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Resilient Youth Initiative

Supporting Youth Resiliency in North Central Indiana

When Indiana’s overall mental health ranking fell from 19th to 45th in Mental Health America’s 2016 State of Mental Health in America report, NCHS noticed the overall decline was concentrated in measures of youth mental health and access to care. NCHS conducted focus groups across the region in the summer of 2018 as part of its Community Health Needs Assessment, during which school administrators expressed their concerns about their students' well-being and the need to equip them with skills and knowledge for substance use prevention. In 2018, NCHS announced a unique grant opportunity for K-12 school corporations serving Benton, Carroll, Clinton, Fountain, Montgomery, Tippecanoe, Warren, and White counties in Indiana, the Resilient Youth Initiative. Local youth face rising trends in suicide attempts, substantiated incidents of child abuse and neglect, and parental substance use.

NCHS allocated over $6 million in grant funding for planning and implementation grants and supported schools implementing evidence-based prevention programs

Nineteen school corporations in the NCHS service area were awarded Resilient Youth Initiative Implementation Grants in July 2019. The Resilient Youth Initiative funding reached approximately 26,425 K-12 students in 71 schools during the grant period.

Resilient Youth Initiative Timeline


List of statistics illustrating success rates of the initiative.NCHS is committed to providing health care and promoting healthy communities for the citizens of Benton, Carroll, Clinton, Fountain, Montgomery, Tippecanoe, Warren, and White counties. Since 1999, NCHS has awarded more than $82 million in grants to more than 225 benefiting organizations. Beyond its Community Benefit Capital Grants program, NCHS initiates strategic partnerships with coalitions, funders, nonprofits, and other entities to address the most critical community health needs identified by the NCHS and River Bend Hospital Community Health Needs Assessment. These NCHS-initiated Community Benefit Partnerships fund the launch, expansion, or strengthening of programs and services that improve health outcomes and develop healthy communities.

Local youth face rising trends in suicide attempts, substantiated incidents of child abuse and neglect, and parental substance use. Youth in Indiana reporting at least one major depressive episode in the past year rose 71% from 2011 to 2017. Nearly 17% of Indiana high school students in 2015 said they had abused a prescription drug. In 2015, almost 20% of Indiana high school students seriously considered suicide – the third-highest rate in the nation.

According to the 2022 Indiana Youth Survey:

  • Alcohol remained the most common substance used by Indiana youth. Still, the percentage of 12th-graders who reported drinking alcohol in the 30 days before the survey dropped from 28.5% in 2020 to 19.9% in 2022.
  • Electronic vapor products were the second-most-used substance by Indiana teens. The percentage of 12th-graders who reported using vaping products during the past 30 days decreased from 23% in 2020 to 14.8% in 2022.
  • The survey found that students across grades 7 to 12 reported decreased use of alcohol, cigarettes, electronic vapor products, marijuana, and prescription drugs not prescribed to them compared to 2020
  • The percentage of sixth-graders who reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more during the past year increased from 28.9% in 2020 to 35.2% in 2022.
  • On average, 18% of Indiana high school students considered attempting suicide, and 13% planned to attempt suicide.

Stressed brains do not have the same learning capacities as those that feel safe, can emotionally regulate, and can feel a connection. Perhaps no other group is better informed about the mental health needs of children in our communities than the teachers, counselors, and school administrators who serve them daily.

Resilient Youth Initiative

As a funder that prioritizes grant impact on mental health and substance abuse, NCHS assisted schools in developing youth resiliency through life-skills competency, drug resistance, and mental well-being. These grants assisted school corporations in the NCHS service area with identifying, implementing, and long-term sustainability of proven evidence-based prevention programs.

Group of smiling children. Resilient Youth Initiative Goals

Alleviate barriers schools face by identifying evidence-based prevention programs

Provide the support schools need to implement these programs effectively

Help students develop life skills

Improve youth mental health measures and reduce youth substance use

The RYI Grants were awarded in two phases – planning and implementation grants.

Planning Grants: In the fall of 2018, NCHS invited K-12 school and corporation leaders to explore evidence-based prevention programs and develop detailed implementation plans.

Nineteen school corporations, comprised of seventy-one schools, received planning grants in 2019. These schools were provided technical assistance to help develop their plans for implementing evidence-based prevention programs.

Implementation Grants: The planning grant recipients could receive funding for three years of implementation in their school(s). Nineteen grants in eight counties were awarded, totaling over $4.1 million in direct funding. NCHS also made available one-on-one grantee coaching from field experts, custom implementation training, and initiative-wide evaluation by an independent research partner to explore the overall impact on schools and students.

Resilient Youth Initiative Award Recipients: 

Attica Consolidated School Corporation
Benton Community School Corporation
Clinton Central School Corporation
Clinton Prairie School Corporation
Community Schools of Frankfort
Covington Community School Corporation
Crawfordsville Community Schools
Delphi Community School Corporation
Faith Christian School
Frankfort Crossing School of Business & Entrepreneurship
Frontier School Corporation
Lafayette Catholic School System
Lafayette School Corporation
MSD of Warren County
North Montgomery Community School Corporation
South Montgomery Community School Corporation
Southeast Fountain School Corporation
Tippecanoe School Corporation
Twin Lakes School Corporation

Technical Assistance and Research:

NCHS contracted Education Development Center (EDC) as the Technical Assistance (TA) provider that assisted schools during the planning phase and implementation phases of the initiative. The TA providers were chosen due to their expertise in assisting schools in implementing evidence-based programs as intended (with fidelity) by the curriculum developers. The professional evaluation firm, RTI International (RTI), was responsible for evaluating the program’s effectiveness and delivery, which is essential to administer evidence-based interventions into practice.

Lessons Learned

The Resilient Youth Initiative was developed with insight from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation and their Prevention Matters initiative. Throughout the grant and as part of the evaluation process, we shared successes, challenges, and tips for future schools looking to implement these evidence-based programs:

Leadership Matters: Schools require consistent support and buy-in from school leadership to successfully implement and sustain their prevention programming. Documenting and sharing program impact strengthens staff and administrator buy-in, which is critical to long-term program sustainability.

Build A Strong Base of Support: It is important to share prevention program responsibilities among a committee or task force. This minimizes the disruption caused by teacher turnover and helps spread enthusiasm for the prevention program throughout the school community.

Set Clear Implementation Goals: Embedding a new program into a school’s culture can be difficult, so schools should start small and scale program implementation over time. A step-by-step implementation plan with clear goals will ensure that all teachers remain focused on high-quality program implementation.

Regularly Monitor Implementation and Measure Impact: Tracking program success allows schools to improve their prevention instruction continuously. Staff should provide routine observations and feedback to ensure high-quality program implementation and regularly collect student outcomes data to assess program impact.

Consistency is Key: Schools can ensure consistency of their instruction by using district-wide lesson plans, fidelity checklists, and/or online lesson completion trackers.

Plan for Sustainability: Long-term program sustainability depends on prioritizing prevention programming in school and district budgets.

Grantee Resources

The following sources, created by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center, explain the approved evidence-based substance use prevention programs implemented by the Resilient Youth Initiative Grant recipients.

Evidence-Based Program Guide

Evidence-Based Program Guide High School Supplement

Funding and Implementing Successful Evidence-Based Prevention Programs


Please direct questions about the initiative to [email protected] and 765-423-1604.

The Resilient Youth Initiative was developed with insight from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation and their Prevention Matters initiative.

Updated: June 2023