Project AIM: Adult Identity Mentoring A Youth Development Intervention for HIV Risk Reduction

The Research

The Science behind the Package

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Project AIM is a group-level youth development intervention designed to reduce HIV risk behaviors among youth. The intervention is based on the Theory of Possible Selves, which states that a person’s motivation is determined by a balance of positive and negative ways people see themselves in the future. Individuals who are able to imagine both possible positive and negative futures are more likely to work toward their life goals and achieve future success. Thus, Project AIM encourages at-risk youth to imagine a positive future and discuss how current risk behaviors can be a barrier to a successful adulthood.

Target Population
African American youth ages 11-14

Project AIM originally consisted of ten 50-minute sessions delivered to groups of 10 to 20 youth. During translation and packaging, the intervention was expanded to twelve sessions by making some of the activities its own session. The intervention is divided into four parts. Using group discussions and interactive activities, Part One encourages youth to explore their personal interests, social surrounding, and what they want to become as an adult. Youth also identify people in their lives who may be barriers or supporters to their successful adulthood. Young adults from the community who are on their road to success are invited to speak with youth in Part One. In Part Two of the intervention, youth envision themselves in a future career and connect current behavior with success as an adult through activities such as completing a career interest inventory, developing business cards and resumes, and participating in interviews. Part Three of the intervention engages youth in role-plays around communication and small group activities involving planning and decision-making. Part Four provides the opportunity for youth to think about their future in terms of milestones to accomplish goals and overcome potential obstacles they may encounter in life.

Research Results
Project AIM was tested in schools among African American 7th grade students in a suburb near Birmingham, Alabama. At 12 weeks after the intervention youth participating in

Project AIM compared with youth not receiving the intervention reported the following outcomes:

  • Increased abstinence
  • Decreased intention to engage in sex

For Details on the Research Design
Clark L, Miller K, Nagy S, Avery J, Roth D, Liddon N, et al. (2005). Adult identity mentoring: Reducing sexual risk for African-American seventh grade students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 37, 337.e1–337.e10.

The Intervention

A Package Developed from Science
Replicating Effective Programs (REP) is a CDC-initiated project that supports the translation of evidence-based HIV/AIDS prevention interventions into everyday practice, by working with the original researchers in developing a user-friendly package of materials designed for prevention providers.

Project AIM is one the REP interventions and is the product of extensive collaboration among researchers, educators, providers, community agencies, and youth. Project AIM has been field-tested in two community-based settings, including a church setting, by non-research staff with African American and Latino youth. Therefore, this intervention package is appropriate for implementation in community settings by agency staff serving African American and Latino youth. With minor adaptation, the intervention package also may be appropriate for youth of other races or ethnicities living in low-income neighborhoods. Project AIM was field-tested in low-income school districts.

Core Elements
Core elements are intervention components that must be maintained without alteration to ensure program effectiveness. Project AIM core elements include:

Content Core Elements
1. Engage youth in thinking about a positive possible future self.

  • Look ahead to the future as successful adults.
  • Envision a positive future self.
  • Set goals and plans to achieve a positive future as an adult.
  • Articulate the specific details of a positive future self.

2. Engage youth in present actions to achieve future success.

  • Develop skills to achieve effective communication.
  • Identify their strengths and the resources needed for future success.
  • Experience success to reinforce youths’ positive future selves.

3. Encourage youth to safeguard the future through risk reduction.

  • Develop strategies to safeguard the likelihood of a positive future self through risk reduction and a balance of their future possible positive and negative selves.

Implementation Core Elements

4. Use two skilled and trained facilitators whom youth find credible to deliver Project AIM.

5. Deliver multiple intervention sessions, with sufficient time between sessions for youth to process information, draw conclusions, and invest in their goals.

Pedagogical Core Element

6. Have youth create a compilation of their work representing their positive possible future self and the activities for achieving that possible future self.
7. Deliver activities in ways that support youths with enthusiastic positive feedback that focuses on their individual strengths.

Package Contents

  • Project AIM Implementation Manual including a Facilitator’s
  • Posters and a CD with youth worksheets

These additional materials are not part of the package and must be ordered by agencies on their own:

  • The Career Game Explorer Booklets and Web tickets

Timeline for Availability
The package is available from CDC along with training on program implementation and technical assistance.

For More Information on the Project AIM Package
Donna Lopez or Dr. Leslie Clark at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Division of Research on Children, Youth and Families, 6430 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90027. Phone: 323.361-8446. E-mail:  or

To find out more about future trainings, please visit Effective Interventions.