[ST. PAUL, MN] – Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan today announced that the State of Minnesota was awarded a $2.5 million grant to implement a groundbreaking, evidence-based social-emotional learning curriculum in middle schools across the state.
The grant, awarded by Arnold Ventures, will allow as many as 40 middle schools to offer the LifeSkills Training program. Based on more than 35 years of rigorous scientific research, the LifeSkills curriculum includes skills in resisting peer and media pressure to smoke, drink, or use drugs while also informing students of the consequences of substance abuse.
“We see every day the impact of substance use on Minnesota, and on our young. Too many deaths, too many damaged lives—we need to invest in evidence-based policies that have strong record of success,” said Governor Walz. “This grant from Arnold Ventures will help provide schools with a powerful tool to promote prevention and positive, long-term health of our kids.”
The LifeSkills curriculum is proven effective at helping reduce rates of anxiety, depression and physical aggression, and prevent substance abuse. Researchers at the University of Iowa and Cornell University found that high school seniors who participated in the LifeSkills Training program while in middle school were 20 percent less likely to smoke and 10 to 15 percent less likely to misuse alcohol or illicit drugs.
Results First, a unit of Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB), views this grant as part of its effort to identify and implement cost-effective evidence-based practice. The team also expands MMB’s capacity to use science to help policymakers understand the degree to which other services are achieving their intended results. The 2020-21 biennial budget includes $87 million for services across seven state agencies that Results First found evidence of effectiveness.
“Prevention is a smart investment,” said Myron Frans, commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget. “We are driven to support Minnesota by identifying programs that work and are cost-effective, such as LifeSkills Training. We owe it to all Minnesotans, especially those most impacted by substance use.”
The Minnesota Department of Human Services and Minnesota Management and Budget will partner to administer the grant. “This is an example of government collaborating and using proven methods to make a difference in the lives of Minnesota students,” said Acting Commissioner Pam Wheelock of the Minnesota Department of Human Services. “We are excited about this partnership and look forward to seeing real results.”
Public, private and nonprofit middle schools are eligible for training, materials, and technical assistance to implement the curriculum for three years. They will work with an independent evaluator to measure the impact of the program and evaluate its effectiveness. For more information and application, visit https://mn.gov/mmb/mmb/behavioral-wellness/. Selected schools will start the curriculum in Fall 2020.