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Issue No. 27

Welcome to the Blueprints Bulletin

December 2023

As 2023 ends, Blueprints is reflecting upon our mission and purpose. This month’s newsletter highlights Blueprints’ focus, which is on prevention of health-risk behaviors and promotion of positive functioning for youth.

What is Upstream Prevention?

Over thirty years of prevention research has demonstrated that it is possible to reduce negative health outcomes including violence, suicide, and substance misuse before they ever start. This was nicely summarized recently by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Determining and addressing the root causes and conditions that contribute to negative health outcomes is known as Upstream Prevention. Preventing negative outcomes before they ever occur and promoting positive behaviors requires looking upstream to examine what underlying conditions are important to address so the problem never arises to begin with.

Common terms for these underlying conditions include social determinants of health or shared risk and protective factors. These upstream factors are facets of the environment in which people live, learn, work, and play.

What is Prevention Science?

Prevention science focuses on the development, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based strategies, programs, and policies that mitigate risk factors and strengthen protective factors to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, and communities. Prevention Science is a relatively new discipline (the Society for Prevention Research, for example, was founded in 1991). The field, however, has grown rapidly.

For more information, read the full prevention science statement published by the National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives.

What are Evidence-Based Prevention Programs?

Over the past 30+ years, prevention research has shown that systematically addressing the root causes of behavioral problems and promoting protective and supportive environments will steadily (and cost-effectively!) help people address ongoing challenges throughout life.

Research on periods of vulnerability during youth development and the kinds of social and environmental factors that increase risks associated with problem behaviors have led to the design and testing of numerous interventions that have been shown to reduce risk factors as well as increase protective factors. These evidence-based prevention interventions have multiple benefits including decreased or delayed problem behaviors and better mental health and social functioning in adolescence and young adulthood.

Prevention programs listed on the Blueprints website are implemented at individual, family, school, and community levels and are designed to improve child development, support families, and enhance school experiences. Blueprints focuses on outcomes that benefit youth across a wide range of domains, including child welfare, public health, mental health, educational attainment, and delinquency (click here for more information on Blueprints outcomes).

Prevention Resources

Several online resources explain prevention and/or offer guidance on how to understand the prevention framework:

  • This 3.5-minute animated video, produced by the Prevention Research Center at Colorado State University, answers the question: “What is Prevention Science?”
  • This short video defines “upstream prevention” and uses visual analogies to quickly illustrate concepts such as social determinants of health, risk and protective factors, and the spectrum of prevention.
  • The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), in collaboration with Penn State’s Evidence-based Prevention and Intervention Support (EPIS) project, has announced the launch of the Prevention Learning Portal, which is designed to help users apply evidence-based prevention approaches in their work and practice. As the website explains, “The portal serves as a one-stop-shop offering prevention resources, training, and self-paced learning programs.” All trainings and resources are offered in a free, online format.
  • ADAPT (A Division for Advancing Prevention & Treatment) published this brief, which identifies Blueprints as a source for locating evidence-based prevention programs. In addition, it (1) summarizes key lessons learned from prevention science that highlight what works to prevent substance use and promote positive development in youth, and (2) presents a five-phase approach to support the development and implementation of a comprehensive community-based prevention strategy. Further, this previous newsletter distributed by Blueprints highlights examples of effective frameworks for broad dissemination of Blueprints-certified prevention programs.

Blueprints’ focus

Launched in 1996, Blueprints is one of the longest-standing clearinghouses in the United States and around the world and the only registry solely focused on evidence-based prevention programs.

In preparing for 2024 and future work, we frequently reflect on our focus and role.

Blueprints’ mission is to identify, evaluate, and disseminate evidence about programs that prevent problem behaviors and promote healthy youth development.

We achieve our mission by:

  • Including a broad array of programs that address multiple behavioral outcomes for youth, including promoting social-emotional development, increasing educational attainment, reducing poor mental health (internalizing/externalizing) symptoms, and preventing juvenile delinquency and substance use/misuse. [Search programs].
  • Establishing rigorous standards for evidence and the certification of evidence-based prevention programs. These standards are focused on determining if a program works and is available for use. We update our standards as methods evolve. [Read more about Blueprints standards].
  • Certifying programs through a transparent process involving a thorough review of the evidence, consensus among a multi-disciplinary board of experts, and updating our registry as studies are published. [Read more about the Blueprints review process].
  • Providing information on certified programs through a free online and searchable registry, publications, posting on Facebook, Twitter/X, Instagram, and LinkedIn, newsletters, and engagement with communities, funders, policymakers, and government agencies.
  • Educating leaders and decision-makers in communities, schools and government about the importance of using evidence when selecting programs. We do this through publications, social media posts, interviews, presentations, and community partnerships. [Check Blueprints news & events].

