Youth-Nex Publications & Funding


Youth-Nex uses a translational approach to scholarship and innovation throughout the body of trans-disciplinary research. A sample of recent published work by Youth-Nex researchers are included here. For more information about research by topic area, please visit our research projects or people pages.

Seed Funding

In addition to the funded research conducted by the center, Youth-Nex also provides seed funding for promising ideas and scholars. To that end, the center institutes a Request for Proposals which emphasizes the need for focus on topics related to positive youth development and reduction of risk. A clear and direct plan for external funding as a result of the seed funding must also be included. Proposals must be innovative in methods, collaboration or approach to youth development.

  • 2018

    See more details about the projects here.

    Press release about funded studies.

    Roots and Wings: Promoting Positive Youth Development and Educational Equity in Charlottesville Middle Schools through Integrated Music Programming
    Emily Morrison & Jessika Bottiani

    The Front Porch is a non-profit roots music school located in downtown Charlottesville whose mission is to make music inclusive, affordable, and accessible to all. Their Roots and Wings program currently delivers songwriting, composition, deep listening, and storytelling components to middle school youth through school-based group workshops and individual lessons. With Youth-Nex seed funding, these components will be introduced into classroom-based English, math, and science instruction through a set of six music arts-integrated academic lesson plans at Community Public Charter School (CPCS). The overarching purpose of this translational research project is to explore the feasibility, acceptability, and sustainability of music arts-integrated core subject instruction as a strategy for promoting positive youth development and educational equity for middle school youth in Charlottesville.

    Engaging Conflict-affected Youth in Thailand’s Deep South for the Promotion of Peace and Wellbeing
    PI: Amanda Nguyen

    Youth in Thailand’s Deep South have grown up in the midst of a protracted armed conflict that has resulted in a highly militarized and economically depressed environment.  While limited data suggests this environment has had serious impacts on the health and wellbeing of these youth, very little is actually known about their strengths and needs. With Youth-Nex seed funding, UVA researchers are partnering with colleagues at the Faculty of Nursing, Prince of Songkla University, to conduct a needs assessment involving participatory research with Buddhist and Muslim Thai youth aged 12 to 18.  Our aim is to better understand the context, aspirations, and assets of youth to build a robust follow-on study involving program design and evaluation. In particular, this needs assessment will inform what type of intervention may be suitable to promote wellbeing in Thai youth, and engage youth in peace making processes to interrupt the intergenerational transmission of violence.

    The Voice Project: Facilitating Youth Voice & Critical Social Analysis Among Black Boys in their Transition to High School
    PIs: Chauncey Smith & Daniel Fairley

    The goal of this study is to examine the school and community experiences of Black boys in Charlottesville. We’ll do this by: (1) centering Black boys’ meaning-making of their experiences in Charlottesville, (2) facilitating their drafts of solutions for their school and community, (3) observing the ways in which schools and community programs interact with Black boys.  The study involves interviews with middle school Black boys, a youth participatory action research program, and interviews with community program facilitators. The hope is that this study will: 1) highlight the diversity and describe shared patterns in narratives about Black boys’ school and community experiences, 2) describe some helpful practices for facilitating youth programs for Black boys, and 3) center Black boys’ voices in the translation of research to practice. 

    Evaluating the Impact of Youth-Police Dialogues on Police: A Seed Funding Proposal for Survey Development
    PIs: Rachel Wahl & Jessika Bottiani

    This project will lead to the development of a new survey measure to assess police officers’ attitudes and behaviors towards youth of color, which will be used to investigate officers’ responses to police-youth dialogue. This measure will be developed in close partnership with the Center for Teen Empowerment, a nonprofit organization that empowers youth-led social change. Teen Empowerment currently facilitates dialogue between youth and police and the measure we develop will support their capacity to assess and build their work as well as lay the groundwork for a larger study of how police and youth respond to dialogue.

  • 2012

    See more details about the projects and results here.

    Press release about funded studies on UVA Today and EHD's website.

    Original RFP.

    Impact of School Architecture on School Practices and Healthy Eating
    Matthew Trowbridge & Terry T-K Huang

    Researchers worked with architects to create a school environment that improves student well-being. Dr. Matthew Trowbridge of U.Va.’s Department of Emergency Medicine and Terry Huang of the University of Nebraska’s College of Public Health evaluated whether innovations such as a teaching kitchen, soil lab and nutrition resource library impacted the eating behaviors of school children at Buckingham Elementary in Dillwyn. The researchers collaborated with VMDO Architects of Charlottesville to develop a set of healthful eating guidelines for school architecture based on public health evidence and theory. The set of specifications call for innovations like kitchens conducive to preparing fresh and organic food; design that encourages relaxation and socialization at meal times; and signage and programming that reinforce nutrition education.

    Promoting Positive Youth Development Through Homegrown Video Production
    Michael J. Kennedy & Dewey G. Cornell

    The PIs aimed to instruct and guide students to produce their own videos on bullying prevention. They hoped to help students at Charlottesville area schools both understand themselves, and understand themselves as agents of change.  Kennedy also he hopes the students will progress in the '5C's' of Positive Youth Development — Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character, and Caring.

    'We hypothesize that if we get that movement toward greater understanding,... in caring competency and the rest of the C’s, it will be captured on video because the medium is so powerful.' Kennedy, an educator and a filmmaker, ultimately also predicts a change in the students' understanding of bullying. 'A more sophisticated video shows deeper understanding of the issue,' he said. “when students make progress in each of the 5 C's, it can result in a 6th C — 'Contribution.'”

    Engaging Students in Environmental Service: Development and Early Phase Research on a Community Service Learning Intervention
    Sara E. Rimm-Kaufman Co-Investigator: Eileen Merritt

    The researchers worked with a group of middle-schoolers at Albemarle County’s Community Public Charter School to tackle a local environmental problem selected by the students. “Many students do not have opportunities to spend time outdoors engaged in solving real-world problems,” said Merritt, whose career has focused on helping connect students with nature. The goal was to increase the children’s interest in science, knowledge of the environment and civic engagement through participation in a community service-learning project.

    Understanding and Supporting Safe Driving of ADHD Teenagers with Auditory Feedback
    Nathan Ka Ching Lau Co-PI: Daniel J. Cox

    A systems engineer and cognitive behavioral therapist combined efforts to design a tool that mitigates driving distraction through a Wii-like device that tracks eye, body, and head movement. Drs. Lau and Cox sought to help adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to drive safely by creating a negative feedback loop that detects driver distraction.

  • 2011

    See more details about the projects and results here.

    Press release about funded studies.

    Original RFP.

    Reducing Risky Behaviors Associated With 21st Birthdays
    PI: Ellen J. Bass Co-PIs: Susan E. Bruce & Erik W. Gunderson

    This research project built on the experience of Student Health’s Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention in developing and evaluating celebratory drinking interventions. The project goal was to increase protective behaviors, and reduce alcohol consumption, estimated blood alcohol concentrations (eBAC), and negative consequences associated with 21st birthday celebrations.

    The Role Executive Function Plays in the Driving-specific Risk Behaviors of Novice Drivers
    PI: Daniel J. Cox Co-Investigators: Ronald E. Reeve, Joseph P. Allen, John Sirard, Richard Warren, & Arthur L. Weltman

    Researchers investigated the impact of cognitive motor function that impairs driving safety, medical self-management, social functioning and quality of life, and the extent to which such impacts can be reversed with specific and specialized rehabilitation using virtual reality driving simulation. A major factor that could successfully differentiate adolescents at low/high risk for unsafe driving (and other practices) could be the delayed development of executive functioning (EF), which may underlie the poor judgment that contributes to collision and impaired driving ability and safety. EF is the ability to employ working memory allowing us to anticipate consequences, inhibit impulses, plan ahead, problem solve, and be creative in our interaction with the world. EF ability also changes over time, demonstrating an inverse curve  with maturation of the prefrontal cortex in adolescence and young adulthood and a subsequent decline with prefrontal atrophy in older age, mirroring driving ability and safety. 

