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Youth-Nex | The U.Va. Center to Promote Effective Youth Development

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Youth-Nex Leads Research to Study Health and Wellness Curriculum for Elementary Students
Letter From the Director, Patrick Tolan: The Compassionate Schools Project

We are excited to announce the launch of a six-year, $11 million randomized control trial, the Compassionate Schools Project, integrating a health and wellness curriculum for elementary students. The research is the most comprehensive ever undertaken of a 21st century health and wellness curriculum in an elementary or secondary school setting and was developed for K-5 students in 25 schools in Louisville, Kentucky.

We have formed a unique collaboration with private philanthropy, two centers at U.Va. (including Youth-Nex), the city of Louisville, and the Jefferson County Public Schools and aim to have a major impact on children’s education nationwide in terms of academic performance, physical education, character development, and child health policies­. I am joined in this work with Youth-Nex faculty members Patricia Jennings and Alexis Harris.

The curriculum was developed with support from the Sonima and Hemera Foundations and the research is supported in part by UVA alumnus Owsley Brown III of Louisville, along with other donors.

It is also important to note that this work could not have been undertaken without the leadership of Louisville mayor, Greg Fischer a dedicated partner of the Charter of Compassion movement.

We look forward to reporting more progress in the coming months. Keep up with this project and other developments on this website and in Youth-Nex newsletters.

-Patrick Tolan
Director, Youth-Nex

More Information on the Project:
Compassionate Schools Project

Press Coverage:
UVA TODAY - U.Va. Partners with Louisville Schools to Study Health and Wellness Curriculum
The Courier-Journal JCPS Project to Teach Compassion Classes
The Courier-Journal Compassion in Schools Great Step to Help Kids
WLKY - Louisville, JCPS Bring Compassion to Schools
WMRA - UVA Program Tests More 'Compassionate Schools'

The New York Times - Under Stress, Students in New York Schools Find Calm in Meditation

YOUTH-NEX  The Center to Promote Effective Youth Development — is a transdisciplinary center promoting healthy youth development, educational attainment and learning. Working across the University, Youth-Nex focuses on the assets of young people and works in a wide variety of areas including health management, civic engagement and education. Youth-Nex also aims to prevent youth problems such as violence, physical and mental health issues, substance abuse and school failure.

Youth-Nex programs of research focus on critical areas of youth development. These programs are multi-investigator, cross-disciplinary systematic research efforts. Each program is led by a U.Va. faculty member possessing substantial experience and expertise. It is our goal to generate new understanding about the most useful practices and appropriate policies in youth development.

Supportive Relationships 

Healthy Lifestyles 

Avoiding Risk

Engaged Citizenship 

Program Evaluation and Community Consultation







Feb. 25 - Amanda Kibler, Ph.D., et aliae - "'New Mainstream' Classrooms in the 21st century: How Does Linguistic Diversity Impact Learning?

March 17 - Mel Wilson, Ph.D. - "The Contextual Influences on a Family Prevention Intervention: The Early Steps Project"

April 14 - Nancy Deutsch, Ph.D. - "Youth-Adult Relationships Across Contexts and Time: A Mixed Methods Analysis of Patterns and Pathways"


"The Art of Providing Feedback In Project-Based Learning: What We Can Learn From Youth Programs" - Aisha Griffith, Ph.D., and Haley Johnson

"Using Multimedia-Based Professional Development to Improve Teachers' Vocabulary Instruction in Inclusive Classrooms - Michael Kennedy, Ph.D.


"Bringing Mindfulness and Compassion into the Classroom: Constructing Teacher Supports within the Compassionate Schools Project" - Alexis Harris, Ph.D.


"No Longer Bogged Down: Examining the Effects of a Youth Sports-Based Job Training Program" - Erin Murphy-Graham, Ph.D.


"Inequitable School Discipline Practices: Associated Disparities and Promising Directions for Intervention​" - Jessika Bottiani, Ph.D.


"Formation and Design of the Compassionate Schools Project" - Patrick H. Tolan, Ph.D.




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