You are seeing this message because your web browser does not support basic web standards. Find out more about why this message is appearing and what you can do to make your experience on this site better.

The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

Terms of Use ▼

Program Description

Overview Project Venture (PV), an outdoor/experiential program targeted to high-risk American Indian (AI) youth, began in New Mexico and has been replicated nationally. The model is guided by traditional AI values such as family, learning from nature, spiritual awareness, service to others, and respect. PV aims to help youth develop a positive self-concept, effective social and communication skills, a community service ethic, self-efficacy, and improved decision-making and problem-solving skills in order to build in youth generalized resilience that can be transferred to drug resistance and other prevention and youth development outcomes.
Start Date 1990
Scope national
Type after school, summer/vacation, weekend
Location urban, suburban, rural
Setting public schools, other (tribal and charter schools)
Participants elementary through high school students (primarily targeted to Grades 5–8)
Number of Sites/Grantees more than 50 communities throughout the U.S.
Number Served over 4,000 AI and other youth in New Mexico
Components Typically, PV staff identify teachers who are interested in PV and willing to give up one class session per week for PV activities. PV staff deliver a minimum of 20 hourly sessions of weekly in-school problem-solving games and initiatives throughout the school year to all students in selected classes. Youth are recruited from the school-based program to participate in weekly after school and monthly weekend experiential activities. These out-of-school time experiential activities are more intensive and culminate in multiday wilderness experiential outings (e.g., hiking, recreation, camping) and community service learning projects. Summer activities continue the wilderness and service learning activities and include a 7–10 day leadership camp. After a year of participation, youth have the opportunity to become “service staff” or peer leaders. PV believes in youth self-selection rather than asking for referrals from school staff to eliminate the stigma often attached to programs for “at-risk” youth and to ensure a mix of risk levels, although staff act on informal referrals and often provide extra encouragement for such youth to participate.
Funding Level Funding levels vary depending on local resources. Generally, the cost per youth for a year long program is about $600.
Funding Sources Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), New Mexico Department of Health, local foundations


Overview PV has collected evaluation data every year since inception and participated in the CSAP-sponsored National Cross-Site Evaluation of High Risk Youth Programs.
Evaluator Susan L. Carter, Evaluation Coordinator and McClellan Hall, Executive Director, The National Indian Youth Leadership Project
Evaluations Profiled Project Venture: Evaluation of a Positive, Culture-Based Approach to Substance Abuse Prevention with American Indian Youth
Evaluations Planned Evaluations are ongoing and are completed each year. An “Outcomes Chronology” is available and updated each year.
Report Availability Carter, S. L., Straits, K. J. E., & Hall, M. Project Venture: Evaluation of a positive, culture-based approach to substance abuse prevention with American Indian youth. Paper to be presented at the Symposium for Experiential Education Research, St. Paul, MN, November 3, 2006.


Evaluation Susan Carter, PhD
Evaluation Coordinator
National Indian Youth Leadership Project
P.O. Box 2140
Gallup, NM 87305
Tel: 505-783-4340
Program McClellan Hall
Executive Director
National Indian Youth Leadership Project
P.O. Box 2140
Gallup, NM 87305
Tel: 505-722–9176
Fax: 505-722–9794
Profile Updated October 17, 2006

Evaluation: Evaluation of a Positive, Culture-Based Approach to Substance Abuse Prevention with American Indian Youth

Evaluation Description

Evaluation Purpose To assess impacts on substance abuse for program participants.
Evaluation Design Experimental: Two middle schools were randomly assigned to either the program or control group. Program youth were enrolled in PV for 1 year. Control youth did not receive any services, although their teachers received gift certificates to buy supplies for their classes as an incentive for study participation. Dosage records were maintained and youth with low participation rates, such as those who had moved or dropped out of school, were removed from the study. Data were collected at three time points: baseline, 6-month follow-up, and 18-month follow-up. Sixth graders at these schools completed surveys at each phase: 262 program and 135 control at baseline, 222 program and 124 control at 6-month follow-up, and 162 program and 98 control at 18-month follow-up. Ethnic distribution for all study participants was 76% AI, 16% Hispanic, 5% White/non-Hispanic, 3% other, and less than 1% Asian/Pacific Islander. Evaluators controlled for baseline differences between the program and control groups.
Data Collection Methods Test/Assessments: CSAP’s National Youth Survey (EMT Associates, 2000), which assesses actual substance use as well as related risk and protective factors, was administered to program and control youth.

EMT Associates. (2000). National cross-site evaluation of high risk youth programs, final technical report. Folsom, CA: Author.
Data Collection Timeframe Data were collected Fall 1996 through Spring 1998.

Summative/Outcome Findings

Prevention Program youth demonstrated significantly less growth in substance use than control youth (p <. 05) as measured by the four outcome measures (alcohol use, cigarette use, marijuana use, and combined substance use) taken together.

A nonsignificant trend showed less growth over time for the treatment group compared to the control group in cigarette and composite drug use. This trend was significant for alcohol use, with less growth over time observed for the treatment group than for the control group (p < .05).

© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project