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 created at the University of Virginia, along with the Sonima Foundation and with support from the Hemera Foundation and U.Va. alumnus Owsley Brown III and private 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


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







Invited Presentations:

Annette Lareau, Ph.D. – "Unequal Childhoods, Unequal Adulthoods: Small Moments and Large Consequences" – VIDEO

Maureen Weiss, Ph.D. – "Youth Development in Physical Activity Contexts: Promoting Social, Psychological, and Physical Assets" – VIDEO

Candice Odgers, Ph.D. – "Seven Fears and Countless Opportunities for Adolescents in the Digital World" – VIDEO


Works in Progress:

"Innovative Methods for Understanding Youth-Adult Connections"​ – Valerie Futch, Ph.D., Nancy Deutsch, Ph.D. – Podcast

"Investigating Diversity in Early Adolescence (The IDEA Project)" – Joanna Lee Williams, Ph.D. – Podcast

"Family Income and Adolescent Well-Being" – Tabitha Wurster, Ph.D. – Podcast

"How Adolescents Form Trust in Youth Program Leaders" – Aisha N. Griffith, Ph.D. – Podcast

Featured Articles

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Are Kids Getting More Virtuous?

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Youth Online - An Interactive Youth Behavior Data Exploration Tool

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Physical Health & Well-Being e-Book

Middle School e-Book

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