Project Youth Options for Success (Project YOS)

Program snapshot

Age group: Late childhood (7-11); Adolescence (12-17); Young adult (18-24); Adult (25-64)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Adult offenders; Gang-involved (and/or at risk); Youth in contact with law enforcement (and/or at risk)

Topic: Aggressive/violent behaviours; Gang and/or related criminal activities

Setting: Urban area; School-based

Location: Ontario

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 1

Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention; Tertiary crime prevention

Brief Description

The Project Youth Options for Success (Project YOS), is based on the WraparoundFootnote1 and the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.).Footnote2 Project YOS works with youth, the family, the school system, and the community to reduce future criminal activity/gang involvement.

Program strategies include: after school; family therapy; job employment; leadership and youth development; and skills training.


The main goals of Project YOS are to:

  • Build life skills and enhance awareness about gang issues;
  • Prevent youth violence while developing positive relationships with their families and criminal justice professionals; and
  • Increase employability in at-risk young adults.


The appropriate clientele for Project YOS is at-risk grade 4 and grade 7 children (and their families) who attend selected schools in the Niagara Region. In addition, Project YOS is targeted towards youth and young adults in the same region who have been identified by the criminal justice system stakeholders as active in, or with a close association to, a gang (or otherwise involved in criminal behaviours), and are experiencing lifestyle barriers that hinder their employability.

Participants are referred to the program by youth and social services agencies, as well as criminal justice system stakeholders including Crown attorneys, probation officers, the Niagara Regional Housing Corporation, and the Niagara Regional Social Service Department.

Core Components

Project YOS consists of three components: G.R.E.A.T School Program (6 weeks for grade 4, and 13 weeks for grade 7), G.R.E.A.T Families Program (6 sessions), and Building Options Gang Exit Program (70 hours over 10 days). The program components include the following:

  • G.R.E.A.T school: A gang awareness initiative taught in schools by law enforcement officers;
  • G.R.E.A.T families: A family strengthening initiative aimed at building positive family functioning, improving communication and decision making skills; and
  • Building options: An intervention that discusses topics such as employment, and drug and alcohol awareness.

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: Limited information on this topic.
  • Partnerships: Key partnerships are with the Niagara Region Police Service (NRPS) and the district school board. Other partners include youth services, various community organizations, local businesses, and health/social services.
  • Training and technical assistance: Staff must be trained in the Wraparound approach.
  • Risk assessment tools: Astwood’s Gang Risk Assessment Instrument (GRAI) tool was used for participants in the Building Options program.
  • Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy provided funding to implement Project YOS in schools in the Niagara region (Ontario) from 2007-2011. Project YOS was implemented by the Niagara Citizen’s Advisory Committee (NCAC).

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

As part of Public Safety Canada’s funding, an outcome evaluation studyFootnote3 of Project YOS was conducted in 2008-2011 by the Astwood Strategy Corporation. The study used pre and post (one year) program data from student questionnaires; teacher’s surveys; youth focus groups; and key informant interviews stakeholders. A comparison group of children from similar schools was also used.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  • The program was found to improve life skills, knowledge of gangs and relationships to and perceptions of police; and
  • It was also found to have a potential unintended effect of reducing participant’s disapproval of gangs.

For more information, refer to the Astwood Strategy Corporation’s (2011) publication.

Cost Information

For the duration of the program (2007-2011), the cost per youth involved in Project YOS varied depending on program component. The G.R.E.A.T Schools program costed $596.01 (CAD), the G.R.E.A.T Families program costed $7,026.59 (CAD), and the Building Options costed $3,789.25 (CAD) (Astwood Strategy Corporation, 2011).


Astwood Strategy Corporation. (2011). Project YOS: Final Evaluation Report. Final Evaluation Report. Submitted to the National Crime Prevention Centre, Public Safety Canada (Unpublished report).

For more information on this program, contact:

Youth Options for Success
104 Dunkirk Road
St. Catharine’s, Ontario L2P 3H5
Telephone: (905) 988-9944

Record Entry Date - 2018-03-09
Record Updated On - 2018-04-23
  1. 1

    For more information on Wraparound, refer to the program descriptive sheet.

  2. 2

    Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) is a gang and violence prevention program built around school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classroom curricula. The program is intended as an immunization against delinquency, youth violence, and gang membership for children in the years immediately before the prime ages for introduction into gangs and delinquent behavior. This program offers a continuum of components for students and their families that focus on providing life skills to students to help them avoid using delinquent behavior and violence to solve problems. For more information about it, consult the G.R.E.A.T. website:

  3. 3

    A process evaluation study of the program was also conducted through Public Safety Canada’s funding. For more information, communicate with the Research Division, Public Safety Canada.

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