Investigating a Positive Youth Development Approach to Improving Health and Educational Outcomes Among Adolescents

Project Summary

The project team investigated how a positive youth development and cross-age peer mentoring model known as Peer Group Connection impacted economically-disadvantaged students in urban high schools in New York City and rural high schools in North Carolina. This project complemented and extended prior and concurrent research by exploring the potential of a positive youth development model, with an emphasis on social and emotional learning, on adolescent health and educational outcomes.

Research Question(s)

  • What is the impact of the Peer Group Connection (PGC) positive youth development and cross-age peer mentoring program relative to the control condition on participants’ reported 1) stress, 2) anxiety, and 3) well-being?


  • Inform the implementation of peer youth development programs, by providing an increased understanding of the mechanisms through which cross-age peer group mentoring affects high school students.


Health & well-being: stress, anxiety, happiness, and optimism 

Other: continued school enrollment; number of suspension incidents; on-time grade-level promotion; participant-reported peer connectedness; self-efficacy in peer interactions; school engagement and attachment; aspirations for future education; competence in goal setting, decision-making, and coping skills; and sexual health behavior


The study employed an individual-level randomized control trial within an intent-to-treat framework.

Female students talking on a couch
Grantee and Partner organizations

Center for Supportive Schools, Inc.
The Policy & Research Group
New York City Department of Education

Grant status
Principal investigators
Sherry Barr, PsyD
Eric Jenner, MMC, PhD
Start date
Award amount
24 months

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