Jane Powers
Jane Powers
Senior Extension Associate, ACT for Youth Center for Community Action
Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research

Caldwell Hall Room 294B




Jane Powers, Ph.D. is a researcher based at Cornell University's Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. She is Project Director for Assets Coming Together (ACT) for Youth Center for Community Action which connects youth development research to practice, provides training and technical support, evaluation assistance, and resources to communities and youth serving programs across New York State.  Her research expertise includes positive youth development, child abuse and neglect, youth homelessness, violence prevention and program evaluation. She has directed a long-term study using participatory research methods that engages homeless youth as research partners to study the scope and nature of youth homelessness. She is interested in the application of knowledge to practice, and in translating research to improve environments for children, youth and families. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University in 1985.

My current research activities include:

1)  One of my major research efforts involves evaluating the implementation of evidence based programs (EBPs) for adolescent sexual health as part of the Comprehensive Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention  (CAPP) and Personal Responsibliity Education Program (PREP) initiatives.   Much of the work has involved monitoring fidelity and quality of program implementationand, as well as adaptation.  We have developed a comprehensive evaluation data management system that feeds evaluation data to our funder,  the NYS Department of Health, the grantees, and the ACT for Youth Training team for quality improvement purposes and technical assistance. We have been documenting the adaptation of the EBPs among special sectors of the adolescent population (e.g., foster care, runaway and homeless, LGBTQ youth).  Our most recent work has involved the development of tools to evaluate quality of EBP implementation.  We have developed and have been using an observational tool and process to provide feedback to educators and CAPP facilitators with the aim of strengthening programming and implementation. We also collect outcome data using pre and post test data which assess changes in attitudes and behavioral intent.  We have launched a new system to collect these data electronically what has facilitated rapid feedback cycles.  

2) In collaboration with the NYS Department of Health, we are one of 5 national awardees of a CDC grant to build the evidence base for sexual violence prevention.  We are testing the efficacy of a strengths-based curriculum to reduce risk for future sexual violence perpetration among middle school boys.  We are implementing the Council for Boys and Young Men in after school settings in Buffalo, Albany, and Oxford over the next 4 years.  

3) We continue to work with expectant and parenting teens and young adults through our Pathways to Success Initiative. In this second round of funding, we have been working in NYC with 3 community colleges (Hostos in the Bronx, La Guardia in Queens, and Manhatta, throughout all 5 boroughs), and Public Health Solutionsto improve outcomes for teen parents.  We have developed an Asset and Risk Assessment tool that is being used at intake to facilitate referalls and services for parenting students helping them stay in school and achieve positive social, health, and economic outcomes.  We recently created an on-line system to collect these data, and to also generate quarterly reports. 

4)  We continue to conduct research for the NYSDOH on topics pertaining to adolescent health that inform statewide policies and initiatives. We are currently conducting a major project that involves data collection from youth through surveys, focus groups, and key informant interviews with health educators.  This "Adolescent Health Research Project" is exploring the following topics: Where do young people get reproductive health care? What are their concerns about confidentiality in health care settings? What are their attitudes about youth sexual relationships: How do patterns of youth sexual acitivity influence youth perception of STD/Pregnancy risk and the need for contraception? What explanations do young people and reproductive health care providers give for why teen pregnancies are decreasing while youth STD rates are increasing? These findings will be used by the DOH to create policies and strategies that promote adolescent sexual health.

5) I conducted a study with a community agency that is building emergency housing for homeless youth and needs youth input on how best to design this facility so that it will appeal to youth.  With a team of undergraduate research assistants, we conducted focus groups with homeless youth. The information was given to DEA students who used the findings to develop design guidelines and working drawings of interior details for the new facility. We hope this project will help launch a long-term community/university partnership that will engage Cornell students to support efforts to better serve vulnerable youth in Tompkins County.

6)  I continue to conduct a community based participatory project with a community agency, the Learning Web, to support their efforts to gather data about homeless and runaway youth.  We conducted a 5th round of data collection of the Independent Living Study in which we partnered with homeless youth as our research assistants to study the scope and nature of youth homelessness in Ithaca.  The findings are used to expand services and housing options for homeless youth.


Powers, Jane.L and McCabe, Lisa. A. Non-Tenure Track Academic Jobs: The side of Academia You Didn't Know Existed.  In J. Urban and M. Linver (Eds.) Building a career outside academia: a guide for doctoral students in the behavioral and social science,. American Psychological Association (2018).

Jane Powers, Mary Maley, Amanda Purington, Karen Schantz & Jutta Dotterweich (2015) Implementing Evidence-Based Programs: Lessons Learned From the Field, Applied Developmental Science, 19:2, 108-116, DOI: 10.1080/10888691.2015.1020155

 Zeldin, S., Christens, B., and Powers, J. The Psychology and Practice of Youth-Adult Partnership.  American Journal of Community Psychology, 2013 June; 51 (3-4): 385-97.

 Eckenrode, J, Campa, M., Cole, R., Kitzman, H., Anson, E., Sidora, K., Luckey, D., Powers, J., Henderson, C., Olds, D. (2010) Long-Term Effects of Prenatal and Infancy Nurse Home Visitation on the Life-Course of Youth:  19-Year Follow-Up of a Randomized Trial. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine; 164(1): 9-15.

 Whitlock, J., Powers, J., and Eckenrode, J (2006) The Virtual Cutting Edge: The Internet and Adolescent Self Injury. Developmental Psychology, 42(3):1-11.

Powers, J. and Tiffany, J. (2006) Engaging youth in participatory research and evaluation. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, November Supplement, p 68-76.

 Eckenrode, J., Zielinski, D., Smith, El., Marcynszyn, L., Henderson, C., Kitzman, H., Cole, R., Powers, J., and Olds, D. “Child Maltreatment and the early onset of problem behaviors: Can a program of nurse home visitation break the link?” Development and Psychopathology, 13 (2001), 873-890. 

Since 1985, I have been on the research staff of the Familiy Life Development Center now the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research.  I currently serve as the Project Director and PI of the Assets Coming Together (ACT) for Youth Center for Community Action, an intermediary that supports the implementation of positive youth development strategies and evidence based sexual health programs throughout communities and youth serving programs across New York State. ACT for Youth, based at Cornell in the BCTR,  collaborates with the University of Rochester Division of Adolescent Medicine and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC, to provide training, technical assistance, resources and evaluation support for grantees funded by the New York State Department of Health to promote adolescent sexual health and prevent risky behaviors. I am interested in the application of knowledge to practice and in using research to improve the lives of children, youth and families. Much of my work focuses on supporting the implementation and evaluation of evidence based programs that promote adolescent sexual health of grantees located across New York State  ACT also supports several other DOH funded initiatives, one that works with 9-12 year olds to support their transition to adolescence, and one that works with teen parents in order to promote health, education, economic and social outcomes.  I currently have an additional collaboration with the NYS Dept of Health on a CDC funded research grant to test the efficacy of a curricula designed to reduce risk of sexual violence perpetation among middle school boys.  The DOH will be expanding its focus on violence prevention as a public health issue for adolescents.  Our research is used by policy makers at the DOH who incorporate our findings into their programs, initiatives and strategies.  My research interests include positive youth development, adolescent sexual health, implementation science, program evaluation,  violence prevention, and youth homelessness. I have a special interest in participatory research approaches with youth and have been involved in a number of projects that engage youth as research and evaluation partners. I have had a long standing project collaborating with a community based organization that serves homeless youth.  We have conducted a participatory research project,  partnering with homeless youth to study the scope and nature of youth homelessness.  We have collected data 5 times in the past 16 years.  The findings have been used to increase funding and services (including housing) for homeless youth. I also have a small grant to help a community agency design a new shelter for homeless youth. We have been conducting focus groups with homeless youth gathering their input on features of an emergency housing which most appeal to them. These ideas will be given to design students who will generate designs for the new shelter that is being built in Ithaca for homeless youth.

1) Collaborate with a community agency to provide them with data to use to expand services and housing options for homeless youth.

2) Disseminate an on-line youth development basic training for new youth workers and volunteers in the extension system and other youth serving organizations to orient them to the principles and best practices of positve youth development.

3) Provide training and evaluation support to Oswego county's teen pregnancy prevention initiative (TPP national funding). 

4) Disseminate youth development knowledge, best practice and resources to policy makers, educators, and service providers across NYS and nationally through training, workshops, conferences and the ACT for Youth website www.actforyouth.net.

5) Support the implementation of youth development principles and practices in youth serving programs and community settings across communities in New York State.

6)  Assist community based programs implement evidence based interventions with fidelity and quality

7) Build capacity of practitioners to conduct program evaluation and use evaluatioun data to strengthen program quality.

8) Build capacity of practitioners to engage youth as evaluation partners

9) Facilitate program assessment and action planning through youth/adult partnerships;

10) Develop tools and resources to facilitate the implementation of effective youth-adult partnerships;

11) Provide information and resources to state agencies and policy makers on youth development to enhance their efforts and build statewide youth development agenda

12) Conduct research that informs the development of adolescent sexual health initiatives  programs, and policies for the NYS Department of Health.

13) Conduct focus groups to inform the development of a statewide adolescent health policies and initiatives.


PI and Project Director, Assets Coming Together (ACT) for Youth Center for Community Action 

Co-investigator, CDC funded grant

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