“By adopting Project Venture you are joining a new community of youth workers willing to implement a program that is not ‘canned’, but requires creativity and dedication not usually found in other models.”
— Founder, McClellan (Mac) Hall
Substance misuse has been identified as one of the most troubling health issues facing American Indian (AI) communities. Herman-Stahl and Chong (2002) reported that 17% to 19% of all American Indians’ deaths are related to alcohol. Some epidemiological studies among adolescents indicate that American Indian youth initiate substance use at earlier ages, have more frequent rates or problem use among those who do use, are more likely to have tried multiple substances, and experience more negative social consequences from substance use (Beauvais, Jumper-Thurman, Helm, Plested & Burnside, 2004; May & Moran, 1995; Plunkett & Mitchell, 2000; Oetting, Edwards & Beauvais, 1989; Wallace et al., 2003). Despite reported higher rates of use overall, patterns of drug use for American Indian youth across time parallel patterns seen in the general population of youth (Beauvais et al., 2004; Wallace et al., 2003). Rates, patterns of use, and associated mortality rates underscore compelling need for innovation, funding, and implementation of effective prevention efforts focusing on American Indian/Alaska Native youth.
The training track Project Venture: Positive Youth Development for American Indian and Alaska Native Youth (PV) is an outdoors experiential youth development program designed for American Indian/Alaska Native youth at high risk for substance use and related problems. Project Venture was developed by the National Indian Youth Leadership Project (NIYLP), an American Indian-owned and -operated, community-based, nonprofit organization with 35 years of experience in youth development. NIYLP has conducted summer youth leadership camps since 1982, from which grew the year-round Project Venture model. In 1990, NIYLP received its first SAMHSA/CSAP grant to implement Project Venture. The program has operated continuously since that time in Native and other communities, regionally, nationally and internationally with nearly 70 implementations in 25 States and 8 provinces in Canada, as well as in Hungary and Jamaica.
Project Venture aims to prevent substance use and related problems through:
- Classroom-based problem-solving and skill-building activities
- Outdoor adventure-based experiential activities
- Adventure camps and treks
- Community-oriented service learning
- A year-long curriculum
The program relies on American Indian traditional values to help youth develop positive self-concept, effective social skills, community service ethic, internal locus of control, and increased decision-making and problem-solving skills. Project Venture was designed for and tested with early adolescents in grades 5 through 9 in American Indian school and community settings (approximately 75 percent American Indian) in rural and low socioeconomic areas. A high school mentoring component has been added.
The NNEDLearn training is a three-day introduction to PV that will introduce participants to the core components, scope and sequence of the year-long programming for Project Venture.
Who can participate?
Organizations may propose a team of three to five members. Strong preference will be given to American Indian/Alaska Native-serving organizations that can provide an organizational leader who delivers direct service to youth as well as a team with both “hard” and “soft” skills that establishes regular contact with youth.
Special skills may include technical outdoor adventure skills, first aid, and CPR skills. These skills may be acquired over the course of the first year, using contractors for highly skilled activities until staff are adequately trained. The “soft” interpersonal skills with adolescents are the most critical and the hardest to train.
Are you ready to implement the Project Venture program?
Prior to filling out the application, please review the Implementation Readiness Checklist (pdf) to learn more about what is required to implement this program.
What is required of participants?
Recognizing that it takes more than a 3-day virtual intensive training to implement new programs, SAMHSA requests that participating NNED member teams commit to the full NNEDLearn 2023 training model which includes Prepare; Learn; Implement
Due to the NNEDLearn 2023 training being fully virtual, accepted applicants must have access to a stable internet connection to participate in the NNEDLearn 2023 Project Venture training.
Objectives and expectations for each NNEDLearn stage for Project Venture are as follows:
The first stage of NNEDLearn involves preparing the NNED member team for the Learn stage (virtual training), and requires that team members:
- Participate in two pre-meeting webinars (dates listed below).
- Complete assignments as requested by trainer.
From April 25 – 27, 2023, teams will attend a 3-day virtual intensive training via Zoom.
Participants will learn:
- Core components of Project Venture.
- Strategies for successful implementation.
- Fidelity as related to implementation.
- Experiential education, outdoor education, and service learning as related to the Project Venture model.
- Culturally relevant programming.
- NIYLP’s approach to group development.
- Project Youth Venture’s implementation at other sites.
After the Learn stage (onsite training), all PV teams join together in a “community of practice” that receives ongoing coaching to help support uptake of the practice. Team members will:
- Participate in four 1-hour group coaching sessions with the trainer (dates listed below).
- Participate regularly in the online discussion forum.
- Complete implementation reporting assignments.
All teams will also be asked to complete a digital story/video documenting their team’s NNEDLearn experience, community need, and the implementation of the best practice. Please see the 2023 Digital Story (pdf) for additional information which contains important information on developing a digital story.
NNEDLearn teams are expected to pursue efforts to sustain the practice and to demonstrate outcome and impact as appropriate. Teams will:
- Complete follow up evaluations to provide input on outcomes and impact of NNEDLearn 2023.
- Create an implementation plan that can be supported by a local budget.
- Prepare a formal agreement with participating schools to ensure support, including active participation by teachers in project classrooms.
- Use community/cultural resources to guide program implementation.
- Have access to recreational space and equipment.
- Maintain staff-to-youth ratio of about 1:25 in classroom component and 1:7-15 in community-based component, in addition to teachers (in school) and service staff (community-based).
McClellan Hall, MA, Developer, Project Venture
Co-trainer: Heather Yazzie Campbell, MA
Prepare Webinar One:
- March 21, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm ET OR
- March 21, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm ET
Prepare Webinar Two:
- March 29, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm ET
Learn Stage (Virtual Training):
- Tuesday – Thursday, April 25 – 27, 2023 (via Zoom)
Implement Coaching Sessions: Four 1-hour coaching sessions:
- May 24, 4:00pm – 5:00 pm ET
- June 14, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm ET
- July 13, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm ET
- August 2, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm ET
The application period for NNEDLearn 2023 is now closed.
Thank you to all who applied. If you have any questions, please email NNEDLearn@nnedlearn.net.
Email NNEDLearn@nnedlearn.net for any questions related to NNEDLearn 2023.