Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) San Diego, a non-profit organization that provides services and partnerships to address comprehensive needs of youth, adults, and families, was awarded a 5-year, Safeguard San Diego Partnership for Success grant through the Center for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service (SAMHSA) in August 2020. SAY San Diego serves a breadth of key service areas including before and after school programs, partnerships to address needs of military and refugee/immigrant families, foster care support, juvenile delinquency prevention, mental health counseling for children and adults, and substance abuse prevention. SAY San Diego’s Safeguard San Diego Partnership for Success will be targeting communities in Southeast San Diego, a community located in the San Diego Promise Zone, one of 22 federally designated Promise Zones in the United States, where federal government partners work with local leaders and organizations to increase and leverage resources and bring comprehensive support to the area. SAY will develop and implement a community engagement project aimed at reducing adolescent alcohol and marijuana use through evidence-based practices. The program aims to train parents in evidence-based substance abuse prevention practices, who will then train clusters of community stakeholders (e.g., peers, parents, and business owners). The five-year plans include performing community needs assessments and coalition building in year 1, developing an action plan in year 2, implementing the program and conducting evaluation or program success in years 3 and 4, and implementing a sustainability plan in year 5.
The Institute of Public Health’s Lisa Asmus, MPH, is the principal investigator (PI) of a contract to provide evaluation services for SAY San Diego’s Safeguard San Diego Partnership for Success. Asmus stated that although the Safeguard San Diego Partnership for Success is in its first year, evaluation is an important ongoing process throughout the entire program. Currently, Asmus is working to develop questions for key informant interviews and needs assessment online surveys in English and Spanish for both children and adults. Through collecting this early data, SAY San Diego and the target community can evaluate the appropriateness of the intervention prior to implementation. Asmus will continue to develop, collect, and organize data to create annual reports to SAMHSA through the 5-year grant period. Asmus believes that as an external evaluator, she brings both expertise in data collection and an impartial lens to the data evaluation process. This complementary role is beneficial to SAY San Diego so it may focus on direct-practice and program implementation throughout the grant cycle. Asmus is an SDSU alumna of the MPH in Epidemiology and has been working for the Institute of Public Health since 1997.