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Making Value Visible By Building Resources That Work

Making Value Visible By Building Resources That Work

By Matt McDowell | November 1, 2018
Director of Product Development and Dissemination, ETR

I often refer to myself as “the mere mortal” here at ETR. We have big idea people. We have super creative people. We have nationally and internationally recognized research people.

Me? My job is to help put the work of all those folks into practice—and into your practice when it fits.

At ETR, we are science forward in everything we do. All of our products and services align to science-based norms. The team I work with can translate science- and research-based results into formats that can be put to use in schools and communities.

We do this in a variety of ways. One is by taking “raw” materials and turning them into the kind of research-based teaching curricula and guides that educators can really use. Here’s what that might look like.

  • Supporting original content that needs some work. Have you ever worked with a first-version curriculum developed for a research project? (Imagine a big stack of Word documents covered in sticky notes.) We’ve turned materials like these into clear, consistent, easy-to-use teaching tools. We can integrate behavioral health objectives, teacher blackline masters, student handouts, assessment benchmarks and other supportive elements, depending on the needs of the program.

Take a look at Project Image or STRIVE to see examples of this kind of work.

  • Updating content. Sometimes, science-based materials still work but have started to show their age. We run them through our filters on issues such as medical accuracy, current preferred terms and best-practice in ease-of-use and design for educators. If needed, we add in guidelines for educators on issues such as consent, or working from a trauma-informed perspective. We collaborate with original program developers in this process whenever we can.

For example, when we teamed up with a company called Select Media back in 2015, we brought their programs into ETR’s online store. We took virtually every title from their catalog through this type of review. Today, these programs extend their reach through a more effective, up-to-date format.

  • Celebrating “clean and ready.” Sometimes, we receive materials that have followed our style and substance guidelines from the outset. We run those through our standard review and copyedit process and they are good to go.
  • Going digital. We are proud to offer our signature K12 health and wellness program, HealthSmart, in both print and digital editions. This reflects our commitment to offering materials in formats that work for a broad range of educators.

One of my favorite descriptions of the work I do is that it is “making value visible.” We’ve all seen great programs that get developed, evaluated, and then end up on a shelf where no one can find them. I hate to see that happen. A vital step in the process of taking research to practice is getting materials that are tested and proven into formats that educators and program planners can access. We also work to promote visibility of these resources so people can learn about programs and make informed choices for their own communities.

Do You Know About a Good, Unpublished Program?

We have a mission—to provide science-based solutions to improve health and increase opportunities for youth, families and communities. You’re part of it! Perhaps you use our materials. Maybe you’ve helped in the research. You might be an educator/leader who cares about the well-being of youth and communities.

If you’ve seen an unpublished program that excites you, or you’ve developed a science-based resource that fits within ETR’s areas of focus (see box), I invite you to reach out to me personally. We are always looking for high-quality resources that advance our mission.

ETR’s Areas of Focus

ETR’s multidisciplinary staff works to transform outcomes in four primary areas, which we call our “crops.”

  • HIV, Sexual & Reproductive Health
  • Equity & Inclusion in STEM
  • School-Based Health & Wellness
  • Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs


Matt McDowell is Director of Product Development & Dissemination at ETR. He is also Co-Director of the California Tobacco Education Clearinghouse. He can be reached at

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