    Languages Across Borders (LAB): Building Positive Cross-Linguistic and Cross-Cultural Networks in High Schools
     Amanda K. Kibler, Allison Atteberry, Christine N. Hardigree, & April S. Salerno

    The Language Across Borders (LAB) pilot project was designed to improve linguistic, academic, and psychosocial outcomes for both Spanish-dominant learners of English and English-dominant learners of Spanish through an extracurricular dual language program. Specifically, it aimed to increase ELLs’ social connections with peers and school while also increasing opportunities for Spanish-dominant and English-dominant students to develop bilingual expertise and positive youth development outcomes through strong school-based relationships.

    Reproductive Health Among Sexual Minority Youth
    Charlotte J. Patterson

    This study assessed reproductive health among sexual minority youth, and to understand risk and protective factors for reproductive health among members of this vulnerable population. This work aimed to create a comprehensive, contemporary profile of sexual and reproductive behavior among sexual minority as compared with heterosexual youth in the United States. In this initial phase, using data from the NSFG, she sought to document sexual and reproductive health difficulties among sexual minority youth.

    A Study of Positive Youth Development Among High School Students
    Joanna Lee Williams

    This study examined whether participation in an inter-group dialogue program during the school year enhances strengths conceptualized in the “positive youth development” paradigm and diversity-related values, and promotes ethnic identity exploration among high school students. This was accomplished by conducting a pilot evaluation of the Youth Roundtables Program at Charlottesville High School (CHS). Youth Roundtables is an after-school program run by staff from the Stillwater Institute for Social Justice. Students participate in an intergroup dialogue process facilitated by the Stillwater staff and then are trained to become IGD facilitators themselves. 

  • 2010

    See more details about the projects and results here.

    Press release about funded studies.

    Supporting Food and Exercise Counseling for Overweight and Obese Children
    Stephanie Guerlain & Martha Hellems

    The study aimed to finalize and evaluate a technical solution to extend the services provided at the University of Virginia (U.Va.) Children’s Fitness Clinic (CFC) via an interactive website that includes health education, health progress and the capability to receive daily text messages from their patients. 

    Improving Nutrition and Exercise Competence in Obese Schoolchildren via SALUD
    Amy Boitnott & Mark DeBoer

    In addition to affecting the health and longevity of the current generation of children, obesity has significant developmental implications for children. The study hypothesized that improvements in childhood overweight/obesity status will be best achieved by targeting the expectancies for success and value toward healthy behaviors of parents and children. The study used a community-based intervention to assess competency for physical activity and nutrition among children in the Southwood Mobile Home Park in the Charlottesville area. 

    Vascular Disease in Adolescent Type 1 Diabetic (DM1) Subjects
    Eugene Barrett

    Life-limiting atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease begins in children with DM 1 as evidenced by several types of pre-atherosclerotic vascular dysfunction. It may be that activity is one protective factor that could make a vital difference. This study examined whether dietary and activity behaviors contribute to the risk for early vascular dysfunction in DM1 and to begin to address whether interventions, which can be lifelong, can prevent or reverse early vascular disease.

    Statutory Rape or ‘Normal’ Teen Love?
    N. Dickon Reppucci

    The production of legal responses to try to protect youth from sexual predators has spawned vexing legal and social issues related to adolescent relationships. In many cases sexual activity between an adolescent and their near same-age partner could result in classification as a sex offender. There is dire need for illumination about the developmental and social issues that affect and are affected by the intersection of youth and sexuality in this legal context. The study sought to address teens’ and young adults’ comprehension and perception of existing laws; to understand parents’ or guardians’ perceptions and knowledge of statutory rape laws; and adolescents’ competence to consent to sex.

    Motivating Youth Through the Humanities
    Andrew D. Kaufman, Julian Connolly, & Roger C. Burket

    The humanities have been slow to respond to growing skepticism in recent decades about their value in post-secondary education. “Books Behind Bars: Life, Literature, and Community Leadership” is an innovative, 12-month-old, format of humanities education that places undergraduates from U.Va. to work through literature training with incarcerated juvenile delinquents. Funds will be used to conduct a pilot study of the Books Behind Bars program and will lay the necessary groundwork for funding applications seeking support for the larger-scale program and its evaluation in the near future.