Project Venture

Brief Description

Project Venture is an outdoor youth development program developed by the National Indian Youth Leadership Project (NIYLP) that is aimed to prevent substance abuse among Indigenous youth. The program combines the classroom and outdoor settings to provide youth with a positive environment to embrace their cultural values and build on competencies and life skills that will help them later on in life. In the many implementations of this initiative, it has evolved to also tackle issues (and risk factors) such as anti-social activity, aggression, interpersonal violence and negative school experiences.

The program is centered on skill training; school based strategies; substance prevention/treatment; and team building activities.


The main goals of the Project Venture program are to:

  • Help youth develop a positive self-concept, effective social and communication skills, a community service ethic, and decision-making and problem solving skills; and
  • Develop resiliency within youth to increase their resistance to using substances (alcohol, drugs), and prevent other problem behaviours (such as violence and other criminal activity); and
  • Develop leadership skills in participating youth.


The appropriate clientele for the Project Venture program are youth (including Indigenous youth) aged 10-17 that are engaged in violence, anti-social or criminal activity, and/or substance abuse or are at a high risk of becoming so. Participants may also be having negative school experiences.

Core Components

The Project Venture program consists of the following components:

  • Classroom-Based Activities: 20 to 25 1-hour sessions delivered throughout the course of the school year. Lessons such as leadership and spirituality are taught through a combination of socialization and team-building activities;
  • Outdoor Activities: Weekly after-school and weekend adventure based activities, such as hiking and camping, challenge youth and help them to develop problem solving and social interaction skills as well as a sense of responsibility;
  • Adventure Camps and Treks: During the summer, youth participate in adventure camps and wilderness treks that last from 3 to 10 days. Elders, positive role models and “cultural” experts accompany participants throughout these activities; and
  • Community-Oriented Service Learning: Youth complete 4 service learning projects a year (150 hours of community based activities). These activities include meaningful service learning opportunities such as working with Elders or creating art projects for the community to enjoy, and are designed to help youth develop leadership skills.

Implementation Information

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

  • Organizational requirements: In order to properly implement the program, the organization should be composed of educators and support staff that are available to help and guide youth through the program (One in class educator for 25 students; One community component educator for every 7-15 youth). It is also recommended that support staff be graduates from the Project Venture program. Volunteers’ and teachers’ support are also helpful to the success of the program.
  • Partnerships: Important partnerships for the implementation of Project Venture are the school of potential participants and organizations or groups with access to recreational spaces and resources.
  • Training and technical assistance: Onsite training (minimum of 2 days) should be provided to all staff implementing the program. Contact should also be had with the developers of the program within the first 2 years of implementation.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: The replication guide for the Project Venture program should be followed for the implementation of the program. Further, access to recreational space and equipment would be an asset.

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: Promising
  • 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

In total, from 2009 to 2021, 12 organizations will have been supported by Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy to implement Project Venture. As of 2020, one organization is still implementing a Project Venture program.

Programs are classified alphabetically:Footnote1

  • La Loche Project Venture (Northern Village of La Loche) (Saskatchewan) (2010-2015) (process evaluation completed)
  • Norway House Cree Nation's Project Venture (Norway House Cree Nation) (Manitoba) (2011-2013) (performance monitoring and assessment completed)
  • Nithotiion:sa Ka'nikonhri:io Enshonthahi:ta - The Youth Will Walk a Path of Good Mind (Mohawk Council of Kanesatake) (Quebec) (2013-2018) (performance monitoring and assessment completed)
  • Ooskahtsuk (Youth) Club (Tataskweyak Cree Nation) (Manitoba) (2010-2014) (performance monitoring and assessment completed)
  • Peguis Project Venture (Peguis First Nation Band) (Manitoba) (2010-2013) (performance monitoring and assessment completed)
  • Project Hope (Beh-Jip-Po-Nen Wejok-Ked-Wa-Gon Inc.) (New Brunswick) (2013-2018) (performance monitoring and assessment completed)
  • Project Journey (Ontario Provincial Police, Northwest Region) (Ontario) (2013-2018) (process and outcome evaluation completed; see study #1)
  • Project Sunset (Ontario Provincial Police, Northwest Region) (Ontario) (2015-2020) (process and outcome evaluation completed; see study #2)
  • Project Venture (Clearwater River Dene Nation) (Saskatchewan) (2016-2021) (performance monitoring and assessment in progress)
  • Project Venture: A Model Program for Mentoring Aboriginal Youth (Mi'kmaw Legal Support Network) (Nova Scotia) (2009-2013) (performance monitoring and assessment completed)
  • Project Venture Kamloops (Secwepemc Cultural Education Society) (British Columbia) (2014-2019) (performance monitoring and assessment completed)
  • Sur le sentier Atikamekw - d'hier à aujourd'hui à demain (Conseil de Bande des Atikamekw) (Quebec) (2014-2019) (performance monitoring and assessment completed)

