Senior Extension Associate, ACT for Youth COE
35 Thornwood Drive Suite 200 Ithaca, NY 14850
Ithaca, New York
Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research


Since 1985, I have been a senior staff member of Cornell University's Family Life Development Center, now the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, where I have worked on a variety of research projects which have examined the impact of violence on the lives of children, youth and families. Since 2000, I have been involved in the application of research to practice, specifically around promoting the health and well being of adolescents and preventing risk behaviors, including violence, risky sexual behavior, and abuse.  I currently am the PI and Project Director for the Assets Coming Together (ACT) for Youth Center For Community Action, which is a collaboration of Cornell, the University of Rochester Division of Adolescent Medicine, and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC.  We work closely with our funder, the NYS Department of Health and with communities and youth serving organizations across New York State helping them implement positive youth development strategies, prevent risky behavior, and provide resources, tools and expertise on using and evaluating evidence based programs that promote adolescent sexual health.  My research interests include positive youth development, evaluation of community based programs, implementation science,  adolescent sexual health, child abuse and neglect, and youth homelessness.  I received my 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 wCDC 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 Rochester and Buffalo 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), LYFE (high school program for pregnant teens) and a community organization, Public Health Solutions,  to 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.  

4)  We continue to conduct focus groups for the DOH on topics pertaining to adolescent health that inform statewide policies and initiatives. In this past year, we conducted a focus group project to better understand how young black and Hispanic males perceive and respond to media messages encourage them to reduce their consumption of sugar sweeted beverages. The results of this research will be used by the NYS Dept of Health to develop a media campaign aimed at reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. 

5))  IN collaboration with Janis Whitlock, I continue to be involved in a project that is examining adolescent sexual health in the digital age. We have been collecting data from parents, educators, and youth, on the types of digital media youth are using to learn about sexual health and engage in sexual activities.  We have developed a survey for use with college students and have collected pilot data using it.  We will be using this data to develop a curriulum for use with middle school and high school students to educate them about technology mediated sexual affordances.  

6)  I continue to provide research support to Learning Web, supporting their efforts to gather data about homeless and runaway youth.  We will be conducting a 5th round of data collection in the coming year, building on the methods and approaches used in the prior cycles.



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 (CCA) 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. 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  The COE 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 have a new collaboration with the NYS Dept of Health on a CDC funded research grant to test the efficacy of a curricul to reduce risk of sexual violence perpetation among middle school boys.  The DOH will be expanding their focus in adolescewnt health to include violence prevention.  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 4 times in the past 12 years and have used these data to improve services for at risk youth in the Ithaca community.

1) 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.

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

3) 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12) Conduct focus groups to inform the development of a statewide media campaign to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages as an obesity prevention strategy.


Ph.D., 1985, Developmental Psychology, Cornell University, Ithaca NY.

B.A., 1977, Social Science, Residential College, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

I serve as PI and Project Director for the Assets Coming Together (ACT) for Youth Center for Community Action and oversee and manage several additional youth development and adolescent health research projects, and grants and contracts (e.g., Federal Formula Funds grants, Office of Adolescent Health Teen Pregnancy Prevention funding with Oswego county and Pregnancy Assistance Fund with the Pathways to Success project). I manage the budgets and contracts for all ACT for Youth research projects, communicating with fiscal units in state agencies and Cornell. I also manage and supervise 10 staff based at Cornell, and 5 staff based off campus.  I am a co-investigator on a CDC funded grant that is testing the effeicacy of a violence prevention curriculum and oversee the budgets and workplans for this effort.