Thriving Adolescents

Adolescence is an important time of change in young peoples’ lives and experiences during this period can have lasting impacts on their future. At the Lab, we’re exploring ways to improve the lives of adolescents in Michigan through partnerships that seek to understand and address the impacts of school discipline, the juvenile justice system, mental health challenges, and more.


The TRAILS (Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students) program provides clinical training to school professionals in evidence-based mental health care approaches such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness, and trains community mental health providers to provide follow-up coaching in their local schools, reinforcing new skills and promoting sustainability. YPL and the TRAILS team conducted a comprehensive student mental health needs assessment for the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) in 2019. Over the next several years, YPL will be evaluating the TRAILS program’s impact on student mental health and academic outcomes as it is rolled out in all 110+ public schools in Detroit, in 56 intermediate school districts spanning all of Michigan’s 83 counties, and in three school districts in the state of Colorado.

School Discipline & Juvenile Justice

This study seeks to examine the educational and criminal justice trajectories of youth who have been arrested as juveniles or young adults. At the broadest level, the goal is to better understand how interaction with the juvenile (criminal) justice system influences educational outcomes and, conversely, how a young person’s success in the educational domain impacts the likelihood he or she will interact with the juvenile justice system.

Project AWARE

As evaluation partners for Project AWARE—a Michigan Department of Education-Michigan Department of Health and Human Services initiative on youth mental health—the Lab is examining a variety of efforts by state and local agency partners to better support students’ healthy development. The Lab is currently working with the Project AWARE team to design and implement a multifaceted assessment of the five-year initiative’s success in increasing mental health awareness, strengthening interagency collaboration, and streamlining service coordination in three participating communities across the state.

Completed Projects

Child and Adolescent Health Centers

Child and Adolescent Health Centers

In support of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Lab investigated the academic impacts of school-based health centers across the state using both school and student level data. Our analysis looked at academic markers like attendance and test scores at students with health centers in comparison to those at similar schools nearby. Findings may lead to more investigations around usage patterns or community outcomes.