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Foundation grant furthers adolescent development research

By Alec Jennings
University News Service
September 5, 2008


Raphael Travis, Jr.

With a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), Texas State University-San Marcos Assistant Professor of Social Work Raphael Travis, Jr., is continuing his research of positive youth development.

The New Connections grant will provide Travis with more than $54,000 for the 2008-2009 year to further his research in the relationship of optimizing adolescent development, or “thriving” and recidivism.

“Positive youth development supports the principle that all individuals have strengths or internal assets that can facilitate positive change in partnership with developmental assets in their surrounding ecology,” Travis said. “‘Thriving’ is often measured by what are known as the five Cs of positive youth development: competence, character, confidence, connection and caring.”

Beginning in 2005, the New Connections Grant is a part of a national effort from the RWJF to add perspective and expand diversity to enhance existing programs and to bring new researchers and scholars into the foundation.

Travis’ research coincides with an existing study of data collected between 1997 and 2002 using a sample of more than 500 African American and Latino males who were incarcerated in New York’s Riker’s Island prison. The goal of his research is to determine whether their outcome 12 months after discharge--future arrests, substance use and general well-being--can be explained by their developmental processes of “thriving.”

Travis earned his Ph.D. from the University of California-Los Angeles School of Public Health before coming to Texas State in the fall of 2007 where he continues his work and research on the development of adolescents.  As well as his research in positive youth development, other areas of Travis’ research include juvenile justice and attitudes and perspectives of hip-hop culture. He participates in community-based work and is an active member of the Austin/Travis County Ready by 21 Coalition and the United Way Capital Area Youth Leadership Council.