Donor Highlight: RENEW Begins a 4-year Evaluation Process with $3.5 Million Grant

The Institute on Disability is part of a research team led by the University of Vermont that has received a four-year, $3.5 million grant from the Institute of Education Science’s National Center for Education Research to conduct a multisite randomized control trial of the RENEW intervention. The Rehabilitation for Empowerment, Natural Supports, Education, and Work (RENEW) model, developed by IOD staff in 1996, is a promising individualized intervention for high school students with significant mental health challenges.

“Since 1996, we’ve used the RENEW model to make a difference in the lives of students who have limited options, and we are excited to be able to test its effectiveness in a rigorously-designed study,” explains Dr. JoAnne Malloy, the RENEW Project Director. “If we are able to confirm scientifically that RENEW is effective, it will make a major contribution to the fields of education and children’s mental health.”

Over the course of this evaluation, approximately 380 high school students will participate in 10 schools across four states--Illinois, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maryland. The goal of the study is to test whether students who receive RENEW have better outcomes than students receiving typical services by looking at differences in student engagement, self-determination, and social support, as well as at academic and behavioral functioning.

RENEW is an individualized intervention designed for high school students with emotional and behavioral challenges, drawing upon research of what works in children’s mental health and school-to-career supports. RENEW facilitators work closely with students to identify goals, form a team, and implement the eight key strategies of RENEW: supporting youth to design and pursue plans for the transition from school to adult life. For more information, visit