Midwestern Prevention Project


The Midwestern Prevention Project (MPP), also known as Project STAR, is a comprehensive, school-centered, and community-based program for sixth- to eighth-grade students that includes a classroom curriculum, parent education, community organizing, policy development, and media advocacy. Components are introduced sequentially over the span of five years.


  • To promote drug resistance skills among youth
  • To change family and school norms that support alcohol and other drug use
  • To limit social and commercial availability of alcohol to underage youth

Typical Elements

  • In the first year, a classroom curriculum for sixth- and seventh-grade students that teaches drug and alcohol resistance skills through interactive methods such as discussions, role-playing, and parent-child homework activities. Activities to support the first year can include (Pentz et al., 1989):
    • Building partnerships with school staff and administrators
    • Training staff on predictors and rates of alcohol use among youth
    • Demonstrating MPP classroom sessions
    • Selecting and preparing peer leaders to assist in program activities
    • Conducting monthly phone calls with teachers to support implementation of classroom sessions
      • Note:  There are booster sessions to these same students when they are in grades 7 and 8.
  • In the second year, a parent component (Riggs, Elfenbaum & Pentz, 2006).  Activities can include:
    • Working with the school-parent liaison, involved parents, or school staff to create a parent-school committee dedicated to prevention efforts in the school
    • Training  participating parents on how to develop their committee, identify key alcohol and substance use issues in their school, and plan and implement prevention activities
    • Providing parent skills trainings twice a year that teach parents throughout the school how to support their children’s drug-free behaviors (e.g., promoting positive parent-child communication, developing effective family rules and expectations)
  • In the third year, a community organizing component. Trained community leaders establish prevention activities to complement the other program components (i.e., student, parent, policy, and mass media).
  • In the fourth and fifth years, a policy component (optional). Local community and judicial leaders to develop local ordinances aimed at restricting students’ access to alcohol. See Limits on Location of Outlets and Minimum Age of Alcohol Purchased, Sale, and Server Laws.
  • A media component—beginning in year one and continuing throughout all five years). This component can use television, radio, and other media to promote and support all program efforts. For example, the original MPP delivered 31 television, radio, or print messages per year highlighting the program’s prevention efforts. Activities can include (Pentz et al., 1989):


  • Middle and junior high school students
  • Parents
  • School administrators
  • Local government
  • Other community members


Compared to control group participants, MPP participants demonstrated greater:

  • Decreases in rates of alcohol use with lower rates holding one and a half (Chou et al., 1998) and two years post-implementation (MacKinnon et al., 1991; Pentz et al., 1989)
  • Decreases in beliefs about the positive effects of alcohol use (MacKinnon et al., 1991)
  • Decreases in peer support for substance use (MacKinnon et al., 1991)
  • Increases in parental perceptions of influence over child’s substance use following parent-school committee involvement and parental involvement in parent-child homework activities (Riggs et al., 2006)


RAND Corporation: Promising Practices Network


Athena Forum: Excellence in Prevention

National Institute of Justice: Crime Solutions

RAND Corporation: Promising Practices Network


Chou, C. P., Montgomery, S., Pentz, M. A., Rohrback, L. A., Johnson, C. A., Flay, B. R., & MacKinnon, D. P.  (1998). Effects of a community-based prevention program on decreasing drug use in high-risk adolescents. American Journal of Public Health, 88(6), 944–948.

MacKinnon, D. P., Johnson, C. A., Pentz, M. A., Dwyer, J. H., Hansen, W. B., Flay, B. R., & Wang, E. (1991). Mediating mechanisms in a school-based drug prevention program: First-year effects of the Midwestern Prevention Project. Health Psychology, 10(3), 164–172. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.10.3.164

Pentz, M. A., Dwyer, J. H., MacKinnon, D. P., Flay, B. R., Hansen, W. B., Yu, E. I., & Johnson, A. C.  (1989). A multicommunity trial for primary prevention of adolescent drug abuse: Effects on drug use prevalence. Journal of the American Medical Association, 261(22), 3259–3266.

Riggs, N. R., Elfenbaum, P., & Pentz, M. A. (2006). Parent program component analysis in a drug abuse prevention trial. Journal of Adolescent Health, 39(1), 66–72. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2005.09.013