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Project PACE

Ages 9-10

Rating: Level 3


Project PACE (Participation And Cooperation in Education) is a prevention program designed to prevent the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug by providing a series of intensive interventions to at-risk fourth grade students and their families. The interventions, grouped by domain, increase protective factors and reduce risk factors. They include

  • Individual—weekly student groups in school, regular individual student meetings with a prevention specialist, in-home family meetings, monthly student field trips, family activities, residential overnight summer camp, weekend overnight retreats, and involvement in recreational, community service, and social activities.
  • Family—in-home family meetings, family activities, parent education group meetings, parent participation in student residential camp experience, field trips and cultural events, counseling, and casework services/referrals relating to such basic needs as employment, education, English as a Second Language programs, food stamps, and Medicaid.
  • School—a buddy system created to support program families’ participation/attendance at PTA and other school meetings, prevention specialists serving as liaisons/ombudspersons between families and school, and district advisory councils to empower parents (especially minority parents).


The evaluation used a true experimental pretest–posttest control group design. Sixty-four at-risk multicultural youths (and an equal number of control youths) were randomly selected from a pool of current third graders in Huntington, N.Y. The youths were identified and ranked according to risk factor scores. Program youths and families received the intensive services of the PACE program for 1 year. PACE staff provided the following intervention strategies:

  • In-school weekly sessions (twice a week per classroom per school)
  • Individual student meetings with prevention specialists
  • Participant involvement in recreational, community, and social activities
  • Weekend overnight retreats and summer camp
  • In-home visits with prevention specialists
  • Family participation activities including educational programs, overnight camping, field trips, cultural activities, and (if necessary) casework services and referrals
  • School/family activities including “Parent Buddy System” at PTA and other school meetings, “Parent Advisory Council,” and “Building Cooperative Support With Schools”
  • Conducting opinion /attitude surveys of parents and children program and control groups

Program and control youths were followed for 4 years to determine the long-term effects of the program. Following each program year, students were asked to complete the PACE Student Subjective Evaluation. Parents completed the Parent Subjective Survey instrument. A similar replication project was executed in East Boston, Mass. The Huntington project is compared with both the original Lancaster, Pa., and East Boston projects.


Both students and their families reported feeling that the PACE program was beneficial to the students. Although analysis from the evaluation suggests mixed results, several outcomes from participation in the program were favorable:

  • A positive impact was made on reducing sixth grade absences.
  • Low-risk participants showed increased self-esteem.
  • Negative problem behaviors for the high-risk group decreased.

The control group reported substantially more beer use on the posttest.

Risk Factors


  • Anti-social behavior and alienation/Delinquent beliefs/General delinquency involvement/Drug dealing
  • Cognitive and neurological deficits/Low intelligence quotient/Hyperactivity
  • Favorable attitudes toward drug use/Early onset of AOD use/Alcohol and/or drug use
  • Life stressors
  • Mental disorder/Mental health problem/Conduct disorder
  • Poor refusal skills
  • Victimization and exposure to violence


  • Broken home
  • Child victimization and maltreatment
  • Family history of the problem behavior/Parent criminality
  • Family management problems/Poor parental supervision and/or monitoring
  • Family violence
  • Low parent education level/Illiteracy
  • Parental use of physical punishment/Harsh and/or erratic discipline practices
  • Pattern of high family conflict
  • Poor family attachment/Bonding


  • Dropping out of school
  • Identified as learning disabled
  • Inadequate school climate/Poorly organized and functioning schools/Negative labeling by teachers
  • Low academic achievement
  • Negative attitude toward school/Low bonding/Low school attachment/Commitment to school
  • Truancy/Frequent absences


  • Community crime/High crime neighborhood
  • Economic deprivation/Poverty/Residence in a disadvantaged neighborhood


  • Association with delinquent and/or aggressive peers
  • Gang involvement/Gang membership
  • Peer alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drug use
  • Peer rejection

Protective Factors


  • Healthy / Conventional beliefs and clear standards
  • High expectations
  • Perception of social support from adults and peers
  • Positive / Resilient temperament
  • Positive expectations / Optimism for the future
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social competencies and problem-solving skills


  • Effective parenting
  • Good relationships with parents / Bonding or attachment to family
  • Opportunities for prosocial family involvement
  • Rewards for prosocial family involvement


  • High expectations of students
  • High quality schools / Clear standards and rules
  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults
  • Strong school motivation / Positive attitude toward school
  • Student bonding (attachment to teachers, belief, commitment)


  • Clear social norms / Policies with sanctions for violations and rewards for compliance
  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults


  • Good relationships with peers
  • Involvement with positive peer group activities


  • SAMHSA: Model Programs


Georgiou, Maria, and T. Webster. 2000. Project Pace (Participation and Cooperation in Education): Final Report. Huntington, N.Y.: Huntington Youth Bureau.


Maria Georgiou, R.C.S.W., Executive Director
Huntington Youth Bureau
423 Park Avenue
Huntington, NY 11743
Phone: (631) 351-3061
Fax: (631) 271-1360