Search for Programs to Help YouthSearch for Programs to Help Youth

Movimiento Ascendencia

Ages 8-19

Rating: Level 3


Movimiento Ascendencia (Upward Movement) was established in Pueblo, Colo., to provide girls with positive alternatives to substance use and gang involvement. Outreach workers recruited 8- to 19-year-old females to the program, though some girls were instead referred to it. The program, which serves both at-risk and gang-involved youth, is headed by the Pueblo Youth Services Bureau and consists of a project director, a coordinator, and three outreach workers who are trained in conflict mediation and resolution skills, signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse, and providing information on sexuality, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases. The five professionals work closely together.

Activities are designed around three main components: cultural awareness, mediation or conflict resolution, and self-esteem or social support. Participation in any of the Movimiento Ascendencia activities is voluntary. The program includes

  • Mentoring. Girls are matched with a female mentor with whom they spend at least 2 hours a week for 9 months.
  • Organized sports and recreational activities, such as movies, pizza parties, and talent and fashion shows.
  • U*R*IT—tutoring and homework support given by staff twice a week after school within the school. This component also includes gender-specific life skills training on topics such as self-esteem, pregnancy prevention, personal grooming, personal safety and self-defense, loss and grief, relationships and emotions, and career goals.
  • Cultural enhancement—attending cultural fairs, listening to speakers talk about different cultures, day trips into Denver or Colorado Springs.
  • Case management. An initial home visit and needs assessment is conducted when a girl first joins the program. She is referred to services in the community.
  • Parental involvement. Parents transport children to activities and scheduling activities that include the family, such as an annual awards banquet.
  • Safe Haven provides a safe place where girls can go within their communities.


The program was evaluated as part of a study looking at adolescent female gang intervention/prevention programs. A nonequivalent-group, quasi-experimental design was used to study gang members, former gang members, and non–gang members. The treatment group consisted of a random sample of program participants, while the control group consisted of a “snowball” sample gathered through school and juvenile justice contacts. Interview-based surveys were conducted during the final 12 months of the program. Level of delinquency was measured by incidents such as throwing objects at people or cars, purposely damaging or destroying someone else’s property, running away from home, stealing or trying to steal something worth less than $50, stealing or trying to steal something worth more than $50, carrying a concealed weapon other than a pocket knife, and knowingly buying, selling, or holding stolen goods. Academic performance and self-esteem were also measured. The treatment group consisted of 61 girls, 32 non–gang members, 20 gang members, and 9 former gang members. The control group also consisted of 61 girls, 32 non–gang members, 13 gang members, and 16 former gang members. The girls in the treatment group averaged 14.8 years of age; the control group’s average age was 15.4. There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups at baseline.


Girls in the treatment group showed a greater reduction in delinquency than girls in the control group during the preprogram and postprogram periods. This difference was statistically significant, at the .01 level. Preprogram reports showed that the control group had significantly higher grades than the treatment group. Postprogram reports showed that both groups had statistically significant increases in reported average grades, resulting in a nonsignificant difference between the two groups after the program. There were no differences found in the Hare self-esteem scale measures between the two groups.

Risk Factors


  • Cognitive and neurological deficits/Low intelligence quotient/Hyperactivity
  • Favorable attitudes toward drug use/Early onset of AOD use/Alcohol and/or drug use
  • Mental disorder/Mental health problem/Conduct disorder
  • Poor refusal skills


  • Low academic achievement
  • Negative attitude toward school/Low bonding/Low school attachment/Commitment to school


  • Neighborhood youth in trouble


  • Gang involvement/Gang membership

Protective Factors


  • Healthy / Conventional beliefs and clear standards
  • Social competencies and problem-solving skills


  • Opportunities for prosocial family involvement


  • Strong school motivation / Positive attitude toward school


  • Involvement with positive peer group activities


Williams, Katherine, G. David Curry, and Marcia I. Cohen. 1999. Evaluation of Youth Gang Drug Intervention/Prevention Programs for Female Adolescents Volume 1: Final Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice.

———. 2002. Gang Prevention Programs for Female Adolescents: An Evaluation. In Winifred L. Reed and Scott H. Decker (eds.). Responding to Gangs: Evaluation and Research. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, 225–63.


Molly Melendez
Pueblo Youth Services Bureau
1920 Valley Drive
Pueblo, CO 81008
Phone: (719) 542-5161
Fax: (719) 542-1335