'Communities That Care' is topic of 2018 Bennett Lecture

Richard Catalano, University of Washington professor and co-developer of CTC program, to speak Oct. 25

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center will welcome 2018 Bennett Lecturer Richard Catalano, Bartley Dobb Professor for the Study and Prevention of Violence, and co-founder of the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington, at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25, in Room 110 Henderson Building on the Penn State University Park campus. The lecture, in its 16th year, is free and open to the public.

Catalano’s presentation, “Communities That Care: Using the Research Base for Prevention Science to Reduce Behavioral Health Problems,” will look at the Communities That Care (CTC) program, a tested approach to building prevention infrastructure through broad-based community coalitions. The CTC process and outcomes from a 24-community randomized trial will be described.

With assistance and guidance from the Prevention Research Center and the EPISCenter, a PRC initiative, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) has supported the CTC program for over a decade, training over 100 Commonwealth communities in the model. Currently, more than 60 CTC coalitions are active across Pennsylvania. Research studies both in Pennsylvania and nationally have demonstrated CTC as effective in creating population-level public health improvement, reducing delinquency and youth drug use, and improving academic achievement for youth in these communities.

The CTC is an "operating system" that takes communities through a well-defined and structured process to prevent adolescent problem behaviors and promote positive youth development. CTC communities form a broad-based coalition and then collect local data on risk and protective factors shown by research to be associated with delinquency, violence, substance use, and school failure and dropout. After collecting these data, communities identify specific risk and protective factors on which to focus, and then seek evidence-based programs and strategies to address those priorities. After two to three years of implementing these strategies, the community re-assesses risk and protective factors to measure impact and identify new emerging priorities.

“Richard Catalano has had a profound impact on both prevention science and on communities and their families throughout the United States, through his own work and through his work with David Hawkins at the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington. We are delighted to have him share his knowledge of evidence-based programs and their effects on our schools and communities,” said Stephanie Lanza, director of the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center and the C. Eugene Bennett Chair in Prevention Research.

For more than 30 years, Catalano has led research and program development to promote positive youth development and prevent problem behavior. He is the co-developer of the Social Development Model; the parenting programs, "Guiding Good Choices," "Supporting School Success," "Staying Connected with Your Teen," and "Focus on Families"; the school-based program, "Raising Healthy Children'; as well as the community prevention approach, "Communities That Care."

As a sociologist and prevention scientist, Catalano’s research has focused on discovering risk and protective factors for positive and problem behavior, designing and evaluating programs to address these factors, and using this knowledge to understand and improve prevention service systems in states and communities.

He has served on expert panels for the National Academy of Sciences, federal and state governments, and foundations. His work has been recognized by practitioners (1996 National Prevention Network's Award of Excellence); criminologists (Fellow of the Academy of Experimental Criminology, 2007 August Vollmer Award from the American Society of Criminology, and 2003 Paul Tappan Award from the Western Society of Criminology); prevention scientists (2001 Prevention Science Award, 2012 Presidential Award from the Society for Prevention Research, president-elect, Society for Prevention Research), and social workers (Fellow in the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare).

Catalano, who has published many peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, received his doctorate in sociology from the University of Washington.

Catalano will provide a second lecture during his time at Penn State. On Wednesday, Oct. 24, he will give a presentation on “Positive Youth Development: History, Effectiveness, and Future Directions” at 10:30 a.m. in 110 Henderson Building. In this talk, Catalano will provide historical context for positive youth development in the U.S., focusing on issues that have brought researchers, policy makers, and practitioners together to critique existing single-problem-focused prevention approaches, and discuss outcomes from his own work on the Seattle Social Development Project, in which he is using the Raising Healthy Children approach to youth development in elementary schools. The event is co-sponsored with the Child Study Center in the College of the Liberal Arts.

The Bennett Lecture in Prevention Science is an annual fall event to honor leaders in prevention research. The lectureship is made possible through an endowment from HHD alumna Edna Bennett Pierce.

For more information on the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, visit

Last Updated October 15, 2018