a life on track

As of [this week], I will be clean for 4 months! RY helped me to be where I am today. I have got my mom and dad’s respect back. RY is a very good program.


RY Student, Cherokee, NC

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RY Program

The RY program goals:

  • Increased school performance
  • Decreased drug involvement
  • Decreased emotional distress

RY Program Structure:
1. The RY curriculum

There are 75 lessons in the RY curriculum. It is typically offered as a semester-long, for-credit class by a teacher/facilitator who works well with youth at risk and who is trained to implement the RY program.

  1. Getting Started
  2. Self-esteem Enhancement
  3. Decision Making
  4. Personal Control
  5. Interpersonal Communication

2. Social and School Bonding Activities
An important component of the RY Program is increasing RY student involvement in healthy social activities and engaging them in activities that increase bonding to their school. The curriculum describes a variety of ways this can be done.

3. School Crisis Response Plan
A School Crisis Response Plan is the third component of the RY Program. Such a plan is necessary because many high-risk youth experience depression and suicide-risk behaviors. The RY School Crisis Response Plan prepares school staff members 1) to identify and respond to students who are suicidal and 2) to respond, if necessary, with post-suicide intervention strategies.

RY Students:
An RY Class is made up of 10 – 12 students who are INVITED to participate and who meet the following criteria:

  • behind in credits for their grade level and
  • in the top 25th percentile for absences and
  • a GPA of less than 2.3 or a precipitous drop in grades, OR
  • a prior dropout status, or
  • are referred by school personnel & meet 1 or more of the first three criteria

RY is an evidenced-based program:
When tested with potential high school dropouts, RY had significant effects:

  • 35% reduction in dropout rates
  • 50% reduction in hard drug use
  • 75% reduction in depression/hopelessness
  • 80% reduction in suicidal behaviors
  • 18% increase in GPA for all classes (excluding RY)
  • 7.5% increase in credits earned per semester

See Research for more details.

Recognized for excellence by:

Additional recognition for RY:
Selected by the U.S. Department of Education (2002 and, again, in 2005) as one of the SAMHSA model programs that DOE would fund through their grant application process.

Honored in May 2000 as a model program for the 1999 Exemplary Substance Abuse Prevention Awards presented at the U.S. Congress. Co-sponsored by Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, the National Prevention Network, and the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, Washington, DC.

Selection in Drug Strategies’ (1999) publication, Making the Grade: A Guide to School Drug Prevention Programs, as the only research-based high school drug prevention program in the US to receive an “A” grade.

Recommendation by the U. S. Department of Education through the Safe and Drug Free Schools Program as successful in preventing drug use and violent behavior among youth (1998).

Where to go from here: