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Program Description

Overview Be A Star is a preventive intervention offered to youth in existing community-based after school programs in St. Louis, Missouri, focused on building resiliency to withstand pressure from peers and the community to abuse substances. The program is designed to (a) improve decision making skills and interpersonal competence, (b) improve cultural awareness and self-esteem, and (c) increase unfavorable attitudes toward alcohol and drug abuse.
Start Date 1992
Scope local
Type after school
Location urban
Setting religious institution
Participants elementary school students (ages 5–12)
Number of Sites/Grantees five
Number Served 783 in 1994–1995
Components Be A Star was developed to build on the after school activities already in place at five neighborhood centers run by the United Church Neighborhood Houses (UCNH), which offer tutoring, after school day care, and thrift shops for the community. Children in Be A Star attend after school groups organized by age (5–6-year-olds, 7–8-year-olds, 9–10-year-olds, and 11–12-year-olds) at these programs once a week for 90 minutes from September through May. The curriculum includes modules on decision making, cultural awareness, personal competency, and tobacco, alcohol, and other drug abuse (TAOD) education. Most group meetings are planned around specific topics, including making new friends and choices, how my friends and others make me feel, how I fit in a group, choices I can make, what I want to be, feeling good about my choices, what makes me important, taking pride in accomplishments of others, and being able to love myself. Other group meetings focus on drug awareness modules or on other cultures, particularly African cultures.

Each group session begins with games or playground activities that reinforce positive interaction. Usually a brief discussion of a relevant topic follows (e.g., “What do I do when I'm angry?”). There are also occasional discussions about how to cope with community violence. Discussions are followed by games or crafts illustrating the topic. For example, sessions on feelings may include making collages of faces expressing different feelings. Activities such as painting murals on community buildings or inviting community members from Africa to learn more about their games, songs, and food are means for involving community residents in agency programs.
Funding Level $194,000 (1994–1995)
Funding Sources Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), Substance Abuse and Mental Heal Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Other The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse developed Be A Star's drug awareness modules.


Overview The evaluation examined the impact of the Be A Star program on participants' psychosocial development and ability to resist pressure to abuse substances.
Evaluators Lois H. Pierce and Nancy Shields, University of Missouri-St. Louis
Evaluations Profiled The Be A Star Community-Based After-School Program: Developing Resiliency Factors in High-Risk Preadolescent Youth
Evaluations Planned none
Report Availability Pierce, L. H., & Shields, N. (1998). The Be A Star community-based after-school program: Developing resiliency factors in high-risk preadolescent youth. Journal of Community Psychology, 26, 175–183.


Evaluation Lois Pierce, Ph.D.
Department of Social Work
University of Missouri-St. Louis
8001 Natural Bridge Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63121
Tel: 314-516-6384
Fax: 314-516-5816
Program Roxanne Crawford
Program Director
Neighborhood Houses
5621 Delmar, Suite 104
St. Louis, MO 63112
Tel: 314-383-1733
Fax: 314-361-6873
Profile Updated January 20, 2005

Evaluation: The Be A Star Community-Based After-School Program: Developing Resiliency Factors in High-Risk Preadolescent Youth

Evaluation Description

Evaluation Purpose To assess the impact of the Be A Star program on participants' decision making skills and interpersonal competence, cultural awareness and self-esteem, and resistance to TAOD abuse.
Evaluation Design Quasi-Experimental: Thirty-eight after school groups across the five participating United Church Neighborhood Houses neighborhood centers participated in the study across 3 program years (1992–1993, 1993–1994, and 1994–1995). At the beginning of the study, 17 groups (n = 386 youth) were assigned to the treatment condition and received the Be A Star curriculum, while 21 groups (n = 397 youth) were assigned to the comparison condition and used a more traditional after school curriculum focusing on holidays and games.

