Pathways Research Projects (2014-2019)

The following projects of the Pathways Research and Training Center completed between 2014 and 2019.

Project FUTURES: Fostering Unity Towards Uplifting Resilience, Education, and Success

Project Summary

Project FUTURES was a campus-based mentoring intervention to enhance self-determination and college retention among young adults with foster care histories and mental health stressors. The project matched students with near-peer mentors who were farther along in college and had shared lived experiences. FUTURES mentors were trained and supervised to help students navigate post-secondary systems and to manage life stressors in ways that supported academic success. Mentors specifically helped students identify and pursue short-term goals related to academic engagement and success and facilitated connections to student groups and other campus supports, including Campus Champions across a variety of departments who were trained by the project to provide an extra layer of support.

Project Outcomes

Sixty-five young adults, 18 to 26 years of age, with self-identified mental health stressors and foster care backgrounds were randomly assigned to intervention and control groups. The intervention group showed statistically significant gains on measures of self-determination, career-related self-efficacy, and mental health empowerment, compared to the control group. Although most of these post-intervention findings were not maintained at follow-up, the intervention group was statistically more likely than the control group to still be enrolled in a post-secondary program at follow-up. Findings indicate that specialized college support programs for this population can support important outcomes, including college retention.

Articles/Key Publications

Supporting College Student Success through Connections to Mentors and Campus Champions: A Strategy Brief for Campus-Based Mentors and Other Student Support Programs

Tip Sheet: Helping Young Adults from Foster Care Succeed in College


Findings from a Near-Peer Coaching Intervention for College Students with Foster Care Backgrounds and Mental Health Challenges

Tip Sheet: Helping Young Adults from Foster Care Succeed in College

EASA Connections

Project Summary

EASA Connections used a community-based participatory research approach to develop and pilot a peer-created, peer-driven web-based intervention for young adults who are new to the EASA early psychosis program. The intervention consisted of independently using the website and having motivational contact with a Peer Navigator. It aimed to impact short-term outcomes related to knowledge of psychosis, treatment, and goal-setting; self-efficacy; self-esteem; hopefulness; internalized stigma; social support; and engagement with the program – with a long-term aim to impact self-determination. The team conducted a small pilot study with a pre-post design using a mixed-methods approach to test the intervention’s feasibility and acceptability with both young adults and their clinicians.

Project Outcomes

The completed website included five modules – 1) Introduction; 2) Psychosis; 3) Strengths, goals, and challenges; 4) Shared decision-making; 5) Staying connected – and multimedia content developed by peers. A usability study was conducted with four people, with the team iteratively making changes and re-testing until issues were resolved. Then the piloted the intervention with 28 young adults, and interviewed five clinicians. The analysis is not complete, but preliminary results suggest the intervention was feasible and acceptable, with the peer connection both in site content and with the Peer Navigator particularly appreciated. Although the study was not designed to measure outcome efficacy, short-term outcomes improved significantly, indicating the instruments could be used to measure efficacy in a future trial.

Article/Key Publication(s)

Raymaker, D.M., Sale T., Rija M., Buekea, N., Caruso, N., Melton, R., Cohrs, N., Gould, V., Wall, C., Scharer, M. (In review). EASA Connections: Community-based participatory research to develop an accessible online early psychosis intervention for young and emerging adults. Progress in Community Health Partnerships.

Mitigating Early Loss of Community Participation in Early Psychosis Services: State of the Science.

Technology-Enhanced Coaching for Positive Development (TEC)

Project Summary

The Technology-Enhanced Coaching for Positive Development (TEC) study tested a workforce intervention that uses state-of-the-art technology to implement high-quality coaching and supervision to practitioners working as transition facilitators with emerging adults with serious mental health challenges (SMHCs). The TEC study aimed to increase the frequency and skill with which practitioners utilize key strategies to promote positive development outcomes – particularity self-determination and community living and participation – among emerging adults with SMHCs.

Project Outcomes

The study demonstrated the feasibility, acceptability and efficiency of a workforce-development approach that included innovations at two levels. At the level of direct service, providers received supervisor coaching that conformed to elements of best practice, including maintenance and active use of an ongoing plan for practice improvement, and practice feedback that included review of video clips of provider practice drawn from sessions with young adult clients. In turn, supervisors were supported by practice experts who reviewed providers’ video recordings and offered feedback through summaries, ratings and video clips for use with providers/supervisees.

Article/Key Publication(s)/Ongoing Activities

The TEC Supervision Protocol and Learning Practice Agreement Tool. This tool provides supervisors and young adult service providers a structured format for reviewing the service provider's practice in the field and provides a guide for the discussion of areas of strength, areas of growth, and mutually agreed upon professional development goals for the service provider. For more information, contact Caitlin Baird at

System/Policy Analysis and Change (S/PAC)

Project Summary

The System/Policy Assessment and Change Project (S/PAC) completed four sub-projects (described below), each of which addressed a different policy or system issue relevant to the successful transition of young adults to self-determined community living and community participation.

Project Outcomes

Young Adults Affecting Policy Change. Based on data from interviews with the leaders of nine young adult-led organizations, the team documented and analyzed the processes, strategies, and outcomes by which organized groups of young adults engage in policy analysis and action relevant to transition. The project generated a tip sheet and policy guide based on the findings.

Housing Policy. The team researched and documented the issues around housing for youth and young adults with mental health challenges. A report was developed for an audience of mental health planners and policy makers and includes service delivery options that are developmentally appropriate for young adults.

