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What is Blueprints?

Blueprints is a project within the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. It identifies, recommends, and disseminates interventions that, based on scientific evaluations, have strong evidence of effectiveness. It also produces publications on the importance of adopting high scientific standards when evaluating what works. Blueprints serves as a resource for governmental agencies, schools, foundations, and community organizations trying to make informed decisions about their investments in social and crime prevention interventions. The ultimate goal of the Blueprints initiative is to reduce antisocial behavior and promote a healthy course of youth development and adult maturity.

What kind of interventions does Blueprints examine?

Blueprints began with a focus on youth interventions to prevent violence, delinquency, and drug use, but it has expanded its scope. It now also recommends youth interventions to improve mental and physical health, self-regulation, and educational achievement outcomes. We also examine interventions designed to reduce crime, with an emphasis on identifying high-quality studies of interventions shown to reduce the risk of reoffending or other outcomes associated with recidivism, including employment, mental health and substance use. The outcomes of interest involve interventions that are effective in reducing antisocial behavior and promoting a healthy course of youth development and adult maturity.

When did Blueprints begin?

Blueprints began in 1996 with funding from the state of Colorado, with subsequent funding from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and a focus on prevention of youth violence, crime, and drug use. With funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Blueprints began focusing on a wide variety of outcomes relating to positive youth development. With funding from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, we further expanded our scope to include a focus on interventions designed to reduce crime, with an emphasis on identifying high-quality studies of interventions shown to reduce the risk of reoffending. To encompass the diverse outcomes, our name has shifted over time from Blueprints for Violence Prevention to Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development.

Why is Blueprints needed?

Demand for effective interventions to prevent violence and crime and foster healthy development continues to grow. Across the world, organizations sponsor a raft of well-intentioned interventions. Yet, very few of them have evidence demonstrating their effectiveness, and many are implemented with little consistency or quality control. Unproven interventions not only waste scarce resources but also can do harm. Blueprints promotes only those interventions with strong scientific evidence of effectiveness.

How is Blueprints different from other program rating sites?

Blueprints’ standards for recommending an intervention are widely recognized as the most rigorous in use. Programs undergo two thorough reviews, one by Blueprints staff and one by an expert advisory board. Of the programs assessed to date, less than 5 percent have qualified for Blueprints certification. Blueprints also does more than other rating sites to ensure that its recommended programs are “dissemination” ready (that is, they are ready to be used). We also factor replication into our standards for certification, consider outcomes across multiple domains (health, education, delinquency, crime, etc.) and are not associated with or funded by a government site.

How do we know what works?

Scientific studies are the key to knowing what works. Blueprints reviews research studies and the quality of their evidence of intervention effectiveness. We look for strong methodological grounding, clearly defined goals, and reliably positive results. However, we depend ultimately on research done by scholars throughout the country and world.

How are interventions selected?

Blueprints staff members continually search the scientific literature for studies of social interventions. They next review the studies to identify those that are exemplary in methods and grounded in evidence. The interventions that meet the standards of the preliminary review then undergo a final review and recommendation from an advisory board. The final review certifies that recommended interventions meet rigorous requirements for evaluation and effectiveness.

What criteria does Blueprints use in selecting interventions?

Blueprints considers four criteria:

– Evaluation quality—Can we be confident in an intervention’s evaluation?

– Intervention impact—How much positive change in key behavioral outcomes can be attributed to the intervention?

– Intervention specificity—Is the intervention focused, practical, and logical?

– Dissemination readiness—Does the intervention have the necessary support and information to be successfully implemented?

Interventions certified by Blueprints meet all four criteria. Visit our criteria page for a more detailed description.

What is the difference between a rating of promising and model?

Both Promising and Model interventions meet basic Blueprints standards, but interventions that receive a model rating meet additional requirements. Promising interventions must have evidence from one high-quality experimental or two high-quality quasi-experimental designs, clear findings of positive impact, carefully defined goals, and sufficient resources to help users. Model interventions must have evidence from two high-quality experimental or one experimental and one quasi-experimental design of high quality, and in addition to the above criteria (positive impact, defined goals, dissemination capacity), have a sustained impact at least 12 months after the intervention ends. Model interventions which have conducted a high-quality “independent” replication have been labeled as Model Plus. Model and Model Plus interventions are deemed ready for widespread use. Learn more about Blueprints program standards.

Why are Blueprints standards so high?

With the thorough and rigorous evaluations, users of Blueprints interventions can have confidence in the ability of the recommended programs to change targeted behavioral outcomes. When delivered appropriately, the interventions will improve the well-being of children, youth, families and communities, and have no hidden requirements in terms of money or staff.

Who selects Blueprints interventions?

A distinguished advisory board that is comprised of experts in the field of prevention, intervention and evaluation has the final say. This independent board reviews and selects interventions it views as meeting the Blueprints standards.

Can I see a list of Blueprints interventions?

Yes. The Blueprints program search is a complete registry of interventions. You can filter by several search options. 

Can I nominate an intervention for Blueprints consideration?

Yes. Blueprints staff continually comb research literature to look for evaluations of new interventions and new evaluations of old interventions but may miss some. We welcome suggestions for interventions to review. Please visit our Nominate an Intervention page for details.

How does Blueprints disseminate its recommended interventions?

Our comprehensive registry aims to make it easy for schools, communities, and public agencies to find the interventions best suited for the population they want to help. It includes information on how each intervention works, the kinds of evaluations it has undergone, and the outcomes it has produced.

How can I learn more about recommended interventions?

For more detail, Blueprints lists the links to websites of the developers of the recommended interventions. In addition, Blueprints hosts an international conference every other year to promote our standards and motivate the adoption of evidence-based interventions. The conference provides support, guidance, and tools to help evaluators design high-quality studies and practitioners implement interventions successfully in their own communities.

How can I select an intervention best suited for my community?

Our comprehensive registry of programs allows users to search for interventions that fit a particular need. For instance, after selecting the kind of outcome or risk/protective factor to be changed, the target population, and the type of intervention, the search will identify interventions that fit those needs. Users can also use keywords to search. The search can be done interactively and revised easily.

Can I get help in finding funding?

Blueprints itself does not provide funding. However, where possible, information on funding opportunities is included with the description of each of the recommended interventions.

Who can answer my questions?

Questions about specific programs can best be directed to the intervention developers (see contact information for each). For general questions about Blueprints, our policies and practices, and use of our website, email us at


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.