In 2020, with support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Paterson Prevention Project was launched. Led by Dr. Ijeoma Opara, this project aims to reduce substance use, increase access to mental health services and improve mental health outcomes for Paterson youth. The project is a 5-year community-based study with a goal to use data to understand substance use patterns and mental health outcomes of Paterson youth. The overall goal will be to develop a prevention intervention for the City of Paterson that addresses substance use and provides mental health resources.


The project plans to achieve this by conducting:

Acknowledgments: This study is supported by the National Institutes of Health Director’s Early Independence Award (DP5OD029636)

Preliminary findings of The Paterson Prevention Project show that youth want to the following:


• Youth advocacy
• Beautification of city
• Safety

Social Support

• Peers
• Teachers
• Families


• Access to mental health
• Peer prevention education
• Safe spaces for youth


Are you between the ages of 13-21 years old and want to be a part of our focus group? We are conducting our youth focus groups and interviews now! Via zoom or in person. Click here to find out if you are eligible and a SASH Lab member will contact you with 24 hours.
Acknowledgments: This study is supported by the National Institutes of Health Director’s Early Independence Award (DP5OD029636); PI: IJEOMA OPARA)


Andriana Herrera

Project Manager for Paterson Coalition against Substance Abuse, Montclair State University

Jim Walsh

Chief Operating Officer/ Director of Community Outreach of Oasis

Tenee Joyner

Program Coordinator for Municipal Alliance Prevention Program; City of Paterson

Cristina Pagan Barnes Lee

Director of Paterson Youth Services Bureau

Stephanie Drag

Director of The Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources

Evelyn Pena

District Wide Community Outreach & Special Projects Coordinator Paterson Public Schools

Jada Fulmore

Director of Community Outreach for NJ Reentry

Dr. Robert J. Reid

Principal Investigator and Director of Paterson Coalition against Substance Abuse Montclair

Sharieff Ali Bugg

Executive Director of Growing in Grace Counseling Group

Zellie Thomas

Founder, Black Lives Matter Paterson


The youth advisory board consists of passionate youth that live either in Paterson or in the surrounding areas of Paterson. Our youth advisory board members review our study materials, engage in advocacy projects, and help us recruit youth who want their voices to be heard.

Ayden Ramos-Schneider

Benjamin Franklin Middle School

Fhameda Sultan

John F. Kennedy High School

Linda Rodriguez

Monmouth University

Nasser Eid

Yale University

Leidy Rodriguez

Monmouth University

We are looking for more representation of youth that live in Paterson and want to be a part of our advisory board. Must be between the ages of 13-21 years old and be available to participate in at least 2 meetings per month. Email patersonprevention@yale.edu for more information.