Family Involvement in the Transition Process. This project entailed reviewing the available research about the benefits and barriers to family-member involvement with the mental health services for their young adult with mental health challenges. An article summarizing this research has been submitted to the Journal of Child and Family Studies.

Youth/Young Adult Voice at the Agency Level (Y-VAL): Validation of an Assessment. This project validated the Youth/Young Adult Voice at the Agency Level (Y-VAL) assessment tool. Developed through a collaboration between Youth MOVE National and Pathways RTC, the Y-VAL helps youth-serving agencies assess their success at meaningfully involving youth and young adults in decision making at the agency level. For the Y-VAL validation study, the research team gathered data from ~450 stakeholders nationally via an online survey.

For more information on using the Y-VAL to assess how your organization is doing at incorporating youth/young adult voice, visit Youth MOVE National's website for details and contact information.

Article/Key Publication(s)

Changing the Rules: A Guide for Youth and Young Adults with Mental Health Conditions Who Want to Change Policy

Advice to Young Adults from Young Adults: Helpful Hints for Policy Change in the Mental Health System

Housing and Transition: Meeting the Needs of Young Adults with Mental Health Conditions

Assessing the Meaningful Inclusion of Youth Voice in Policy and Practice: State of the Science

Achieve My Plan Plus (AMP+): Developing the Young Adult Peer Support Workforce

Project Summary

The existing research literature identifies a number of key challenges to successful implementation of the Peer Support Specialist (PSS) role for youth and young adults with serious mental health conditions. Among the top challenges are a lack of clarity regarding the role and its specific activities, and a lack of high quality, developmentally appropriate training and coaching to support the role. As a means of addressing these challenges, the AMP+ project team – which included young people with experience as PSSs and PSS supervisors – developed and tested a skills-enhancement training for PSS and their supervisors.

Project Outcomes

Findings from the AMP+ study show significant improvements in PSS trainee confidence and competencies for working with youth/young adults as assessed by raters’ scores of PSS practice in video recordings, and as assessed subjectively by the PSS trainees themselves. Additionally, PSS trainees’ ratings showed a significant decrease in work-based anxiety, and they were also highly satisfied with the training/coaching experience.

Article/Key Publication(s)

The AMP+ Skills Enhancement Training for Peer Support Providers

Using "Remote" Training and Coaching to Increase Providers' Skills for Working Effectively with Older Youth and Young Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions

Peer Support for Youth and Young Adults who Experience Serious Mental Health Conditions: State of the Science

What Is Peer Support and What Is Not Peer Support?

AMP E-Module: Youth-Driven Conversation – Avoiding Some Common Mistakes

AMP E-Module: Youth-Driven Conversation – Avoiding Some Common Mistakes (Study Guide)

AMP E-Module: Questions in Person-Centered and Youth-Driven Conversation

AMP E-Module: Questions in Person-Centered and Youth-Driven Conversation (Study Guide)

Meaningful Networks Model (MNM)

Project Summary

The focus of this project was the creation of the Meaningful Networks Model (MNM) program curriculum to enhance social network development and community participation among young adults who are either experiencing or at risk for serious mental health conditions, and who are also expected to have limited support networks due to histories of out-of-home placement.

The MNM curriculum uses group-based skills training in understanding and using support networks, maintaining positive relationships, and making new connections to enhance personal well-being and support success in a range of domains. The program will include near-peer mentoring and peer support components, and well as group and community participation activities structured to expose young people to new settings to gain familiarity in accessing formal and informal social support resources. Program components will be designed to enhance network-based support, increase community participation, and encourage help-seeking.

Project Outcomes

The project team included input from young people ages 14–25 in the development of the curriculum. The project team then piloted the in-person project with their youth advisors. The curriculum is split into eight modules that focus on the following topics: social support, building support networks, well-being and mindfulness, community participation, personal priorities, goal-setting, connecting with peers, and connecting with allies. The project team is currently modifying the curriculum into an online format. This will allow young people to join the program with increased flexibility, and will reach young people in more isolated areas.

Pathways Transition Training Partnership (PTTP)

Project Summary

The Pathways Transition Training Partnership (PTTP) identified a set of transition service practice competencies and tested a competency rating scale for providers. PTTP next designed and launched Promoting Positive Pathways to Adulthood (PPPA), a series of 10 free online training modules to promote the competencies. These modules aimed at increasing skills in engaging and supporting young people with mental health challenges in the transition years and were tested for effectiveness with 20 partner organizations. In partnership with Youth MOVE National, PTTP also conducted a national survey of training needs of transition service providers. Based on results of the survey, PTTP developed Pathways Transition Video Briefs, a set of brief online trainings addressing highly rated topics.

Project Outcomes

The Transition Service Provider Competency Scale was found to be a reliable measure of providers' ratings of their self-efficacy in providing transition services, and can be used to gauge the effect of workforce development efforts. A study compared the effectiveness of PPPA online training only to online training enhanced through team-based practice exercises. Both approaches significantly increased providers' self-efficacy ratings, with those who also participated in team-based exercises achieving higher knowledge scores. In responses to the online training needs survey, 254 transition service providers rated training in trauma-informed care, understanding youth culture, promoting natural supports, and using culturally responsive practices as their highest training needs.

Article/Key Publication(s)

Development and Psychometric Testing of the Transition Service Provider Competency Scale

Is Online Training an Effective Workforce Development Strategy for Transition Service Providers? Results of a Comparative Study

Training Needs of Peer and Non-Peer Transition Service Providers: Results of a National Survey

Promoting Positive Pathways to Adulthood Training Series, and Pathways Transition Video Briefs