The RAND Corporation conducted a rigorous study in 2008 of 19 sites where the original programme was taught as an after-school activity. This evaluation involved 737 children and was focused in areas located in southeast Florida. The researchers surveyed teachers and children before the programme began, immediately after it ended, and 12 weeks later. They used a well-known, validated survey instrument that asked about positive behaviours (such as adaptability and communication) and negative behaviours (such as anxiety, depression and learning problems).
The researchers analysed the data using quasi-experimental methods, controlling for site variation and baseline characteristics of children.
The Programme was found to have had significant beneficial effects on virtually every positive behaviour evaluated by the survey including adaptability, communication, leadership and social skills. Results indicated a reduction in negative behaviours including anxiety, conduct problems, depression, hyperactivity, learning problems, and somatization. Notably, the size of the effects exceeded the average found for other after-school programs targeting similar outcomes.
There was also evidence from the 12-week follow-up that these beneficial effects persisted. The evaluation also showed that the programme affected school-related outcomes including improved study skills and reduced attention problems. Finally, the study offered the first causal link between spiritual development and resilience.