iRT Partners with College Access for All

Monday, June 3, 2019

iRT has partnered with College Access for All, an initiative developed by NYC Schools and Mayor Bill de Blasio to ensure all students are engaged in a “college-ready” culture.

Hundreds of schools participate in this initiative, which was designed to help students form a career and college plan upon graduation from high school. College Access for All provides several support services for students, including funding Student Success Centers, eliminating application fees to the City University of New York, and providing for high school juniors to take the SAT for free.

To assist students and teachers, College Access for All compiles a vendor list of programs for middle and high schools developed to benefit at-risk students. iRT now has two products included in College Access for All’s vendor list: the Connected Scholars program and the Aware program. The Connected Scholars program is a college preparatory curriculum designed to engage students in Youth-Initiated Mentoring practices as well as other career and professional development skills. Students in the Connected Scholars program learn how to build on and enhance their existing relationships to create a network of support for their academic and career success. The Aware program is a mindfulness education program for teenagers designed to help adolescents skillfully refine their abilities to regulate their emotions and make healthy decisions. For all its products, iRT uses research-based methods to design and implement programs that are intended to have the greatest possible impact.

In addition to participating in the online dissemination efforts used by College Access for All, iRT Research Specialist Karen Burns attended the College Access for All Expo on May 17, 2018, at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York. She spoke with school administrators and staff, as well as other partner organizations, about the Connected Scholars and Aware programs.

iRT is excited to collaborate with the NYC Department of Education in their pursuit of expanding college readiness to all students. We look forward to continuing to impact youth in positive ways in New York Schools and throughout the United States and the world.

For more information about the topics discussed in this article, please visit the links below. College Access for All Connected Scholars Program AWARE Mindfulness Program Innovation Research and Training, Inc.

College Access For All

iRT Researchers Will Present At North Carolina Sexual Health Conference

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Dr. Christina Malik, Elyse Keefe, and Abigail Morrison from Prevention Central (a division of innovation Research & Training) will be presenting at the SHIFT NC annual conference, Diving Below the Surface: Exploring the Depths of Adolescent Sexual Health, next week on Thursday, May 16, 2:00-3:15 p.m., in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Sexual Health Initiatives for Teens (SHIFT) is a North Carolina nonprofit organization that is committed to improving adolescent and young adult sexual health. For nearly two decades, the organization’s annual conference has brought together groups who are committed to improving sexual health for young people. And, for several years, iRT has been proud to contribute by presenting at the conference about what we’ve learned from our groundbreaking research on promoting healthy behaviors among youth.

Our hands-on session for this year, Adolescent Sexual Health in the Digital Age: Addressing Consent and Healthy Relationships Using a Media Literacy Education Approach, will explain and demonstrate how our innovative approach to sexual health can be used by educators as well as health care and youth-serving professionals.

Throughout our presentation, the Prevention Central research team will share how media literacy education can be used as an effective framework for talking about important sexual health topics such as gender role stereotypes, rape myths, consent, and healthy relationships. Rather than a traditional lecture, we will invite attendees to participate in the presentation through opportunities to actively analyze media messages. In addition, attendees will gain valuable practice in media advocacy by creating positive messages together.

In addition to our presentation, the broader Prevention Central media literacy education team will have a chance to connect with and learn from other colleagues at the conference. On both May 16 and 17, team members will be staffing an exhibit table at the conference in order to network and share more information about Prevention Central prevention programs and research findings.

“I always look forward to the SHIFT NC conference,” said Dr. Christina Malik, a media literacy and sexual health education research scientist. “It is a great opportunity to connect with advocates for adolescent health from across the state, especially those who are working with and empowering young people.”

From exploring sexual health curricula for youth with developmental disabilities to designing LBGT+ friendly programs, SHIFT NC is an opportunity for a wide range of health educators and professionals to come together and share their expertise.

Come to the Prevention Central session or exhibit table and say “hi!”

Our presentation- Thursday May 16, 2:00-3:15 B4

Adolescent Sexual Health in the Digital Age: Addressing Consent and Healthy Relationships Using a Media Literacy Education Approach

This workshop will describe the latest research on media and their impact on adolescent sexual health, paying special attention to broader topics like gender roles, rape myths, consent, and healthy relationships. Media literacy education (MLE) represents an engaging, innovative, and accessible way to teach comprehensive sexual education to adolescents. Participants will see MLE in action and learn effective strategies that they can apply to a variety of educational settings. Attendees will engage with each other in an analysis of media messages and a lively breakout activity, including the creation of positive messages (media advocacy).

Prevention Central Shares Media Literacy Education Strategies In Public Webinar

March 18, 2019

Prevention Central –a division of innovation Research & Training—is committed to sharing its groundbreaking research and development work with the prevention field through conducting monthly webinars led by leading scientists in the field. In the first of these webinars, held in February of 2019, Senior Research Scientist Dr. Tracy Scull presented “Analyzing Media:  A Creative Approach to Combating Youth Substance Abuse.” Over the hour-long presentation, Dr. Scull discussed results from the leading research on how media exposure can affect decisions to use alcohol, tobacco, and other substances, as well as how media literacy education can help youth to become more critical thinkers, thereby combating the insidious influence of the media on substance use behaviors. She also responded to questions from participants about the other evidence-based Prevention Central programs that use a media literacy education approach to teaching substance abuse prevention.

“I’m so happy I was able to speak directly to other people interested in youth substance abuse prevention and share this compelling research with them,” said Dr. Scull. “By providing webinars to the field, it helps us build personal connections with people on the front lines across the country who can spread the benefits of media literacy education to their own communities.”

