Building Interconnected Prevention Systems to Address Substance Misuse Using PROSPER

Duration: 2020 - 2022
Funding: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Principal Investigator: Janet Welsh
Partners: Pennsylvania Drug Enforcement Agency, Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Penn State College of Engineering, Commonwealth Prevention Alliance

middle school students standing in front of school


PROSPER is a substance-use prevention program that has been running for nearly two decades in Pennsylvania and Iowa. PROSPER — short for promoting school-community-university partnerships to enhance resilience — targets middle school students before they start using substances and helps them and their families build the skills needed to avoid substance use. Multiple studies have demonstrated that high school students in PROSPER communities are less likely to misuse opioids, drink alcohol and smoke than students from non-PROSPER communities. Currently, PROSPER coalitions are working in 18 communities across the state.  

Project aims include:  

  • Continue to deliver high-quality, evidence-based prevention programs for youth and families utilizing a community coalition approach led by Penn State Extension. Coalition members include representatives from the school districts, mental health and substance abuse agencies, local business members, clergy, law enforcement, parents, and youth.
  • Provide additional supports to grandparents serving as primary caregivers.
  • Improve the use of drug take-back programs and the quality of data gathered from the programs.
  • Promote the dissemination of effective prevention messaging across Pennsylvania.
  • Provide online prevention-related resources for community stakeholders and online prevention education and family support.
  • Produce a robust mapping of the system of substance use prevention-oriented program delivery entities in the Commonwealth that will be used within Pennsylvania and shared with other states as a model, to create efficiencies and reduce redundancies.
  • Train new PROSPER team leaders and prevention coordinators, using newly-developed materials and procedures that are designed to be scalable and cost-effective.

Project Team