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Blueprints Process for Selecting Programs

Blueprints’ standards for program certification are recognized as the most rigorous in the field. Many registries solicit nominations and review only those studies submitted by the program developers, potentially omitting studies with null results. Blueprints not only reviews nominated programs, but also performs an exhaustive search of the literature each month to identify programs addressing outcomes of interest (delinquency, substance use, emotional and physical well-being, academic success, and positive relationships). All program evaluations are considered in creating a detailed write-up covering the program description, target audience, risk and protective factors, evaluation methodology, outcomes, generalizability, and limitations of each evaluation. Blueprints staff conduct an initial review of the program. Programs that pass this screening advance to an external review conducted by the Blueprints Advisory Board.

Blueprints Programs must meet the following criteria:

  1. Evaluation quality. Studies must be of sufficient methodological quality to confidently attribute results to the program.
  2. Intervention impact. The preponderance of evidence from the high-quality evaluations indicates significant positive change in intended outcomes that can be attributed to the program, and there is no evidence of harmful effects.
  3. Intervention specificity. The program description clearly identifies the intended outcome, specific risk and/or protective factors targeted to produce this change in outcome, the population for which the program is intended, and how intervention components work to produce this change.
  4. Dissemination readiness. The program is available for dissemination and has the organizational capability, manuals, training, technical assistance, and other support required for implementation with fidelity in communities and public service systems. Cost information and monitoring tools also are available.

Programs meeting the four criteria above are rated as Promising, Model, or Model Plus. Promising programs meet the minimum standard of effectiveness. Model and Model Plus programs meet a higher standard and provide greater confidence in the capacity to change targeted behavior and developmental outcomes.

  • Promising Programs: Minimum of one high-quality randomized controlled trial (RCT) or two high-quality quasi-experimental evaluations.
  • Model Programs: Minimum of two high-quality RCTs, or one high-quality randomized controlled trial plus one high-quality quasi-experimental evaluation. Additionally, positive intervention impact sustained for a minimum of 12 months after the program intervention ends.
  • Model Plus Programs: Model criteria, plus independent replication conducted by a researcher who is neither a current or past member of the program developer’s research team and who has no financial interest in the program.

Return to Blueprints Bulletin Issue 2. May 2017.


Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development
University of Colorado Boulder
Institute of Behavioral Science
UCB 483, Boulder, CO 80309


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Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development is
currently funded by Arnold Ventures (formerly the Laura and John Arnold Foundation) and historically has received funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.