Category Archives: Youth development

Aug 15 2014

Mentoring to Build a Culture of Health

Adefemi Betiku was a junior at Rutgers University when he noticed that he wasn’t like the other students.

During a physics class, he raised his hand to answer a question. “Something told me to look around the lab,” he remembers. “When I did, I realized that I was the only black male in the room.”

In fact, he was one of the few black men in his entire junior class of 300.

“There’s a huge problem with black males getting into higher education,” says Betiku, currently a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) student at New York University (NYU). “That has a lot to do not just with being marginalized but with how black men perceive themselves and their role in society.”

U.S. Department of Education statistics show that black men represent 7.9 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds in America but only 2.8 percent of undergraduates at public flagship universities. According to the Pew Research Center, 69 percent of black female high school graduates in 2012 enrolled in college by October of that year. For black male high school graduates, the college participation rate was 57 percent—a gap of 12 percent.

Betiku’s interest in the issues black men face, especially in education, deepened at Project L/EARN, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded initiative with the goal of increasing the number of students from underrepresented groups in the fields of health, mental health and health policy research.

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Apr 8 2014

Preventing Youth Violence May Cost Less Than You Think…

Adam L. Sharp, MD, MS is an emergency physician and recent University of Michigan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar (2011-2013). He works for Kaiser Permanente Southern California in the Research and Evaluation Department performing acute care health services and implementation research.


Violence is a leading cause of death and injury in adolescents. Recent studies show effective interventions can prevent violent behavior in youth seen in the Emergency Department (ED). Adoption of this type of preventive care has not been broadly implemented in EDs, however, and cost concerns frequently create barriers to utilization of these types of best practices. Understanding the costs associated with preventive services will allow for wise stewardship over limited health care resources. In a recent publication in Pediatrics, "Cost Analysis of Youth Violence Prevention," colleagues and I predict that it costs just $17.06 to prevent an incident of youth violence.

The violence prevention intervention is a computer-assisted program using motivational interviewing techniques delivered by a trained social worker. The intervention takes about 30 minutes to perform and was evaluated within an urban ED for youth who screened positive for past year violence and alcohol abuse. The outcomes assessed were violence consequences (i.e., trouble at school because of fighting, family/friends suggested you stop fighting, arguments with family/friends because of fighting, felt cannot control fighting, trouble getting along with family/friends because of your fighting), peer victimization (i.e., hit or punched by someone, had a knife/gun used against them), and severe peer aggression (i.e., hit or punched someone, used a knife/gun against someone).

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Jul 12 2012

Human Capital News Roundup: The adolescent brain, gang audits, cancer treatment resistance, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows and grantees. Some recent examples: reports on, a website recently launched by the New Jersey Nursing Initiative, a program of the RWJF and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation. The site provides important resources and information about what a career as nurse faculty involves and the path to that career. It includes information on what to expect as a nurse faculty member, and the education and skills necessary to pursue that career path, as well as profiles of current nurse faculty and a list of nursing programs in each county in the state. Learn more about

A review of medical and legal literature led by RWJF Executive Nurse Fellow Ruth Carrico, PhD, RN, finds no statistical likelihood that “people might faint behind the wheel after receiving influenza vaccinations at drive-thru clinics,” United Press International reports. In fact, Carrico says, the chances of that happening are less than the probability of being struck by lightning. Read more at Infection Control Today and Medical XPress.

Gary A. Taubes, MSE, MS, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times on “What Really Makes Us Fat,” in response to a study that finds patients on a low-carb diet kept weight off longer than those on a low-fat diet. He was also a guest on NPR to discuss the issue further. Taubes is the recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. Read more about his research.

RWJF Health & Society Scholar Andrew Papachristos, PhD, writes on the Huffington Post about “gang audits”—surveys of a neighborhood’s gang landscape—and how they’re being used to reduce violence in Chicago.

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