Blueprints Programs = Positive Youth Development

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FAQ

What Is Blueprints?

Blueprints is a project at the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado Boulder. It identifies, recommends, and disseminates programs for youth that, based on scientific evaluations, have strong evidence of effectiveness. Blueprints serves as a resource for governmental agencies, schools, foundations, and community organizations trying to make informed decisions about their investments in youth programs. Its ultimate goal is to reduce antisocial behavior and promote a healthy course of youth development.

What Kind of Youth Programs Does Blueprints Examine?

Blueprints began with a focus on youth programs to prevent violence, delinquency, and drug use, but it has recently expanded its scope. It now also recommends programs to improve mental and physical health, self-regulation, and educational achievement outcomes. The outcomes of interest involve more than preventing harmful behavior — they also involve positive behaviors and healthy development.

When Did Blueprints Begin?

Blueprints began in 1996 with funding from the state of Colorado, with subsequent long-term funding from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and a focus on prevention of youth violence, crime, and drug use. With funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Blueprints now focuses on a wide variety of outcomes relating to positive youth development. To encompass the diverse outcomes, our name shifted from Blueprints for Violence Prevention to Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development.

Why Is Blueprints Needed?

Demand for effective programs to prevent violence and foster healthy youth development continues to grow. Across the country, organizations sponsor a raft of well-intentioned programs. Yet, very few of them have evidence demonstrating their effectiveness, and many are implemented with little consistency or quality control. Unproven programs not only waste scarce resources but also can do harm. Blueprints promotes only those programs with strong scientific evidence of effectiveness.

How Is Blueprints Different from Other Program Rating Sites?

Blueprints' standards for recommending a program are widely recognized as the most rigorous in use. Programs undergo two thorough reviews, one by Blueprints staff and one by an expert Advisory Board. Of more than 1,400 programs assessed to date, less than 5% have qualified for Blueprints certification. Blueprints also does more than other rating sites to ensure that its recommended programs are ready to be used.

How Do We Know What Works?

Published, peer-reviewed, scientific studies are the key to knowing what works. Blueprints reviews research studies and the quality of their evidence of program effectiveness. We look for strong methodological grounding, clearly defined goals, and reliably positive results. However, we depend ultimately on research done by scholars throughout the country and world.

How Are Programs Selected?

Blueprints staff members continually search the scientific literature for studies of youth programs. They next review the studies to identify those that are exemplary in methods and grounded in evidence. The programs that meet the standards of the preliminary review then undergo a final review and recommendation from an Advisory Board. The final review certifies that recommended programs meet rigorous requirements for evaluation and effectiveness.

What Criteria Does Blueprints Use in Selecting Programs?

Blueprints considers four criteria:

  • Evaluation quality—Can we be confident in a program’s evaluation
  • Intervention impact—How much positive change in key developmental outcomes can be attributed to the intervention
  • Intervention specificity—Is the intervention focused, practical, and logical
  • Dissemination readiness—Does the program have the necessary support and information to be successfully implemented

Blueprints programs must meet all four criteria. See our Program Criteria page for a more detailed description.

What Is the Difference Between a Promising and Model Program?

Both promising and model programs meet basic Blueprints standards, but model programs meet additional requirements. Promising programs must have evidence from one high-quality experimental or two high-quality quasi-experimental designs, clear findings of positive impact, carefully defined goals, and sufficient resources to help users. Model programs must have evidence from two high-quality experimental or one experimental and one quasi-experimental design of high quality, and in addition to the above criteria (positive impact, defined goals, dissemination capacity), have a sustained impact at least 12 months after the intervention ends. Model programs which have conducted a high-quality "independent" replication have been labeled as Model Plus. Model and Model Plus programs are deemed ready for widespread use.

Why Are Blueprints Standards So High?

With the thorough and rigorous evaluations, users of Blueprints programs can have confidence in the ability of the recommended programs to change targeted behavior and developmental outcomes. When delivered appropriately, the programs will improve child and youth well-being and have no hidden requirements in terms of money or staff.

Who Selects Blueprints Programs?

A distinguished Advisory Board that is comprised of experts in the field of youth development has the final say. This independent board reviews the best programs and selects those it views as meeting the Blueprints standards.

Does Blueprints Review Treatment Programs?

Blueprints has as a major goal the prevention of problem behaviors and promotion of healthy youth development. Therefore, we limit our reviews of programs to prevention and are not currently reviewing treatment for diagnosed problems in the area of mental health. Blueprints does, however, include programs that target diagnosed behavioral problems, such as conduct disorder, ADHD, or oppositional defiant disorder, as programs targeting these outcomes often target prevention of problems such as violence and delinquency that do not have a formal diagnosis.

Can I See a List of Blueprints Programs?

A full list of promising and model programs is available on our website. Click the View All Programs tab at the top to see the list. The website includes information on each program. However, an easier way to navigate through the programs comes from using the website's search features.

Can I Nominate a Program For Blueprints Consideration?

Yes. Blueprints staff continually comb the research literature to look for evaluations of new programs and new evaluations of old programs but may miss some. We welcome suggestions for programs to review. It typically takes 8-10 weeks to gather and review relevant studies. Please visit our Nominate Program page for details.

How Does Blueprints Disseminate Its Recommended Programs?

The website aims to make it easy for schools, communities, and public agencies to find the interventions best suited for the youth they want to help. It includes information on how each program works, the kinds of evaluations it has undergone, and the outcomes it has produced.

How Can I Learn More about Recommended Programs?

For more detail, Blueprints lists the links to websites of the developers of the recommended programs. In addition, Blueprints hosts an international conference every other year to motivate the adoption of evidence-based programs. The conference provides support, guidance, and tools to help practitioners implement programs successfully in their own communities. More information is available on the conference website.

Does Blueprints Use Its Recommended Programs?

Yes, Blueprints sometimes distributes programs to schools and districts throughout the country when a grant is available to do so. For example, training, materials, and technical assistance is provided to selected schools implementing LifeSkills Training, a model Blueprints program for drug and alcohol prevention among adolescents. See Blueprints' LifeSkills Training Program Grant website for details.

How Can I Select a Program Best Suited for My School or Community?

The Blueprints website will search for programs that fit the particular needs of users. For instance, after selecting the kind of outcome or risk/protective factor to be changed, the target population, and the type of program, the search will identify programs that fit those needs. Users can also use key words to search. The search can be done interactively and revised easily.

What If I'm Not Sure What Kind of Program Is Best for My School or Community?

The Evidence2Success Youth Experience Survey is a series of three assessment tools that can be used individually or together to help schools, public agencies and communities set priorities for child and youth development. An assessment survey tool, designed by the Communities That Care program, can be used in schools for students in grades 6-12. The survey helps identify the range of influences on youth well-being and the size of the population at risk of problems. Other versions of the survey apply to younger children as well. CSPV also hosts a school climate survey that can be done online with results tallied for a small fee. Assessment surveys can be found on the Blueprints website under the tab, Assess Needs.

Can I Get Help in Finding Funding?

Blueprints itself does not provide funding. However, information on funding opportunities is included with the description of each of the recommended programs.

Who Can Answer My Questions?

Questions about specific programs can best be directed to the program developers (see contact information for each). For general questions about Blueprints, our policies and practices, and use of our website, email us at or call us at 303-492-1032.

Where Else Can I Go to Find Programs?

Many organizations and agencies recommend programs, although without using the same stringent criteria as Blueprints. For example, SAMHSA, the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, Child Trends, and the Department of Justice rate programs for youth. See our Resources page and click on "Federal and Privately Rated Programs" for a listing of programs rated by several federal and private agencies.