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Program Profile: Across Ages

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on May 28, 2013

Program Summary

A mentoring initiative designed to delay or reduce substance use of at-risk middle school youth through a comprehensive intergenerational approach. This program is rated Promising. The program significantly reduced school absences and had a positive effect on measures of youths’ reactions to situations involving drug use and attitudes toward school, the future, and elders. However, the program did not impact youths’ frequency of substance use or well-being.

Program Description

Program Goal/Target Population
Across Ages is a mentoring initiative designed to increase the resiliency and protective factors of at-risk middle school youths through a comprehensive intergenerational approach. The overall goal is substance use prevention. At-risk youth generally come from neighborhoods characterized by poverty and high rates of substance use, drug-related crime, and unemployment.

Program Components
The basic concept of the program is to pair older adult volunteers (55 and older) with students (10 to 13 years old) to create a special bonding relationship. The project also uses community service activities, provides a classroom-based life skills curriculum, and offers parent-training workshops.

Mentors: Older mentors—by acting as advocates, challengers, nurturers, role models, and friends—help youth develop the awareness, self-confidence, and skills they need to abstain from drug use and overcome other obstacles. The mentor is expected to spend at least 4 hours each week with their assigned youth. Activities include working on homework or school projects, going to sports events or cultural activities, or selecting a community service activity to work on together. Mentors and mentees meet year round.

Community Service: The community service component focuses on interactions with frail elders. For instance, students are expected to make biweekly visits to nursing homes where they visit with residents for an hour. Students record their experiences in journals and share this information in class.

Classroom Curriculum: The classroom component is built on a Positive Youth Development curriculum, which promotes social competence. The curriculum teaches life and resistance skills through didactic instruction, videotapes, journals, role-playing, and homework assignments.

Parent Workshops: Events for parents, youth, and mentors are scheduled on weekends. To encourage participation, a meal and entertainment are usually provided. When possible, free transportation is provided. Mentors are also encouraged to maintain contact with parents through mail and phone calls.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Attitudes toward School, Future, and Elders
LoSciuto and colleagues (1996) found a small, statistically significant positive effect of the Across Ages program for the experimental group that participated in the classroom-based life skills curriculum, performed community service, had parent workshops, and received mentoring from older adults (Group MPS) compared to the control group (d = 0.22).

The groups did not differ significantly on measures of well-being.

Reactions to Situations Involving Drug Use
The program had a small, statistically significant positive effect on the MPS group compared to the control group (d = 0.22).

Frequency of Substance Use
There was no significant difference in frequency of substance use between the MPS and control groups.

School Attendance
The MPS group had significantly fewer absences from school than did the control and PS groups (d = 0.22). 

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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
LoSciuto and colleagues (1996) evaluated the Across Ages program using a randomized pretest/posttest control group design. Pretest and posttest data were collected at the beginning and end of each academic year from 1991 through 1994. Each year the same three Philadelphia, Pa., urban middle schools participated in the program. Experimental and control groups were randomly selected from among the sixth grade classes whose teachers agreed to participate in the program. Classes were assigned to one of three groups: Group C was the control group and received no intervention; Group PS was an experimental group that participated in the classroom-based life skills curriculum, performed community service, and had parent workshops; and Group MPS participated in the classroom-based life skills curriculum, performed community service, had parent workshops, and received mentoring from older adults.

The evaluation research tested the hypothesis that students in the treatment groups would demonstrate more positive outcomes on the posttest than those in the control group and that the most multifaceted approach (MPS) would result in the most positive change. Instruments included measures of drug use; well-being; problem-solving efficacy; and attitudes toward school, elders, the future, and community service.

Of the 729 students completing the pretest, 562 also completed the posttest. The sample was 53 percent female, 52.2 percent African-American, 15.8 percent white, 9.1 percent Asian-American, 9.0 percent Hispanic, and 13.9 percent “other.” The three groups had no significant demographic differences at baseline, nor did they differ significantly on attrition (23 percent for Group C; 22 percent for Group PS, and 25 percent for Group MPS).

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The Across Ages Program Development and Training Manual can be purchased for $75 and the Elder Mentor Handbook costs $25.
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Implementation Information

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To implement the Across Ages program, a 2-day training plus follow-up technical assistance is recommended. The training can be conducted on-site for up to 25 people. The cost of the 2-day training is $1,000 per day, plus travel and per diem. Technical assistance costs $500 per day plus travel and per diem.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
LoSciuto, Leonardo, Amy K. Rajala, Tara N. Townsend, and Andrea S. Taylor. 1996. “An Outcome Evaluation of Across Ages: An Intergenerational Mentoring Approach to Drug Prevention.” Journal of Adolescent Research 11(1):116–29.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Across Ages Web Page. "Goals and Objectives." Accessed April 1, 2013.

Aseltine, Robert H., Matthew Dupre, and Pamela Lamlein. 2000. “Mentoring as a Drug Prevention Strategy: An Evaluation of Across Ages.” Adolescent & Family Health 1(1):11–20.

Rogers, Anita M., and Andrea S. Taylor. 1997. “Intergenerational Mentoring: A Viable Strategy for Meeting the Needs of Vulnerable Youth.” Journal of Gerontological Social Work 28(1-2):125–40.

Taylor, Andrea S., and Joy G. Dryfoos. 1999. “Creating a Safe Passage: Elder Mentors and Vulnerable Youth.” Generations 22(4):43–48.

Taylor, Andrea S., Leonard LoSciuto, Margaretta Fox, Susan M. Hilbert, and Michael Sonkowsky. 1999. “The Mentoring Factor: Evaluation of the Across Ages’ Intergenerational Approach to Drug Abuse Prevention.” Child & Youth Services 20(1-2):77–99.
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Related Practices

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Following are practices that are related to this program:

This practice provides at-risk youth with positive and consistent adult or older peer contact to promote healthy development and functioning by reducing risk factors. The practice is rated Effective in reducing delinquency outcomes; and Promising in reducing the use of alcohol and drugs; improving school attendance, grades, academic achievement test scores, social skills and peer relationships.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
Promising - More than one Meta-Analysis Drugs & Substance Abuse - Multiple substances
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Education - Multiple education outcomes
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Mental Health & Behavioral Health - Psychological functioning

School-Based Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs
Designed to foster the development of five interrelated sets of cognitive, affective, and behavioral competencies, in order to provide a foundation for better adjustment and academic performance in students, which can result in more positive social behaviors, fewer conduct problems, and less emotional distress. The practice was rated Effective in reducing students’ conduct problems and emotional stress.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors - Multiple juvenile problem/at-risk behaviors
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Mental Health & Behavioral Health - Internalizing behavior
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Program Snapshot

Age: 11 - 13

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, White, Other

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): School, Other Community Setting

Program Type: Afterschool/Recreation, Classroom Curricula, Conflict Resolution/Interpersonal Skills, Mentoring, Parent Training, Truancy Prevention, Alcohol and Drug Prevention

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: Model Programs Guide, National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices