A Federally Funded Project: Adolescent Research

RTI and spark
Anita McGinty
Jeanne Catherine
Nici Butchart

Anita McGinty, PhD & Jeanne Catherine & Nici Butchart

March 8, 2023

Anita is the co-founder and CEO of Innate Health Research, a psychologist and academic leader in education.Jeanne is the co-founder, COO, and lead scientist of Innate Health ResearchNici is Managing Director of Innate Health Research as well as a researcher, practitioner, and wellbeing specialist.

In the U.S., there is upwards of 2.7 million children and adolescents living with severe major depression and 60% of these youth do not have access to services. The focus on students’ social-emotional learning within the school environment recognizes the intrinsic relationship between a child’s mental health and their academic and cognitive development. The SPARK mentoring program is the only innate health program for U.S. students that has gained national attention and federal funding. This project is a large-scale, longitudinal evaluation of the SPARK program within U.S. middle schools.

Project Team

Innate Health Research teamed up with SPARK and the Research Triangle Institute (RTI), in the summer of 2022 to pursue the Education, Innovation, and Research grant competition of the U.S. Department of Education. Having been one of just over 20 funded projects, this five-year study will begin piloting in schools during the 2023-2024 school year.

Our Process

Each organization plays a role in delivering this gold-standard research project. SPARK provides the intervention reaching thousands of middle school students. RTI leads the implementation and evaluation and Innate Health Research offers thought leadership and leads the dissemination and stakeholder data engagement processes. Innate Health Research is operating in its sweet spot on this partnership - translating research data and programming into digestible forms, organizing a research agenda around the logic model, and communicating impact to inform future programming.

Our Impact

This 5-year randomized control trial of innate health curricula is the first to occur on a national scale. Potentially, this study could grow the evidence base for innate health interventions and social-emotional learning for adolescents. If successful, it has the potential to catalyze access to innate health programming in schools by bringing innate health to the attention of decision-makers at the federal level. As Innate Health Research has a particular interest in growing the conversation around innate health, we are delighted to be collaborating on this high-caliber project with tremendous potential.

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