I've written before about the focus funders are putting on model programs. RWJF has a longstanding reputation for funding innovation, so I was surprised to receive their email announcing an RFP that will fund eight New Jersey agencies/schools to implement a particular model program -- Safe Dates.
These will be hefty awards -- $250,000 to $400,000 per organization over three years. RWJF clearly takes this issue seriously and is leaving no choice of model curriculum to the applicants.
How do your clients or the program staff you work with feel about funders dictating the curriculum you will use? Seems to me to have some inherent problems, especially if they turn the spotlight on fidelity of implementation.
I'm all for research to determine the impact of our programs. We need to know that our investment will have a high probability of positive outcomes. But, is there a balance somewhere that allows for choice based on the target population, the talents of the staff, and the context within which the program will be offered?
And, where will the resources to develop new curricula come from?
If this is the direction that funders are going in, you service providers better get busy evaluating model programs in your area of expertise and making your voices heard. Don't let this be a one-sided discussion. What do you think?
Here's a bit about Safe Dates:
Hazelden: Product Details: "Does your school's health, family life, or violence prevention curriculum address dating abuse? Given the fact that up to 38% of high school students report having been a victim of dating violence,* this is a critical issue to address in any comprehensive middle or high school violence prevention program. As the only research-based curriculum of its kind, Safe Dates helps young people recognize the difference between healthy, caring, and supportive relationships, and controlling, manipulative, and abusive dating relationships.
Highly engaging and interactive, Safe Dates gets young people thinking about:
Safe Dates, proven to be effective with both boys and girls, addresses perpetrators of violence as well as victims. It works as both a prevention and intervention tool, with case studies and activities that are relevant for teens who have not started dating as well"
- how they want to be treated by a dating partner
- how they want to treat a girlfriend or boyfriend
- what abusive dating relationships look like
- why dating abuse happens and its causes and consequences
- how to tell if they are in an abusive relationship
- what to do about feelings of anger and jealousy
- how to help a friend who might be in an abusive relationship