Skip to main content

Keepin It Real


Keepin’ It Real is a multicultural drug-prevention program aimed at middle-school students. The curriculum extends the Life Skills model by introducing ethno-cultural narratives.

Target Problem

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Tobacco


  • School

Target Participants

  • Middle school students
  • Gender: Male and female

Assumptions and Outcomes

Main intermediate factor(s) assumed to influence substance misuse

  • Skills to resist drugs

Underlying assumptions

  • To be effective, a prevention program needs to use cultural narratives familiar to the participants
  • Emphasis is on teaching resistance strategies, which translates into Refuse, Explain, Avoid, and Leave (R.E.A.L.)

Non-substance misuse outcomes

  • Not documented since the program focuses on substance misuse only

Program Structure


  • The program has 10 lessons delivered in a 10-week period. Each lesson lasts for about 45 minutes.


  • Providers/facilitators: The facilitator of the program is classroom teacher who has received training from Keepin’ It Real
  • Training needed: Yes, a one-day program at Penn State University or at implementer’s location

Previous Implementations


  • The program has been implemented in 50 states and Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. The program incorporates ethnic values to enhance resilience to substance misuse.

Previous participants

  • Black or African American
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • White

Cultural relevance for Hawai‘i

No contextual relevance
Place-based or ethno-culture
Place-based and ethno-culture
Place-based or ethno-culture pertaining to Hawai‘i
Hawai‘i-oriented contextual relevance

Note: This framework was based on a study which examined several nationally recognized prevention programs to determine whether any may have cultural relevance to the context of Hawai‘i (Rehurer, Hiramatsu & Helm, 2008 ). We borrowed this framework and applied it to a more current list of EBPs. This approach looks at whether or not a program’s curriculum content was originated and developed with a certain place or culture in mind. A score of 0 (zero) indicates no specific reference to a place or an ethno-culture was included in the program’s development (no contextual cultural relevance) and a score of 4 (four) indicates that the program was developed either specifically for Hawai‘i or was developed somewhere else but was then also adapted for "local" and/or Native Hawaiian cultures. Placement of a program on the continuum was based on the sample population listed in their study reports and included considerations of 1) whether the program was ever implemented with populations similar to the racial/ethnic composition of Hawai‘i's population and 2) whether the program was ever adapted to meet the needs of a specified local or ethnic culture (for instance, was the curriculum has successfully implemented in Spanish or languages other than English?).

Ever implemented in Hawai‘i?

  • Yes

Previous implementation in Hawai‘i

Time Period
Honolulu County
Honolulu Police Department

Is there any published study with Hawai‘i participants?

  • No


Contact Information


  • Center on the Family, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. (2016). Prevention Programs Online Survey, 2014–2016 (Tool C2 & D5)
  • Center on the Family, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. (2013). Substance Abuse Prevention Resource Mapping Project
  • Rehuher, D., Hiramatsu, T., & Helm, S. (2008). Evidence-based youth drug prevention: a critique with implications for practice-based contextually relevant prevention in Hawai‘i. Hawaii Journal of Public Health. 1(1): 52-61. Retrieved from
  • Yuan, S., Sabino, S., & Wongkaren, T. (2013). Final evaluation report: Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant, State of Hawaii, 2006-2012. Honolulu, HI: Center on the Family, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.