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Model Program Seal

Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS)

Blueprints Program Rating: Model

A classroom-based social emotional learning program for elementary students to reduce aggression and behavior problems in children. The PATHS curriculum teaches skills in five conceptual domains: self-control, emotional understanding, positive self-esteem, relationships, and interpersonal problem solving.

It is relatively inexpensive to get PATHS started in schools, with districts only needing to identify funds for initial training and curriculum purchase. To be most effective, the ongoing implementation of PATHS requires a relatively significant commitment of classroom time in grades K-5. District and school administrators must view the development of social and emotional competence and reduction of disruptive behavior as a priority in order to commit the time.

Improving the Use of Existing Public Funds

Sustaining this program requires the ongoing allocation of existing classroom teaching time for the intervention to be delivered by teachers or counselors. To the extent that existing interventions in schools aimed at fostering the development of social and emotional competence and the reduction of disruptive behavior are not evidence-based, funding for these interventions can be considered for re-direction to PATHS.

Allocating State or Local General Funds

State and local funds, most typically from school budgets, are often allocated to purchase the initial training and curriculum. State departments of education or health may also allocate state funds toward prevention programs, and administer them to school districts competitively or through formula. Some states have put in place legislative set-asides requiring a certain portion of state agency budgets be dedicated to evidence-based programs and/or prevention programs.

Maximizing Federal Funds

Formula Funds:

  • Title I can potentially support curricula purchase, training, and teacher salaries in schools that are operating schoolwide Title I programs (at least 40% of the student population is eligible for free and reduced lunch). In order for Title I to be allocated, PATHS would have to be viewed as contributing to overall academic achievement.
  • Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Formula Funds support a variety of improvements to delinquency prevention programs and juvenile justice programs in states. Evidence-based programs are an explicit priority for these funds, which are typically administered on a competitive basis from the administering state agency to community-based programs.
  • The Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHSBG) can fund a variety of mental health promotion and intervention activities and is a potential source of support for school-based mental health promotion programs, depending on the priorities of the administering state agency.

Discretionary Grants: There are relevant federal discretionary grants administered by SAMHSA (Department of Health and Human Services), OJJDP (Department of Justice), and the Department of Education that could support the PATHS program.

Foundation Grants and Public-Private Partnerships

Since the initial training and curriculum purchases, while inexpensive, may still be prohibitive to districts interested in implementing the program, a public-private partnership in which private foundations or local education funds provide funding for initial training and curriculum and schools agree to commit staff time to implementation can be an effective approach for financing PATHS.

Generating New Revenue

New revenue streams are not typically created for this program, though the program is so low-cost that interested schools could potentially consider community fundraising through Parent Teacher Associations, student civic societies, or partnerships with local businesses and civic organizations as a means of raising dollars to support the initial training and curriculum purchases.

Unit Cost – Blueprints for Violence Prevention program entry at http://www.colorado.edu/cspv/blueprints/modelprograms/PATHS.html

All information comes from the responses to a questionnaire submitted by the developer of the program, Mark Greenberg, to the Annie E. Casey Foundation.