Service Learning Projects

A unique feature of the Institute is a team mentoring approach to completing service learning projects. Community partners and academic mentors work together to guide scholars in the latest science of alcohol and drug abuse prevention, intervention and sustainability with an added emphasis on translational issues of evidence-based practices (EBPs).

Abstracts describing the service learning projects and project presentations completed to date are below:


Vinita Sharma, Christine Rollins, Ashley Walker, Donna Burton, PhD (academic mentor), Richard Brown (community partner), Carali McLean (community partner).

Getting Ready for Tomorrow: A Mixed Methods Evaluation of Organizational Readiness towards Implementation of Evidence-based Practice.

To help facilitate transition of evidence based practice (EBP) to agency adoption is through assessing organizational readiness. Online, quantitative survey among staff members coupled with in-depth interviews with key personnel were carried out at Agency for Community Treatment Services (ACTS) in Tampa. The evaluation examined factors that helped/hindered implementation of EBP to identify areas that could be improved to better-facilitate implementation of evidence-based practices in the agency. The presentation can be found here.


Alexandra Albizu-Rivera, Mathew Lynch, Nichole Snyder, Sara Wolicki, Kathleen Moore, PhD (Academic Mentor), Ed Monti (Community Partner), Tracey Kaly (Community Partner).

Implementation of Three Evidence-based Practices Across Two Levels of Care

This symposium discusses three components of a study conducted to examine the implementation of three evidence-based practices targeting adolescent substance abuse across two levels of care within a local behavioral health care agency. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were employed to examine the implementation drivers and fidelity across programs. Components presented will: 1) provide an overview of the programs; 2) discuss methodologies employed and data findings; and 3) deliver recommendations and lessons learned. The presentation can be found here.

2014 - 2015

Jessica Koelsch, Bailey Thompson, Jessica E. Vazquez, Kathleen Moore, PhD (Academic Mentor), Ed Monti (Community Partner), Tracey Kaly (Community Partner).

Youth Services Integration: Evaluation of a Children’s Behavioral Health and Primary Care Integration Program

The integration of behavioral health services within primary care is crucial given the alarming rate of adolescents in need of mental health services who are not receiving any. Approaches to behavioral health and primary care integration have been developed and primarily evaluated in adult settings. The purpose of this study is to evaluate an integration care program providing children and adolescents with on-site mental health counseling services in a pediatric primary care setting. The presentation can be found here.


Shivani Gogna, Carolyn Taylor, Andrew McFarlane, Dinorah Martinez Tyson, PhD (Academic Mentor), Mary Lynn Ulrey (Community Partner).

Facilitators and Barriers to Guardian Engagement in Adolescent Drug Use Outpatient and Prevention Programs

Adolescents are an at-risk group for drug use and abuse. Evidence-Based Programs (EBPs) exist which focus on parental engagement and strong family partnerships to help ensure the success of drug prevention and rehabilitation programs for adolescents, including minimizing the risk for post-treatment relapse. This study explored perceptions of facilitators and barriers to parental engagement in programs within a local community agency, the Drug Abuse Comprehensive Coordinating Office. The presentation can be found here.


Jennifer A. Shepherd, Maria Von Zuben, Heather Walders, Svetlana Yampolskaya, PhD (Academic Mentor), Andrew McFarlane (Community Partner).

Prevention of Opioid Addiction: Using Perspective to Shape the Future

Experiences of individuals addicted to opioids are used to develop prevention education programs and develop meaningful interventions and treatments in addiction. The projects goal is to retrospectively identify key factors in individuals’ history, experiences, and exposures to drugs. This data will provide information on the targeted features of preventions, treatments, and interventions for the specific population, as well as assist in developing focused curriculum and behavioral health programs for school-aged youth and emerging adults. The presentation can be found here.


Chanelle Henderson, Kristina Soderstrom, Mary Armstong, PhD (Academic Mentor), Marti Coulter, DrPH (Academic Mentor), Kathleen Cowan (Community Partner).

Identifying Barriers to Reunification in the Child Welfare System

Semi-structured interviews capture parental perspectives following a “failed reunification” with their child in the child welfare system. A “failed reunification” describes any event where a child has been removed from a parent, has been reunified with their parent, and has been removed again. Investigators identify factors inhibiting reunification with the following intentions: a) foster dialogue between families and system providers; b) identify barriers to permanency; and c) disseminate targeted evidence- based interventions to eradicate barriers. The presentation can be found here.


Elizabeth Dunn-Gader, Mariana Stavig, Tom Massey, PhD (academic mentor), Kimberly Williams (community partner), Lisa Rose (community partner).

Framing Frameworks: A Qualitative Evaluation of Teens in Action with Implications for Diverse Dissemination

This study evaluates the curriculum, implementation process and sociocultural context of Frameworks of Tampa Bay’s unique Teens in Action (TIA) Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) program. Employing a qualitative methods approach, we identify the key elements of effective implementation and to what extent this foundation informs the anticipated path to evidence based consideration. In addressing potential avenues for exportability, we discuss the influence of socio-cultural/economic context in implementation science, sharing implications valuable to diverse dissemination. The presentation can be found here.


Monica Chambers, Gina-Maria Roca, Lana Yampolskaya, PhD (academic mentor), Rhonda Rhodes (community partner).

Early Implementation Study: Hillsborough County Children’s Services

Hillsborough County Children’s Services Division (n.d.) strives “…to be recognized as the nationally acclaimed premier provider of comprehensive, innovative, and efficient services for Hillsborough County’s youth and families.” To achieve their vision, Children’s Services implemented three evidence-based programs: Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Seeking Safety, and Brief and Strategic Family Therapy (Hillsborough County Children’s Services, n.d.). Our research evaluates constructs of organizational readiness for change, perceived barriers to change, and beliefs about future sustainability of the implemented interventions. The presentation can be found here.


Humberto López Castillo, MD, Catherine Randall, Tommi Rivers, Tiina Ojanen, PhD (Academic Mentor), Ken Gaughan, PhD (Community Partner).

Placing Evidence-based Interventions at the Fingertips of School Social Workers

This session shared the experiences of a collaborative partnership between the Hillsborough County School (HCS) District and the Institute for Translational Research in Adolescent Behavioral Health at the University of South Florida (USF). Institute Scholars worked in close partnership with the HCS school social worker supervisor and advisors to create a searchable online database known as eBIT (Evidence-based Intervention Toolkit). Actively translating research to practice, eBIT enables school social workers to search for an intervention with a problem- or student-specific evidence base. The presentation can be found here.


Kristen McCallum, Flossie E. Parsley, Sharlene Smith, Kathleen Armstrong, PhD (Academic Mentor), Ken Gaughan, PhD (Community Partner).

Evaluation of Interventions Utilized in IEP Counseling in the Hillsborough School District

Published research regarding interventions used in Individual Education Plan (IEP) counseling is limited. This qualitative study uses a focus group methodology to gain perspectives of individuals directly involved with intervention delivery within the school system. Specific aims include determining what specific interventions are used, how outcomes are measured, and what barriers exist in effective service delivery. Results of the study will be disseminated to the school system and individual service providers. The presentation can be found here.


Vicki Lynn, Kimberly Menendez, Monica Solomon, Rita Debate, PhD (Academic Mentor), Charles Mendez III (Community Partner).

Strengthening Adolescent Outcomes: Enhancing Adoption and Implementation of ‘Too Good’ Prevention Programs using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR)

Despite the effectiveness of evidence-based programs (EBPs), reported low levels of implementation in real-world settings are a growing concern. The Consolidate Framework for Implementation (CFIR) is a theoretical framework used to evaluate program adoption and implementation processes. The purpose of this study was to apply the CFIR to examine factors that affect adoption and implementation of Too Good prevention programs, enhance these processes for facilitators, and inform implementation science of more effective implementation strategies. The presentation can be found here.


Shawna Green, Lauren Nieder, Ashley Souza, Tiina Ojanen, PhD (Academic Mentor), Kimberly Menendez (Community Partners), Charles Mendez III (Community Partner).

Evaluating the Adaptation of Evidence-Based Prevention Interventions in Real-World Settings

The use of evidence-based programs as preventative interventions has become a popular trend in adolescent settings. With the increased use of the evidence-based prevention interventions, fidelity to the model must be examined and understood, particularly in the face of adaptations. The purpose of this research is to investigate the fidelity of the implementation process and to identify the adaptations conducted within the Too Good prevention interventions. The presentation can be found here.


Shalay Jackson, Sarah Gonzalez, Kathy Moore, PhD (academic mentor), Kim Menendez (community partner).

Adapting a Universal Prevention Program to Fit the Multi-tiered System of Support Framework Utilized in Schools

Our team gathered information regarding the implementation processes associated with the use of the Mendez Foundation’s Too Good programs in a multi-tiered system. The goal is to provide Mendez clients with valuable information about the processes and procedures essential to adapting the universal programs to meet the needs of students receiving Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions. Our research team will provide a formative evaluation to describe the strengths and challenges associated with this process. The presentation can be found here.


Ericka Duncan, Aldenise Ewing, Tom Massey, PhD (academic mentor), David Chamberlin (community partner).

Assessment of Suicide Prevention Knowledge and Awareness among Student Support Programs and Services Staff and School Administrators at Pasco County Schools

This study sought to assess the level of training, knowledge and awareness for suicide prevention and postvention amongst Pasco County School administrators and Office for Student Support Programs and Services (OSSPS) staff. The OSSPS is a first line of contact for many youth facing mental and behavioral challenges. Considering that suicide is the third leading cause of death amongst adolescents, equipping school service staff for with knowledge and awareness for early intervention is imperative. The presentation can be found here.


Melody Chavez, Bruce Levin, DrPh (academic mentor), Tom Massey, PhD (academic mentor), Emery Ivery (community partner).

A Pilot of a Behavioral Assessment Scale in Early Learning Literacy in Youth in United Way Suncoast ReadingPals Program

Early exposure to reading and writing can help create school readiness and assist in building a foundation for educational success. Research shows that children who are living in poverty are three times more likely to drop out of school. Early learning literacy programs are designed to help children achieve future success. In order to achieve this, evaluation methods need to be able to measure effectiveness of the program on changes in children’s attitudes around reading. The presentation can be found here.