Principal Investigator:
Velma McBride Murry, Ph.D.

Funding Agency:
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

What is the Pathways for African-American Success Project?

The Pathways for African American Success (PAAS) Project is a youth development program for rural African American families. This federally funded study is designed to evaluate the effectiveness of a six-week, risk behavior preventive intervention program targeting rural African American parents/caregivers and their 7th grade children.

The primary goal of this project is to help rural African American adolescents improve their decision-making and avoid engaging in high-risk behavior such as substance use and sexual activity. The program targets strengthening families and individuals as a means to empower adolescents with the skills they need to engage in positive decisions and start planning for their futures.

The PAAS curriculum, a modified version of The Strong African American Families Program (SAAF) developed through an award to Murry (R01-MH 63043), is the only technology-driven family-based preventive intervention designed to prevent rural African American youth from engaging in risky behaviors. The SAAF and PAAS curricula are based on findings that Murry and colleagues have obtained from more than a decade of longitudinal research with rural African American youth and their families, feedback from focus groups of rural African Americans, and extant intervention research.  

Educational Themes will include (but are not limited to):

♦  Acknowledging and dealing with changes in caregiver / pre-teen decison making processes as adolescents get older
♦  Identifying the pre-teens' passions and supporting their goals
♦  Family values and getting along at home
♦  Helping teens with peer pressure
♦  Caregiver's involvement in the pre-teen's school experiences and helping pre-teens stay in school


What will participating families receive?

♦  Information and support on how to deal with issues youth face during adolescence
♦  $150 payment ($100 parent & $50 youth) for each interview
♦  Transportation to and from sessions
♦  Childcare for non-participating children
♦  Meals provided for all group-based sessions


What will famiiles do? 

Approximately 525 families in West TN are being asked to participate in this study. Families will be randomly chosen to participate in 1 of 3 ways:

  1. About 175 families will receive educational information in the mail at their homes once a week for six weeks in a row.
  2. About 175 families will meet together in small groups (about 10 families per group) in a community settting once a week for six weeks in a row.
  3. About 175 families will complete a computer-based program in a community setting once a week for six weeks in a row.

Computer-Based Intervention

The Center for Research on Rural Families and Communities is excited about our current project. We are in the process of developing a computer-based family intervention which uses real youth and their voices for animated characters. Take a look at our youth characters and the talented young actors who portray them!


Characters Drawn by Shawn Van Briesen of Symbolene Systems, Inc.