Because youth participated for multiple years, about half of the children moved into a new after school group each year (e.g., from an after school group for 5–6-year-olds to an after school group for 7–8-year-olds). For youth who changed after school groups, evaluators attempted to assign them to new groups in order to maximize the numbers who remained in the same condition (treatment or comparison) that they were in the previous year, but this was not always possible.

Data were collected from treatment and comparison children at four points in time: (a) from all children with parental consent at baseline (fall 1992), (b) from randomly selected treatment and comparison groups after 1 year (spring 1993), (c) from randomly selected treatment and comparison groups after 2 years (spring 1994), and (d) from all treatment and comparison groups after 3 years (spring 1995). All analyses controlled for gender, program attendance, age, and years in the program. Evaluators found no evidence that attrition from the study differed significantly between the treatment and comparison conditions. Evaluators reported that there were no consistent or strong results for either the 1993 or 1994 project years on either the Revised Protective Factors Index (RPFI), the Revised Cultural Awareness Test (RCAT), or the Draw a Person test, so the following analyses focus on the spring 1995 project year. (See the Data Collection Methods section below for more information on these tests.)

The neighborhoods served by the UCNH include areas where gang activity is high, where children experience high rates of abuse and neglect, where proportionately large numbers of families received Aid to Families With Dependant Children (AFDC), and where the high school dropout rate is 52%. Almost all of the participants (96%) were African American. The evaluation sample consisted of four age groups: 11–12-year-olds (n = 156), 9–10-year-olds (n = 198), 7–8-year-olds (n = 209), and 5–6-year-olds (n = 220).
Data Collection Methods Secondary Source/Data Review: Program attendance was recorded by program sites for all participating children.

Test/Assessments: The Revised Protective Factors Index (RPFI) was administered in small groups to the 9–10 and 11–12 age groups. The RPFI is a revised version of the Individual Protective Factors Index (Springer & Phillips, 1997) and includes demographic and background information, as well as 16 scales tapping the following outcome measures: school bonding, family bonding, prosocial behavior, self-concept, self-control, self-efficacy, positive outlook on life, assertiveness, confidence, cooperativeness, locus of control, consequential decision making, emotional awareness, refusal skills, attitudes toward drugs and alcohol, and attitudes toward African Americans and African American culture. The Revised Cultural Awareness Test (RCAT; Zirkel & Green, 1974) and the Draw a Person test (Schofield, 1975) were administered to the 5–6 and 7–8 age groups during the first 2 project years. Starting in 1995, the 5–6 and 7–8 age groups began taking a 10-question knowledge-based test of the curriculum.

Schofield, J. W. (1975). Racial identity and intergroup attitudes of Black children in segregated and desegregated schools. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. UD015716)

Springer, J. F., & Phillips, J. L. (1997). Individual Protective Factors Index (IPFI): A measure of adolescent resiliency. Folsom, CA: EMT Associates.

Zirkel, P. A., & Green, J. F. (1974). Cultural attitudes scales: Puerto Rican, Black-American, and Anglo-American. University of Hartford College of Education and University of Bridgeport College of Education: Learning Concepts.
Data Collection Timeframe Data were collected between 1992 and 1995.

Summative/Outcome Findings

Youth Development Thirteen of the sixteen subscales of the RPFI show significant differences between the treatment and control conditions at the .05 level or better in 1995. In every case, the treatment condition had more positive scores than the comparison condition. Only the locus of control, outlook on life, and refusal skills subscales showed no significant differences.

Of the 10 knowledge-based test items for the 5–6-year-old age group, there were two significant differences between the treatment and comparison conditions (p < .05). Children in the treatment condition were more likely than children in the comparison condition to recognize Nairobi and know the meaning of “911.”

The 7–8-year-old age group showed no significant differences between treatment and comparison conditions on the knowledge-based test.

For the 5–6-year-old age group, Be A Star program attendance was positively and significantly related to one item on the knowledge test (p < .05), but number of years in the program was negatively and significantly related to another (p < .05). For the 7–8-year-old age group, Be A Star program attendance was negatively related to one item.

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