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Project Northland

Project Northland is a six-year intervention delivered over seven academic years from middle to high school, but a shortened, 3-year version may also be used in grades 6, 7, and 8. Its grade-specific components include classroom curricula, peer leadership, youth-driven extra-curricular activities, parent involvement programs, and community activism. By intervening on multiple levels, Project Northland strives to teach students skills to effectively negotiate social influences to drink, while at the same time directly modifying the social environment of youth (i.e., peers, parents, school, and community).

Phase I provides programming for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Each of the three years of programming has a specific theme and incorporates individual, parent, peer, and community participation. The students receive skills training in communicating with their parents about alcohol (6th grade), dealing with peer influence and normative expectations about alcohol (7th grade), and understanding methods that bring about community-level changes in alcohol-related programs and policies (8th grade).

Phase II of the program is designed to help maintain the effects through high school. Intervention strategies include community organizing, parent education, youth development, media, and school curriculum. The five intervention strategies are designed to increase community efficacy to enact changes in policies and practices related to high school students’ alcohol use.

The main evaluation of Project Northland began with a 7-year study of six counties and 24 school districts in northeast Minnesota. School districts (and adjoining communities) were randomized to an intervention or reference condition. Students (2,351) in grade 6 at the baseline assessment in fall 2001 were followed through grade 12 in spring 1998.

Students in the intervention drank significantly less than control students at the end of 8th grade. Students in the intervention group who were never-drinkers at the beginning of sixth grade not only drank significantly less than students in the control group but also had lower onset rates, and they also smoked fewer cigarettes and used less marijuana at the end of the eighth grade. Students in the intervention schools were significantly less likely to increase their Tendency to Use Alcohol and binge drinking, and marginally less likely to increase past month alcohol use during grades 11 and 12.

Project Northland returns $4.51 for every dollar invested.

Read the Program Fact Sheet

Return to Blueprints Bulletin Issue 7. July 2018.


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.