Schools are ideal avenues through which to reach youth with universal substance use prevention and social and emotional learning (SEL) programs. Yet educational leaders face significant challenges in effectively implementing these programs, including providing teachers with the training and coaching to guide them in engaging students in the programs.

EDC partnered with the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation of Indianapolis (Foundation) to provide technical assistance to school leaders and program coordinators who are funded by the Foundation’s Prevention Matters initiative to sustain evidence-based programs focused on substance use prevention and SEL. Through Prevention Matters, the Foundation committed nearly $12 million to implement evidence-based prevention programs in public K–12 schools (traditional, charter, and innovation network) and accredited private K–12 schools in Marion County, IN.

Key Activities

EDC activities included the following:

  • Delivered an academy to guide program coordinators in understanding critical components of a comprehensive plan for selecting, implementing, and sustaining a program
  • Provided technical assistance focused on effective program implementation, including the challenges of maintaining program fidelity during pandemic-related closures and transitions
  • Conducted webinars on data collection, program fidelity, coaching, and sustainability planning
  • Conducted affinity groups facilitated by EDC experts and program developers to support districts that were implementing the same programs
  • Guided program coordinators to effectively engage school and community stakeholders to institutionalize the program and embed the approach into the school and district mission


  • The program planning academy trained 45 educators in the identification of programs and a basic understanding of implementation science as a foundation for planning.
  • The project provided 27 school teams with training and technical assistance over four years.
  • Prevention Matters funding served 177 Indianapolis schools, delivering proven prevention programs to 77,500 students by the end of the 2021-2022 school year.
  • The project equipped students with skills that help them avoid alcohol and other drugs and improve their academic achievement, attendance, classroom behavior, and well-being.
  • With support from the Foundation and technical supports from EDC experts, participating districts accomplished the following:
    • Established systems to ensure the effective implementation of evidence-based SEL and behavioral health programs
    • Increased collaboration with community organizations
    • Integrated SEL into academic instruction
    • Supported both students’ and educators’ social-emotional development
    • Put in place systems and protocols to sustain SEL and behavioral health efforts


Learn More

Prevention Matters Technical Assistance
Richard M. Fairbanks Prevention

Prevention First of Illinois