Project Combine is a multi-site national project funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), and a partnership between the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and Chestnut Health Systems. Funded in fall 2012, this three-year project uses evidence-based mentoring and substance abuse treatment for at-risk, justice-involved youth and their families at sites in Arizona, Colorado, Virginia, and Washington.

The primary goals are to (1) implement the Aftercare for Indiana through Mentoring (AIM) model in four new states and enhance it by training mentors in selected skills used in the Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA), an evidence-based substance use treatment; and (2) provide parents/caregivers with A-CRA sessions targeted to their needs and mentoring support to improve their children?s outcomes. These goals will result in the reduction of juvenile delinquency and help youth abstain from substance use that usually leads to poor academic performance, drop-out, and a greater likelihood of involvement in more serious crimes. Sites will recruit, train, and supervise mentors; enroll up to 380 youth and match them with mentors; provide and supervise A-CRA treatment by certified clinicians; and collect performance, impact, and outcome measures.

Findings will be used to understand how evidence-based mentoring and substance abuse treatment relationships may reduce involvement with justice-involved youth who use substances and to share that knowledge with other jurisdictions and programs.

Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA)

The Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA) is a developmentally-appropriate behavioral treatment for youth and young adults 12 to 24 years old with substance use disorders. A-CRA seeks to increase the family, social, and educational/vocational reinforcers to support recovery. This intervention has been implemented in outpatient, intensive outpatient, and residential treatment settings. A-CRA includes guidelines for three types of sessions: individuals alone, parents/caregivers alone, and individuals and parents/caregivers together. According to the individual?s needs and self-assessment of happiness in multiple life areas, clinicians choose from a variety of A-CRA procedures that address, for example, problem-solving skills to cope with day-to-day stressors, communication skills, and active participation in positive social and recreational activities with the goal of improving life satisfaction and eliminating alcohol and substance use problems. Practicing new skills during sessions is a critical component of the skills training used in A-CRA. Every session ends with a mutually-agreed-upon homework assignment to practice skills learned during sessions. Often these homework assignments include participation in pro-social activities. Likewise, each session begins with a review of the homework assignment from the previous session. A-CRA has been implemented by more than 100 organizations in the United States and in several other countries. Please visit this page for more information about A-CRA.

Aftercare for Indiana through Mentoring (AIM) 

Aftercare for Indiana through Mentoring (AIM) is an evidence-based mentoring program that works with at-risk youth involved in all phases of the juvenile justice system, including foster care youth. AIM also operates the AIM juvenile reentry program which works with youth involved in the juvenile correctional facilities. In AIM, a focus on life skills means that mentors are encouraged to teach youth how to identify and engage community resources and service providers that can assist them in their transition. Youth who actively work with mentors to achieve goals they set together on the reentry plans are more likely to pursue successful and productive futures (Jarjoura, 2009). Participation in AIM has been found to enhance the effectiveness of comprehensive treatment programs within the juvenile correctional system and is particularly effective for those youth classified as high-risk.

Project Sites

Four sites were chosen to participate in this national project: Pima Prevention Partnership in Tucson, AZ, Denver Juvenile Probation/TASC in Denver, CO, Horizon Behavioral Health in Lynchburg, VA, and Clark County Superior Court/Lifeline Connections in Vancouver, WA. These sites were chosen for their experience and successful implementation of evidence-based treatments, particularly A-CRA. For more information about each site, contact the Mentor Coordinators:

Tucson, AZ - Pima Prevention Partnership
Eric Rhodes

Denver, CO - Denver Juvenile Probation/TASC
Michelle Kuecker

Lynchburg, VA - Horizon Behavioral Health
Adedamola Onafowokan

Vancouver, WA - Clark County Superior Court/Lifeline Connections
Jimi Evans


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Contact Us

For further assistance, please contact Lora Passetti, Research Projects Manager, at; Lighthouse Institute, Chestnut Health Systems, 448 Wylie Drive, Normal, IL 61761; phone: 309.451.7804; fax: 309.451.7761.