In conducting our work, we value:

  • Partnership, which involves collaborating with communities, nonprofit organizations, practitioners, policymakers, schools, and other social institutions in the United States and around the world.
  • Transparency, which requires integrity and using open and ethical practices in our evidence reviews and outreach efforts.
  • Science and the use of rigorous, contextual, and experimental evidence.
  • Fostering diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice, which entails concerted efforts to undo the negative impact of systems of oppression experienced by underserved communities that have been denied equitable opportunities for creating the safety and stability needed to avoid adverse experiences in the first place.

Going forward (2024 and beyond)

Blueprints’ overarching goal is to generate clear research evidence so that it is useful across the decision-making process and can be actively utilized to support and align social policy actions and investments. In support of this goal, among our priorities for 2024 are to:

  • Identify the structural drivers of behavioral health disparities and maintain an inventory of evidence-based preventive programs for youth shown to advance behavioral health equity.
  • Provide easy access to meaningful evaluation findings and identify evidence gaps for historically underserved populations.
  • Communicate evaluation findings in context, which involves soliciting community voice and expanding upon the cultural relevance of programs listed on the Blueprints registry.

We welcome your ideas as we explore these enhancements to the Blueprints registry and thank you for your continued interest in and support of Blueprints.

Happy Holidays!


Pamela Buckley, PhD
PI, Blueprints Initiative

Karl G. Hill, PhD
Board Chair and Co-PI

Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development is developed and managed by the University of Colorado Boulder, Institute of Behavioral Science, with current support from Arnold Ventures and former funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Each intervention included in the database has been reviewed carefully by an independent advisory panel that looked at research on the intervention’s impact, practical focus and potential for implementation in public systems.

2023 in Review
By the numbers

Below is a summary of our year in review.

Interventions Reviewed & Certified in the Past Year:

  • Number of Unique Interventions Reviewed = 52
  • Number of Individual Articles or Reports Reviewed = 109
  • Number of Interventions Certified = 10

Wyman’s Teen Connection Project (Promising)
Added: Jan. 31, 2023
Learn more

CUNY Start (Promising)
Added: Feb. 6, 2023
Learn more

Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA) (Promising)
Added: Mar. 3, 2023
Learn more

Literacy First (Promising)
Added: Apr. 19, 2023
Learn more

ABC Project (Promising)
Added: June 27, 2023
Learn more

Project Personality (Promising)
Added: June 27, 2023
Learn more

SNAP® (Stop Now and Plan) Boys (Promising)
Added: June 27, 2023
Learn more

Cooperative Learning (Promising)
Added: July 31, 2023
Learn more

Coping Power Universal for Preschoolers (Promising)
Added: July 31, 2023
Learn more

Children of Divorce – Coping with Divorce (CoD-CoD) (Promising)
Added: Nov. 3, 2023
Learn more


Featured Model Program
Project Towards No Drug Abuse (TND)

Blueprints Certified: 1997

Ages Served: Late Adolescence (15-18) – High School

Program Outcomes: Alcohol, Illicit Drugs, Marijuana/Cannabis, Tobacco

Goal and Target Population: A high school classroom-based drug prevention program that aims to prevent teen drinking, smoking, marijuana, and other hard drug use.

Learn more about Project Towards No Drug Abuse

Featured Promising Program
Wyman’s Teen Connection Project

Blueprints Certified: 2023

Ages Served: Late Adolescence (15-18) – High School

Program Outcomes: Close Relationships with Peers, Depression

Goal and Target Population: A school- and community-based program to enhance adolescent peer relationships and improve social-emotional and well-being outcomes.

Learn more about Wyman’s Teen Connection Project

Blueprints News & Resources
Relevant articles and helpful resources

  • The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published a report titled Fostering Healthy Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Development in Children and Youth which explains how mental, emotional, and behavioral (MEB) development during childhood is critical for a productive adulthood. Blueprints’ work draws upon this report, which explains the growing body of research that has significantly strengthened understanding of healthy MEB development and the factors that influence it, as well as how healthy MEB can be fostered.
  • Dr. Pamela Buckley served as an invited panelist at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on Law and Justice public seminar focused on evidence translation efforts with support from the National Institute of Justice. She described Blueprints’ review process and communication of outcome evidence as part of a panel organized to gather researcher feedback on CrimeSolutions, a web-based clearinghouse operated by the U.S. Department of Justice to examine programs and practices aimed at improving criminal justice, juvenile justice, and crime victim services outcomes. Check out the panel conversation, including Dr. Buckley’s talk.
  • This opioid policy briefing from the National Prevention Science Coalition recommends the Blueprints registry as part of a Strategy for Preventing Opioid Use Disorders in Communities. The brief reviews current challenges regarding opioid use disorder and provides recommendations and strategies for prevention.
  • Assets Coming Together (ACT) for Youth just released a Youth Development Program Toolkit containing a variety of resources to help youth development professionals and organizations think through and plan for effective programming. The Toolkit lists Blueprints as a resource for identifying evidence-based programs.





© 2023 Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, Regents of the University of Colorado. All rights reserved. 

Our mailing address is:
University of Colorado Boulder | Institute of Behavioral Science
483 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309


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.