Return Box for Drug Take-Back Program

November 30, 2020

Building bridges to improve drug misuse prevention

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Many agencies at the national, state and local levels are working to address the nation’s drug and alcohol misuse crisis. While this provides numerous opportunities for individuals to receive support, efforts across these agencies are often not closely coordinated.

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photos of Mark Feinberg, Taylor Scott and Greg Fosco

November 23, 2020

Video: Penn State prevention researchers respond to COVID-19

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Professional development goals

September 09, 2020

Society for Prevention Research members weigh in on professional development needs

In order to serve the professional development needs of its members, the Society for Prevention Research (SPR) recently convened a training needs assessment task force, led by PRC Senior Research Associate Sarah Chilenksi, who surveyed SPR members about the professional development topics and delivery mechanisms that they would be mostly likely to choose. The results were shared recently in the journal Prevention Science, and will be used to guide SPR professional development offerings for the next 5-10 years.  

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Percentage graphic

October 09, 2019

Communities That Care prevention system helps to protect youth, study finds

Students in Pennsylvania school districts that participated in Communities that Care (CTC) coalitions were significantly less likely to use alcohol or marijuana, or to engage in delinquent behavior, than those in non-CTC districts, according to a recent study published in Prevention Science.

Read more.