About the Promise Neighborhoods Research Consortium

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has funded the Promise Neighborhood Research Consortium (PNRC) to assist high-poverty neighborhoods in America in translating existing knowledge into widespread, multiple improvements in wellbeing. Neighborhoods of concentrated poverty often have high levels of drug abuse, antisocial behavior, depression, academic failure, and intergenerational poverty. Recent research shows that substantial reductions in the prevalence of all of these problems are achievable (National Research Council & Institute of Medicine, 2009). Thus, it is important to provide neighborhoods and communities with the best available prevention and treatment interventions.

The Obama administration has called for a “Promise Neighborhoods” initiative, in which 20 high-poverty neighborhoods will receive help in implementing comprehensive preventive interventions. However, the scientific infrastructure to support such interventions and to conduct the research needed to evaluate them and refine them does not yet exist. If we are able to create such an infrastructure, it will be possible to assist more than 20 neighborhoods.

The Consortium is building a network of neighborhood and community leaders and behavioral scientists who can work together to improve wellbeing in high-poverty neighborhoods. It will identify evidence-based prevention and treatment interventions (strategies, practices, programs, and policies) that communities can adopt and implement. It will also define and help communities implement measures of wellbeing and of risk and protective factors fundamental to knowing whether prevention and treatment interventions are achieving their intended benefits.

The PNRC is developing community-based research initiatives on the impact of evidence-based policies, programs, and practices when implemented in high-poverty communities. At the same time, it will develop the capacity of early-career and local community prevention scientists to conduct research and support evidence-based practices.

All of these activities will benefit from a state-of-the-art website that networks people and organizations, obtains and displays data about neighborhoods, disseminates information about evidence-based interventions, advocates for intervention and research in high-poverty neighborhoods, and supports intervention research in these neighborhoods.

Literature Cited

National Research Council & Institute of Medicine (2009). Preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among young people: progress and possibilities. Committee on Prevention of Mental Disorders and Substance Abuse Among Children, Youth, and Young Adults: Research Advances and Promising Interventions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.