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This action research project, generously funded by The Childrenís Trust of Miami-Dade County, will affect professionals, programs, and organizations, which, in turn, will affect the lives of children and families through program and policy changes. The project promotes child and family well-being in the county by introducing professionals to an innovative model based on SPEC. Using the Learning and Changing by Doing (LCBD) approach, participants infuse their organizations with SPEC principles and document outcomes.

University of Miami Project Team

Issac Prilleltensky, Ph.D., Dean
Principal Investigator (PI)
Scot Evans, Ph.D.
Randy Penfield, Ph.D.
Debbie Nogueras, ARNP, Ph.D.
Project Director
Adrine Mckenzie, Ph.D.
Research Project Director
Ora Prilleltensky, Ed.D.
Graduate student assistants
Ann Marie Faria, Audrey Weyler, Corinne Huggins,Shira Kolnik

Participants in this project include: The Childrenís Trust, Health Foundation of South Florida /Health Choice Network, The Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade and Monroe, Human Services Coalition /Switchboard of Miami.

This is a three-year action research project which will help organizations evaluate the extent to which their organizationís practice and policies correlate with the SPEC principles over time. Evaluations take place at three time periods, within the first year of the project (baseline), following a year of SPEC training and support (implementation) and at the end of the third year (sustainability).


1. LCBD Educational Component This educational process includes includes partner organizations and through their participation in the LCBD educational component will be learning about SPEC principals and tools. Members also play key roles as part of the Transformation teams (t-team). Additional funding provided by the Health Foundation of South Florida.

2. Transformation Teams (T-teams) Training cohort members form the core group of T-teams in the organization. The role of the T-team is (to assess the SPEC profile, identify areas for change and put into place mechanisms to sustain the changes that are in keeping with SPEC principles.

3. SPEC Executive Council Executives from the umbrella organizations and the project research team will meet 5 times a year to discuss the process, to participate in information sharing and to network regarding the SPEC process.

4. Organizational Consultation Sessions A member of the UM Team will consult with the member organizations involved in the transformation process.

5. SPEC Professional Development/Working Sessions These sessions will aim to familiarize the entire organization with the SPEC project and philosophy. The sessions will be led by T-team and UM research team members.

6. SPEC Conference The goal of the conference is to disseminate information and lessons learned to the service community in Miami-Dade County.

7. SPEC e-Newsletter The goal of the bi-annual newsletter is to educate service providers about SPEC.

8. SPEC Website Development of the projectís website, specway.org aims to provide to disseminate information related to project awareness, SPEC training methods, sustainability for organizations participating in SPEC and to share research findings.

More information on this project can be found at www.specway.org.

Contact us at:

Dean Isaac Prilleltensky, Ph.D.  isaacp@miami.edu
Debbie Nogueras, ARNP, Ph.D.  dnogueras@miami.edu


This program is generously funded by The Childrenís Trust and will integrate evidence-based curricula in character education, mentoring, leadership development, personal health/wellness and community engagement to connect young people to the community. This will be based on the SPEC framework of personal, organizational and community well-being. The primary goal of this program is to develop youth strengths and utilize a youth/adult partnership model (Y/AP) to maximize healthy personal development and engagement in activities that increase individual and community well-being for youth in the 7th-9th grades in Overtown-Town Park Village.

Components include: three 1 hour sessions once weekly and five Saturday sessions over 41 weeks which will include one or more activities in a lesson plan developed from the integration of the following curricula:

  • Tiger Woods Action Plan (TWAP) (6 units -30 activities varying in length from 30 minutes to 2 hours or more)
  • Youth Adult Partnership Training Manual (YAPTM) ( 6 units with activities in varying lengths)
  • Learning and Leading Tool Kit (LLTK) (3 units with multiple activities in varying lengths)
  • SPEC theory integrated into all session.
Youth/Adult partnerships along with project staff and adult mentors will engage in planning, designing and executing a community engagement project. Best practices used will be: youth-led, experiential, exposure to community structures, organizations, and individuals to allow youth to make observations, gather data, and make collective decisions about next action steps to take towards their personal and community project goals. Participants will determine what their project(s) will be, create a budget and business plan, and present their plan to a panel of program staff, community members and special guests.

Participants will be trained in research and evaluation skills to assess, implement, document, evaluate and publicly disseminate their findings and recommendations about community issues impacting youth well-being.

Project Staff:

Scot Evans, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator (PI)
Debbie Nogueras, ARNP, Ph.D.
Project Director
Audrey Weyler, M.A.
Research Consultant
Samantha Dietz, Ph.D.
Volunteer Consultant

Project Coordinator and Mentors to be determined.