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Project Venture


Project Venture is an outdoor experiential youth development program designed for high-risk American Indian youth and youth from other ethnic groups. It aims to prevent substance abuse and related programs through classroom based problem-solving activities, outdoor experiential activities, adventure camps and treks and community-oriented service learning.

Target Problem 

 While the program does not provide any direct substance abuse prevention component, studies show it has positive outcome reducing the abuse of:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Inhalants
  • Community base (although it may have class-room components)
Target Participants 
  • Elementary to high school students
  • Age group: 6-18
  • Gender: Male and female

Assumptions and Outcomes

Main intermediate factor(s) assumed to influence substance abuse 
  • Self-concept
  • Community-service ethic
Underlying assumptions 
  • Habilitation, instead of rehabilitation. Rather than dwelling on negative ‘do not’ messages, PV adheres to traditional worldview where humans can create a positive environment through a process of thinking or conceptualizing, speaking and singing about desired outcomes.
  • Cultural elements are very important elements in the effectiveness of any prevention program.
Non-substance abuse outcomes 
  • Depression
  • Aggressive behaviors

Program Structure

  • The program typically includes one after-school session per week for 2 to 3 hours and one daylong weekend/vacation-time activity per month for a total of about 150 hours per year
  • Participants typically are in the program for one year, although some participants choose to re-enroll
Curriculum coverage 
  • Early adolescents, approximately grades 5 to 9
  • Providers/facilitators: Since the curriculum is complex, Project Venture typically is run by the developer’s staff members
  • Training needed: Yes, any ‘replication site’ requires a 2-day training for the prospective providers/facilitators

Previous Implementations

  • It started with Native American youth groups, but since 1990 it has been implemented in various sites in more than 30 states
  • It also has been implemented in Canada and Hungary
Previous participants 
  • Native Americans
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Native Hawaiian
  • White
Cultural relevance for Hawai‘i 
0No contextual relevance
1Place-based or ethno-culture
2Place-based and ethno-culture
3Place-based or ethno-culture pertaining to Hawai‘i
4Hawai‘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‘is 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 
LocationTime PeriodOrganization
Hawai‘i County2011–2012Aha Punana Leo, Inc.
2011–2012Hamakua Youth Foundation, Inc.
Maui County2010–2016Pa'ia Youth & Cultural Center
2010–2012Maui Youth & Family Services


Is there any published study with Hawai‘i participants?  
  • No


Contact Information 
  • For information about implementation, contact: McClellan Hall Executive Director of National Indian Youth Leadership Project, International Office, 2501 San Pedro NE, Suite 116, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110, Phone:505-870-4578  Email: or
  • For information about research, contact: Susan Carter, Ph.D., Phone: (505) 508-2232, Email:
  • Project Venture website:
  • Project Venture on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SHAMSA) National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP): Project Venture
  • 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.