SBIR and STTR Success Story for
Ripple Effects

(Information Posted/Updated on 09/09/2007)

Ripple Effects
88 First St.
San Francisco, CA  94105

Contact:    Alice Ray
Phone:      415-227-1669 x311
Fax:          415-227-4998
Web Site:

Project Title:  Training and assessment software to reduce risk and enhance protective factors in adolescents
Related Award(s):  4 R44 DA013325-02, 5 R44 DA013325-03
Technology Developed:
Enterprise training and assessment application to affect attitudes, behavior and school performance of adolescents. The program addresses a wide range of personal, social and structural factors that affect adolescents' likelihood to engage in unhealthy behaviors, including the use of drugs and alcohol. It uses evidence-based cognitive, behavioral, social skill and affective strategies to change behavior. It is designed for culturally competent adaptation to site-specific situations and intended for individualized, self-directed use in facilitated settings. 172 inter-linking, reading independent, culturally sensitive, media rich tutorials each have ten or more modes of interactive learning. Students and/or their adult facilitators can choose the tutorials that most meet their individual needs and/or group goals. Program tracks student progress automatically, implementers can delete any topics they consider inappropriate.

In 2003-04 a series of six simultaneous studies, funded by SBIR, demonstrated the effectiveness of the software with diverse populations with special risks. Overall effects of self-directed use at sites where implementation was high and dosage-correlated effects at sites where implementation was low both showed a positive effect on risk and protective factors. Students in the intervention groups had significantly higher grade point averages, less fatalistic thinking, fewer absences, less tardiness, and fewer disciplinary referrals than students in the comparison group. An unexpected finding from one site was that perception of harm of marijuana was lower than the control group, but actual referrals for drug use were also significantly lower than in the control group.

Key Words:  violence prevention, behavior training , software, substance abuse, truancy, adolescent risk factors, school failure, social-emotional skills.
Uses of Technology/Products/Service:
Besides health settings, such as school nurses offices, Ripple Effects software is being used in special education resource rooms, counselor's offices, advisory periods, regular classrooms, after-school programs, and discipline settings, especially in-school suspension. It has become an effective supplement for a wide range of violence, drug and alcohol prevention programs in diverse cultural settings across the country. It is also increasingly being used as a tool for addressing disproportionate discipline rates.

Benefit to Company:
Phase I SBIR funding from NIH enabled Ripple Effects to get expert panel review of a forerunner product and usable specifications for revisions to align it more closely with evidence-based practices. Phase II NIH funding enabled the company to incorporate those suggestions into a new product and do a set of small RCTs to test the effects of the new product. These studies focused on 500 high risk students under real world conditions. The 4 RCTs and 2 quasi-experimental small studies showed the program enhances protective factors and reduces risk factors, associated with the interlocking issues of school failure, adverse health outcomes and problematic social behavior. Summary findings from the research were presented at the Society for Prevention Research 2007 conference. Based on the results of this project, we not only ended up with a specific drug abuse prevention curriculum, we were able to begin the process of being listed on the National Registry of Effective Programs, and we successfully repackaged and repositioned our whole line of educational materials.

How Product Was Commercialized:
As of 2007, child, teen and staff versions of this software have been purchased by more than 550 school districts across the country to prevent youth injury and illness, and promote school and life success Showing important school-related distal effects (truancy, grades, discipline referrals) with a tool that does not require cutting into academic instruction time has enabled us to more easily get schools to commit to prevention, and early intervention on mental health issues, fulfilling our social as well as economic mission.

Other Comments Related to Company's Success Story:
About the company: Ripple Effects is a woman-owned, social enterprise. The Company has received 29 major awards from the software, communications, health and education industries and CEO Alice Ray has been recognized for her business leadership as a social entrepreneur.