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Safe and Drug-Free Schools: Promising Prevention Practices


A project of the

Schools Build Assets was developed, in part, to assist families, educators, schools, and communities in encouraging youth to remain in the school setting learning, growing, and developing into responsible citizens we want to have as our neighbors, community leaders, and co-workers. For more information on positive youth outcomes through the research of Developmental Assets, visit the Search Institute website. The following links provide information on the strength-based research that formed the foundation for this project.

The mission of the Schools Build Assets program is to provide suspended and expelled youth with opportunities to experience the consequences of their actions while at the same time to develop assets, increase protective factors, decrease risk factors, recognize their own individual strengths, accept responsibility for their actions, and connect in meaningful ways to their schools and communities. 

The need for a program such as Schools Build Assets becomes clearer when you look at the alarming rate of students who are unsuccessful in their educational pursuits. According to figures from the Nebraska Department of Education, Education Services/Data Center, there were 19,978 suspensions in Nebraska public schools during the 2001-2002 school year. That is a 36 percent increase from the previous year's suspensions. Expulsions are also on the increase and, although not at the level of suspensions, the consequences of expulsion are even greater when you consider that virtually all students who are expelled never return to school. 

However, neither suspension nor expulsion actually guarantees prevention of inappropriate behaviors in school or academic success. In fact, they may only serve to temporarily shift delinquent behavior from the school to the home and community settings. Students who are out of school, unsupervised, and on their own may actually increase their delinquent behavior. The following links provide more information and tools to assess your school and community needs regarding suspended and expelled students.

Read about School, Community, and Student Assessment

Assessment tools for schools:

Assessment tools for communities:

Assessment tools for students:

Schools Build Assets was a pilot project conducted throughout the state during the 2003-04 and 2004-05 school years. It was developed to encourage students in danger of suspension or expulsion to become involved in community service and service-learning opportunities as a way to focus on the strengths of a student vs. focusing on their negative behavior.

What is Community Service Learning?

The project was founded on strength-based youth development research and findings from the national survey, Growing to Greatness: The State of Service-Learning Projects, which indicated that "the human and financial energy spent on committing support to service-learning – policy, training, administrative, and funding – is likely well-spent, perhaps especially in high-poverty schools, where principals may see it as an especially valuable part of their promotion of academic achievement." 

But community service-learning is not strictly an academic program; it is also heavily invested in skill building, character building, and career development. Students actively participate in the process of understanding, integrating, and applying knowledge through a project to improve their community. Schools Build Assets is designed to be flexible so schools and community organizations can shape it to meet their individual needs to be reflective of their community. The program is adaptable to urban or rural communities.