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RiseUptown: A Comprehensive Community Collaboration to Reduce the Adverse Effects of Poverty on Urban Adolescents

This project will implement and assess the impact of an evidence-based multicomponent program designed to improve educational and mental health outcomes and reduce delinquent and risk-taking behaviors in early adolescents living in neighborhoods characterized by concentrated poverty and high levels of crime and violence. The RISEUP (Resilience Intervention for Social Empowerment in Underserved Places) program integrates a school-embedded youth coping and empowerment intervention (BaSICS) with a community-driven neighborhood crime and blight reduction initiative (CPTED) to synergistically reduce exposure to risk factors, increase protective factors, and reduce unequal youth health, behavior, and education outcomes.

Project Team

· Principal Investigators: Martha Wadsworth, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Penn State-UPark (; Jonathan Lee, Ph.D., Penn State Harrisburg; Julie Walter, Tri-county Community Action, Harrisburg

· Co-Investigators:, Jarl Ahlkvist, Ph.D. (PSU-UPark), Siyu Liu, Penn State Harrisburg

About the Project

· The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) awarded a subcontract to Penn State in the amount of $234,334 to support this project for the period May 2019 – April 2021.

· Testing the efficacy of the RISEUP program in reducing youth crime and violence in Uptown Harrisburg.

· Faculty release time funding was provided by the Justice Center.

Research Questions

· Does collaborative youth-adult RISEUP reduce crime and improve the public spaces where crime takes place in the Camp Curtin neighborhood?

· Does RISEUP improve youth deviancy and mental health outcomes?

· Does RISEUP increase collective efficacy and community cohesion?

Project Details

· Deliver BaSICS portion of RISEUP intervention to two consecutive cohorts of 6th graders at Camp Curtin Academy.

· Conduct CPTED portion of RISEUP with youth involvement from each cohort of youth as well as community members.

· Conduct baseline-pre-post-follow-up assessments via community surveys, youth surveys, and official police and school records.

· Analyze deviation from expected/predicted trajectories on adult and youth violent and non-violent crime, youth mental health and school problems such as truancy, community engagement, and collective efficacy.


· Equip middle school youth with effective skills and practices for coping with poverty-related stress (PRS) and trauma, including both individual and collective approaches.

· Reduction in youth and adult violent crimes and youth-police contacts.

· Engage the community in coordinated social action to identify, redesign, and revitalize public spaces where crime takes place.

· Increase collective efficacy and community cohesion via youth-integrated community social action.