UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The PROSPER Project, a collaboration between the College of Health and Human Development and Cooperative Extension, has received the 2013 Penn State Award for Community Engagement and Scholarship.
The award recognizes a project that best exemplifies Penn State as an “engaged institution,” which the Kellogg Commission defines as an institution that has redesigned teaching, research, and extension and service functions to become even more sympathetically and productively involved with its communities.
PROSPER (PROmoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience) is a scientific delivery system that facilitates sustained, quality delivery of evidence-based programs that reduce risky youth behaviors, enhance positive youth development and strengthen families. PROSPER coordinates the expertise of prevention scientists, public school systems and Cooperative Extension educators at Penn State, Iowa State and other land grant universities. The goal is to disseminate evidence-based best practices in community settings.
The original PROSPER research trial in 2001 was funded by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse and involved a randomized, controlled study of youth substance abuse programs in 29 communities in Pennsylvania and Iowa. The findings indicated significant reductions in youth drug and alcohol use from grade 6 through high school graduation. Based both at Penn State and Iowa State Universities, PROSPER continues to expand to new communities and new programming areas, such as childhood obesity.
“The PROSPER project exemplifies the purposeful outreach mission of Extension in bringing science to bear on issues facing communities,” one nominator said. Another wrote, “The PROSPER program’s success in terms of real impacts, long-term sustainability and creating new opportunities provides an exemplar program that brings to life the notion of the engaged university through an integration of science and practice.”
Within the national Cooperative Extension System, PROSPER has been designated one of seven 4-H Healthy Lifestyle Programs, named a National 4-H Program of Distinction awardee and received an Annie E. Casey Family Strengthening Program Award.