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

Study 1

As part of Public Safety Canada’s funding, an outcome evaluation study of Project Journey was conducted between 2017 and 2018 by R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd.  A contribution analysis was used to gauge Project Journey’s impact on youth and community outcomes.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  • Teachers and program staff indicated that they had witnessed youth who attended school irregularly, become regular attendees after participation in Project Journey activities. However, it should be noted that other factors, such as the opening of a new school facility in 2016, may have significantly contributed to youth improvements in school attendance.
  • Participant survey results suggest a reduction in substance use (including smoking, drinking alcohol and/or using marijuana), however, due to the fact that survey results rely on self-reported data, these results should be considered with caution. 
  • Police data reveals that youth crime rate prior to the implementation of Project Journey was higher compared to post-program implementation.  While this decline cannot be completely attributed to Project Journey, various stakeholders, including officers, reported that Project Journey offered youth alternative life choices and positive role models.

For more information, refer to R. A. Malatest & Associates Ltd.’s (2018) publication.

Study 2

As part of Public Safety Canada’s funding, an outcome evaluation study of Project Sunset was completed by R. A. Malatest & Associates Ltd. The evaluation of Project Sunset utilized multiple lines of evidence to triangulate and verify findings through many sources and methods of data collection.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  • Key informants noted that Project Sunset removed barriers for participation by providing transportation, child care and food.
  • Participant survey results showed that the program had an impact on youth school attachment. In years two and three of the evaluation, youth school attendance, grades, participation in activities, peer relations and desire to pursue further education increased when compared to year one.
  • School records show that the total number of suspensions for participants in the Keewatin Patricia School District decreased from 63 to 48.
  • Although substance use rates increased when comparing baseline and follow-up survey participants, the increase was less substantial in year three of the evaluation compared to years one and two. This suggests that longer exposure to the program may impact youth decision making and substance use.

For more information, refer to R. A. Malatest & Associates Ltd.’s (2020) publication.

Cost Information

In 2018, as part of R. A. Malatest & Associates Ltd.’s outcome evaluation study, it was found that between 2014 and 2018, overall total program expenses for Project Journey amounted to $1,396,124 (CAD) and the total average cost per youth participant was $2,059 (CAD).*

*Costs per participant are based on the engagement of 678 youth in any program activity over the course of Project Journey. Expenses for 2018 only account for partial amounts, as the program was still operating during the completion of the final report. Therefore, this is not a true per participant cost.

In 2020, as part of R. A. Malatest & Associates Ltd.’s outcome evaluation study, it was found that the average cost per participant in Project Sunset was $6,438 (CAD).


National Crime Prevention Centre. (2011). Promising and Model Crime Prevention Programs Volume 2. Ottawa, ON: Public Safety Canada. Available from:

R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd. (2018). Project Journey Evaluation. Final Evaluation Report. Submitted to Public Safety Canada (Unpublished report).

R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd. (2020). Project Sunset. Final Evaluation Report. Submitted to Public Safety Canada. (Unpublished report).

For more information on this program, contact:

National Indian Youth Leadership Project, Inc.

Director of Operations, Project Venture

2501 San Pedro NE, Suite 116

Albuquerque, NM 87110

Telephone: (505) 554-2289


Web site:

Record Entry Date - 2018-03-09
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
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    For specific information about each replication of the program, communicate with the Research Division, Public Safety Canada.

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