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Across Ages

Ages 10-12

Rating: Level 3


Across Ages is a research-based mentoring initiative designed to increase the resiliency and protective factors of at-risk youths through a comprehensive intergenerational approach. The basic concept of the program is to pair older adult volunteers (55 and older) with students (10 to 13 years old) to create a special bonding relationship. The project also uses community service activities, provides a classroom-based life-skills curriculum, and offers parent-training workshops. Older mentors—by acting as advocates, challengers, nurturers, role models, and friends—help children develop the awareness, self-confidence, and skills they need to resist drugs and overcome overwhelming obstacles.


The Across Ages program was evaluated using a randomized pretest–posttest control group design. Pretest and posttest data was collected at the beginning and end of each academic year from 1991 through 1994. Each year the same three Philadelphia, Pa., urban middle schools participated in the program. Experimental and control groups were randomly selected from among the sixth grade classes whose teachers agreed to participate in the program and then were assigned to one of three groups. Group C was the control group receiving no intervention. Group PS was an experimental group that participated in the classroom-based life skills curriculum, performed community service, and had parent workshops. Finally, Group MPS participated in the classroom-based life skills curriculum, performed community service, had parent workshops, and received mentoring from older adults. The evaluation research tested the hypothesis that students in the treatment groups would demonstrate more positive outcomes on the posttest than those in the control group and that the most multifaceted approach (MPS) would result in the most positive change. Of the 729 students completing the pretest, 562 also completed the posttest. The sample was 53 percent female, 52.2 percent African-American, 15.8 percent white, 9.1 percent Asian-American, 9.0 percent Hispanic, and 13.9 percent “other.”


The evaluation results indicate significant positive outcomes on numerous resiliency factors for at-risk youths. The program interventions, especially those for the mentored group, do the following:

  • Encourage appropriate reactions to situations in which students are offered drugs or alcohol by peers
  • Increase positive attitudes toward school, youths’ futures, older people, and youths’ participation in community service
  • Increase sense of self-worth and promote feelings of well-being
  • Reduce feelings of sadness and loneliness and discourage use of various substances

The findings indicate that mentoring was critical to the success of the program, but interventions in multiple domains are critical for success. To be effective, prevention initiatives must unite youths and important adults in their lives in a collaborative effort to develop positive coping skills and strategies for resisting alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

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
  • Mental disorder/Mental health problem/Conduct disorder
  • Poor refusal skills


  • Poor family attachment/Bonding


  • Dropping out of school
  • Low academic achievement
  • Negative attitude toward school/Low bonding/Low school attachment/Commitment to school
  • Truancy/Frequent absences

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


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


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


  • High expectations
  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults
  • Prosocial opportunities for participation / Availability of neighborhood resources


  • SAMHSA: Model Programs


LoSciuto, L.; A. Rajala; T. Townsend; and A. Taylor. 1996. “An Outcome Evaluation of Across Ages: An Intergenerational Mentoring Approach to Drug Prevention.” Journal of Adolescent Research 11(1):116–29.


Andrea S. Taylor, Ph.D.
Center for Intergenerational Learning
1601 North Broad Street, USB 206
Temple University
Philadelphia, PA 19122
Phone: (215) 204-6733
Fax: (215) 204-3195
Web site:

Technical Assistance Provider

Andrea S. Taylor, Ph.D.
Temple University
1601 North Broad Street, USB 206
Philadelphia, PA 19122
Phone: (215) 204-6708