In the coming months, additional iRT scientists will be discussing other prevention approaches and sharing research findings in the Prevention Central webinar series. In the next webinar on March 27, 2019, at 1 p.m., Dr. Alison Parker will speak about the many benefits of mindfulness education for children and adolescents. Dr. Parker has received Federally-funded awards to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of school-based and online mindfulness education programs for youth. Her cutting-edge prevention programs integrate mindfulness practices in creative and developmentally appropriate educational approaches designed to assist young people address the many stressors they experience in modern society in healthy and productive ways.

Each webinar can be accessed for free, and signing up is easy! Simply go to and click “Register Now.”  We’ll save you a seat.

If you would like to receive email updates from us about our projects and upcoming webinar presentations, just click here.

iRT Represents Prevention Central Suite At National Anti-Drug Forum

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Representing a suite of prevention products hosted on the Prevention Central website (, researchers from innovation Research & Training (iRT) attended the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) National Leadership Forum in National Harbor, MD, from February 4th to 7th, 2019.

This Forum brought together thousands of prevention professionals from across the country, all dedicated to learning about relevant research and effective strategies to fight substance abuse. iRT has attended and presented at CADCA’s annual and midyear conferences for years; we’re always excited to meet our peers, who share our commitment to finding innovative solutions to this pressing problem.

At this year’s Forum, we shared the results of our research and development work creating innovative, evidence-based programs using mindfulness, media literacy education, and mentoring programs to prevent substance abuse.

In addition, we were pleased to release our new evidence-based, community-based strategies to combat drugged driving.

Visitors to our exhibit table were excited by iRT’s commitment to creating and disseminating evidence-based programs. In fact, all of iRT’s programs are always research- and practice informed by a team of multidisciplinary professionals, as well as rigorously evaluated. Many visitors to our table mentioned that they needed assistance in finding evidence-based solutions and writing grants for their programs. iRT is happy to help!

At the North Carolina breakout meeting held on Tuesday evening, iRT researchers had the privilege of learning about the wide range of substance abuse prevention strategies being implemented across the state.

“There were many more people from our state there than in previous years,” said Dr. Rebecca Stelter. “Lots of people and organizations in our state are now working in this area.”

In addition to collaborative meetings, CADCA hosts presentations from experts eager to share the results of their work with others. Dr. Wilson Compton, Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), spoke about the ways marijuana use has changed over the years and mentioned several times that marijuana use can impair driving. The resources and training available from Drugged Driving Resources can help communities address many of the concerns raised by Dr. Compton.

To coincide with our presence at CADCA, we also launched a brand-new way to find the prevention program best suited to meet your needs: Prevention Central. A guide to all our prevention programs, this website is designed to help you find exactly what you’re looking for in just a few clicks. The website will also be updated with our webinar schedule, including a look at our substance abuse prevention programs that use a media literacy education approach on February 27, 2019.

Learning about all of iRT’s programs has never been easier.

iRT Study on Community College Sexual Health Published in Journal of American College Health

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Journal of American College Health has published a paper from researchers at iRT on the status of sexual health among community college students.

The paper, “The Understudied Half of Undergraduates,” takes a look at the behaviors, attitudes, and experiences of more than 250 older adolescents attending community colleges from eight different campuses. Despite being considerably more diverse in both race and class than four-year universities, significantly less research has been done on community college populations than on other student groups.

“Community college students are so often forgotten when it comes to health interventions,” says Dr. Tracy Scull, senior author on the article. “University undergraduates at four-year schools are the most studied population, but they can be quite different from other people their own age, such as community college students, who might have different needs.”

Given the lack of health resources, and the limited amount of previous research available, iRT researchers theorized that community college students may be more at-risk for sexually unhealthy behaviors.

And indeed, this survey of hundreds of current students showed just that. Reported rates of rape and attempted rape among this sample of community college students were two to three times as high as average college rates (as reported by the American College Health Association). Experience with physically abusive relationships was also twice as common as typically reported college rates. Among other worrying statistics, many students had never received the HPV vaccine or been tested for an STI.

Given the fact that students who have experienced sexual violence may be more likely to struggle academically and drop out afterwards, more effectively addressing sexual health and behavior could result in benefits across a student’s entire college experience.

While many of the study’s findings sound grim, they also point to the potential impact of providing comprehensive sexual health education programs to this population. Such programs have effectively reduced risky sexual behaviors, helped participants feel more comfortable with conversations about STIs, reduced the negative impact of gender role stereotypes, and empowered bystanders to prevent sexual assault.

Journal of Health Communication Publishes iRT Study

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

iRT is pleased to announce that an evaluation of the Media Aware program has been published in the Journal of Health Communication.

Media Aware: Middle School is a teacher-led program that uses media literacy education to help adolescents learn about a wide range of sexual and relationship health topics. In the published research study, Media Aware was compared to traditional health education lessons across dozens of middle school health classes. In total, well over 800 students were included in the randomized controlled trial.

The study’s results were encouraging for both Media Aware and media literacy education in general. After being taught the Media Aware program, students held greater intentions to communicate about sexual health and to use contraception (if they were to engage in sexual activity) compared to students who did not receive the program. Moreover, the students were less likely to accept dating violence and strict gender roles, and they even demonstrated generally higher levels of media skepticism than their peers who didn’t take the program.

“Using media literacy education as a prevention strategy provides so much promise,” said Dr. Scull, first author on the paper and Senior Research Scientist at iRT. “Youth spend so much of their day interacting with media; helping them to critically examine the media messages they encounter may influence their thinking long after the school-based program is done.”

iRT has developed several evidence-based media literacy education programs for health promotion. Recently, an evaluation of an online sexual health promotion program for young adults (ages 18-24), Media Aware: Young Adult, found that the program resulted in a reduction of risky sexual behaviors in a sample of community college students.  Findings on the efficacy of that program were published in the Journal of American College Health earlier this year.  More information about that program can be found at