January 28, 2013
Marquette, United Community Center receive $1.5 million federal grant for ongoing minority youth health project
Additional $875,000 grant allows Marquette researchers to study how Youth Empowerment Programs make a difference across the country
Marquette University and the United Community Center have received a $1.5 million grant to continue their work with minority youth who face disproportionately high health risks, a problem that persists across America. The work is part of 17 national Youth Empowerment Programs
funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health. Lawrence Pan, PT, PhD, FAPTA, and Paula Papanek, PT, ATC, PhD, FACSM, both of the Department of Physical Therapy in Marquette University's College of Health Sciences, are the two principal investigators of the UCC/Marquette partnership.
Marquette partnered with the UCC and Bruce Guadalupe Community School, serving at-risk Latino youth, on a program called Youth Empowered to Succeed. A short video highlighting the program’s success can be found here
“The UCC Youth Empowered to Succeed participants demonstrated a growth in their positive developmental assets compared to their peers,” said Ricardo Diaz, UCC executive director. “This means that the comprehensive interventions developed through the program helped them to be more focused students, more engaged in their community, and more resilient in their ability to resist negative influences.”
One of the more significant outcomes of the Marquette and UCC partnership was in the area of health and wellness. The program tested a trial lunch program at Bruce Guadalupe Community School. For six weeks, caloric intake at lunch was reduced from a pre-trial average of 922 calories to an average of 522 calories. These students lost an average weight of 3.5 pounds over the six weeks. At this rate, a controlled school lunch program could produce a 15 lbs weight loss over an entire school year.
YEP was developed as a way for higher education institutions to work with individual schools, school systems and community organizations toward the goal of addressing the social determinants of health and promoting healthy lifestyles in minority adolescents.
Pan was also asked to summarize the data across the YEP program nationally. Marquette is receiving a second $875,000 grant over five years to continue to provide program evaluation and technical assistance to six additional grantees.
“The data shows us that the Youth Empowerment Program is successful. But it wasn’t until we actually visited a number of these programs and saw with our own eyes the work these programs do that we fully grasped the YEP’s impact. It’s the emotional stories of students overcoming adversity that demonstrate this program is transformative,” said Pan. “At universities and colleges whose mission, in part, is service to the community, partnerships with community-based organizations allow both institutions to do what neither could do alone.”
Data is collected in areas such as sexual and reproductive health, violence prevention, health and wellness, and graduation rates. Researchers found that among youth in the YEP programs, high school graduation rates were 94 percent, compared to a 54 percent graduation rate among their peers. Arrest rates were lower for students participating in the YEP program as well—only two juveniles from YEP programs were arrested per 100, compared to an average rate of 13 arrests per 100 juveniles living in the same communities but not participating in the program.
Other data highlights from some of the 17 program sites include:
- In Salt Lake City, Utah, Hispanic teen mothers have an 18.6 percent annual rate of repeat pregnancies. By contrast, teen mothers participating in the Latinas Adelante program at the University of Utah had a repeat pregnancy rate of only 6.6 percent, almost two-thirds less than the expected rate.
- In Dayton, Ohio, the K4L program hosted at Central State University saw only one arrest in a cohort of 41 black male juveniles, a rate of less than 3 percent, compared to a local arrest rate of 38 percent in that same demographic category.
- At Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, NY, the Empowering Youths to Excel and Succeed (EYES) project provides a comprehensive nutrition and exercise program. EYES resulted in impressive weight loss in African American and Hispanic high school youth, from an average of 145 pounds to 125 pounds over the first two years of the program.