Prevention as a Process, Not a Program

Colleges and universities are taking a wide range of approaches to tackle issues of student wellness. When asked to describe prevention efforts in place, it’s easy to default to listing out the programs offered to students. This list often varies from campus to campus in terms of the number of programs, the timing and target audience, and the underlying evidence-base for each. Even on campuses with widespread programmatic offerings and successes, however, an exclusive focus on programs is a myopic approach to prevention.

processimagePrevention should not be thought of strictly as a program or even a series of programs. Effective prevention is an on-going process. This process should be informed by theory and research, participated in by multiple key stakeholders, embedded into the institution’s mission and goals, and continuously assessed, adjusted, and improved.

While certain aspects of prevention will necessarily vary from school to school, there are several key elements and a general process that is fairly universal as far as effective prevention:

1.   Identify focus areas

Every school has a unique set of strengths and challenges. Formative evaluation (i.e., a needs assessment) can inform programmatic focus by helping to define “the problem(s)” as well as the areas of strength that can be leveraged. Campus-wide climate surveys are a great tool for identifying focus areas.

2.   Build fruitful partnerships

Violence prevention efforts have an array of key stakeholders, regardless of how these efforts are currently housed, structured, and funded on campus. It’s important to align with the values and interests of stakeholders and develop a shared vision for prevention. Having a structure for partnerships will strengthen the capacity and impact of collaboration

3.   Set SMART goals

Prevention efforts should be streamlined at accomplishing a set of explicit goals. Strategic planning efforts should include the creation of an evaluation plan that will assess progress towards meeting goals. Share your goals widely on campus.

4.   Choose effective strategies

Once focus areas have been identified and goals set, prevention strategies should be selected that best align with the needs and goals of the institution and it’s students. Examine the literature base for relevant programs and approaches that are supported by data, and involve students in the process of selecting/developing prevention approaches.

5.   Develop a comprehensive approach

As prevention strategies are identified that are aligned with goals and needs, be sure that all critical elements of prevention are being covered. A comprehensive approach should include the right topics, the right delivery, the right timing, and the right people (delivering and receiving programming).

6.   Implement with fidelity

As prevention programs are delivered, keep track of key programming metrics. These should include date and location of programs, topics covered, who presented, the number of attendees, the type of program, and the type of people who attended.

7.   Assess impact

Every program should be evaluated based on criteria tied to specific goals. If goals relate to bystander behaviors, surveys should include measures of bystander confidence, intentions, and intervention efficacy. Consider the use of both quantitative and qualitative measures of impact.

8.   Disseminate findings

Distribute results of prevention efforts to partners and key stakeholders on campus. Consider strategies for framing positive and negative findings to garner the most support possible. For example, if a program is found to be very effective, describe the need for expanding the reach and content of the program to grow impact. If a program does not demonstrate positive results, focus on the importance of knowing what’s not working and the distinct areas that could be modified and improved.

9.   Iterate and improve

Procedural and programmatic assessments should be relied upon when making necessary adjustments to improve or grow prevention efforts. Continue to rely on research literature when modifying programs, and consider ways to contribute to the literature by publishing or publicizing findings. New goals and strategies should be developed as old goals are accomplished or become obsolete.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Celebrates Youth Financial Empowerment

In a collaborative effort to prepare Chicago’s next-generation workforce and boost their financial capacity, EverFi and TCF Bank have teamed up with One Summer Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s youth summer employment program, to provide our web-based financial education curriculum to thousands of youth participants across the city.

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TCF Vice Chairman Tom Jasper and Mayor Rahm Emanuel with graduates of the TCF Financial Scholars Program

On Monday, Mayor Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle hosted a recognition breakfast at the Chicago Cultural Center to celebrate the accomplishments of One Summer Chicago youth participants and recognize TCF Bank for its role in building the financial acumen of young people across the city.

TCF Vice Chairman Tom Jasper emceed the event and announced that the TCF Financial Scholars Program reached more than 6,400 youth participants this past summer. And perhaps the biggest announcement of the day was that TCF will also be sponsoring this program in Chicago Public Schools – the third largest school district in the US.

Mayor Emanuel touted the TCF partnership as a shining example of how the public and private sectors can work together leverage their resources to maximize availability and access to summer jobs and provide students with a strong financial foundation as they earn their first paycheck. He called on other private sector partners to help expand opportunities to improve college and career-readiness of Chicago’s students and reduce rates of youth violence in the city.

TCF’s commitment to financial education runs deep. The bank has partnered with EverFi to bring financial education to more than 400 high schools across six states as well as a number of colleges and universities across the Midwest. They’re also launching a massive effort to educate adult consumers throughout their footprint with an overall goal of reaching 2 million people. We’re proud to help power that endeavor.

Hear what Chicago students had to say about the impact of the TCF Financial Scholars Program: