Educational Psychology

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Creating Scientific Infrastructure
for Promise Neighborhoods

This project is working to create the infrastructure to begin research on comprehensive preventive interventions in the nation’s highest poverty neighborhoods. Neighborhoods of concentrated poverty are major contributors to the high levels of drug abuse, antisocial behavior, depression, academic failure, and intergenerational poverty in the U.S. and thus are critical targets for public health interventions. The recent accumulation of evidence-based preventive interventions (NRC-IOM, 2009) shows that substantial reductions in the prevalence of these problems are achievable. However, such changes will not occur until we can translate existing knowledge into effective interventions in high-poverty communities.

The Obama administration has called for a “Promise Neighborhood” initiative in which 20 high-poverty neighborhoods receive help in implementing comprehensive preventive interventions. However, the scientific infrastructure to support such interventions and to conduct the research needed to evaluate them and refine them does not yet exist. Promise Neighborhood Consortium is developing the infrastructure through which the scientific community can assist America’s high-poverty neighborhoods in translating existing knowledge into widespread, multiple improvements in wellbeing, including the prevention of substance abuse, antisocial behavior, risky sexual behavior, depression, and academic failure and promotion of diverse forms of prosocial behavior and academic achievement.

The Consortium will:

  1. Build a network of neighborhood and community leaders and behavioral scientists
  2. Define and begin to implement measures of wellbeing and of risk and protective factors that are fundamental to evaluating preventive intervention in neighborhoods
  3. Develop research on the impact of evidence-based policies, programs, and practices when implemented in high-poverty communities

Project Staff

  • Scott McConnell, University of Minnesota principal investigator, member of PNRC Steering Committee and Research Committee
  • Alisha Wackerle-Hollman, early career scientist
  • Lauren Martin, early career scientist