Project TRUST

Project TRUST (Training for Resiliency in Urban Students and Teachers)

Project TRUST

The Project TRUST team has a long history together (described below). The team was recently awarded a five year U01 Collaborative Agreement grant through the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. This current project approaches school connectedness and achievement as key social determinants of health and addresses important protective factors contributing to positive youth development and decreased tobacco and other substance use. We used community based participatory research (CBPR) to build and implement a teacher professional development program. The program uses an assets-based approach with teachers to support peer learning and skill development in improving relationships with Somali, Latino, and Hmong 9th grade students and promoting positive youth development and school connectedness. 

This current project uses everything learned over the previous 6+ years, including an active community coalition that directs the study. As well as the following components:

  • The teacher-focused, pilot-tested, Professional Development evaluated in 2012-2015, to support teacher skills in building relationships with all youth, but Somali, Latino/a, and Hmong youth in particular.
  • A new youth component using youth participatory action research (YPAR) to address key school environment barriers to connectedness from the student perspective.
  • Enhance family/community connection through parent participatory action research.

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  • Funding Period: 2016-2020
    Funding Agency: NIH, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities #1U01MD010586-01


  • Funding Period: 2012-2015
    Funding Agency: NIH, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities #MD0079666-01 and #1P60MD003422
  • Funding Period: 2010 - 2011
    Funding Agency: Program in Health Disparities Research Pilot Grants
  • Funding Period: 2011-2012
    Funding Agency: Clinical Translational Science Institute Planning Grant

History of Partnership

The goal for Project TRUST (Training for Resiliency in Urban Students and Teachers) funded in 2012-2015 was to use a Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach to develop and implement a school-based intervention focused on the needs of Somali, Latino and Hmong middle and high school youth to promote positive youth development and address key behavioral outcomes. Outcomes were determined as part of the CBPR process and included substance use, violence, and mental health/coping.

Somali, Latino, and Hmong are the largest immigrant groups in Minnesota and comprise a large and growing proportion of children in urban public school districts. While these groups represent distinct cultures and experiences, the Somali, Latino and Hmong Partnership for Health and Wellness (SoLaHmo) have identified commonalities, including shared community values (including formal education) and assets and a shared desire for safe, healthy, strong families and communities.

To date this partnership has used CBPR approaches to identify teacher and school culture related factors that promote school connection and positive youth development for Somali, Latino, and Hmong youth. The project in 2012 - 2015 expanded the current partnership to include, among others, the Saint Paul Public School District, in order to develop and implement an intervention based on formative data.

Aims of the 2012 - 2015 pilot study were:

Aim 1: Build a collaborative process with representatives of youth, parents, schools, community organizations, and the Saint Paul School District to direct the project to identify key perspectives not yet included in the asset/need assessment, and direct collection of that data

Aim 2: Engage individuals representing a broad array of community, research, and school perspectives in a concept mapping approach that draws on formative qualitative work to develop key components and approaches of an intervention to promote PYD among middle or high school age Latino, Somali, and Hmong youth and identify key youth behavioral outcomes of focus

Aim 3: Pilot the intervention designed through Aims 1 and 2 in one or two St. Paul high schools during grant years 2 and 3.

Supporting Material 

NAPCRG Presentation

Academic Co-Principal Investigator

Michele Allen, MD, MS  

Community Co-Principal Investigator

Luis E. Ortega, MEd


Shannon Pergament, MPH, MSW
Mikow Hang, BA
Martha Bigelow, PhD
Kola Okuyemi, MD, MPH

Collaborating Agencies

Somali, Latino, and Hmong Partnership for Health and Wellness (SoLaHmo), West Side Community Health Services, St. Paul Public School District