SAMHSA PPOWER Project (2015-2019)

PPOWER logo and health status slogan images in colorful circles

The CSULB Center for Health Equity Research (CHER), in partnership with St. Mary Medical Center, The LGBTQ Center Long Beach, and Behavioral Health Services (BHS), Inc., the second largest integrated substance abuse/mental health treatment provider in Southern California, addressed an unmet need on the CSULB campus and in the Long Beach community to serve Black young men who have sex with men (YMSM) ages 18 to 24, at risk for substance use and HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) infection.

CSULB and BHS implemented its Peer Promotion of Wellness, and Enhanced Linkage to Resources Project (PPOWER) to prevent and reduce substance use and provide community-level interventions, testing and linkage to care to prevent the transmission of HIV/HCV.

To accomplish these goals, the specific activities of the project were designed to:

1) outreach to and engage young Black MSM on the CSULB campus and in the surrounding Long Beach community;
2) recruit young Black MSM and their sex/drug partners (300 total) on the CSULB campus and in the surrounding Long Beach community;
3) provide motivation, support and hope to young Black MSM through the dissemination of role model stories and prevention materials on the CSULB campus and in the community, as well as through a PPOWER website where participants could connect with each other, and engage through blogs and message boards related to the role model stories;
4) conducted screenings for alcohol and drug use among young Black MSM, and provided brief intervention on reduction of substance use;
5) increased access to HIV and HCV testing; and
6) established a continuum of care on and off campus to ensure linkage and quality care for those testing positive for HIV and/or HCV, at risk for other STIs, additional substance abuse treatment, or other supportive services.

Intense young African American man and text graphics about knowing your status

The overall objectives of the PPOWER Project included:

  • Conducting comprehensive needs assessment/community identification (CID) of the young Black MSM at CSULB and the surrounding Long Beach community in the first 6 months of the project.
  • Developed a strategic plan for the three-year project period, informed by the needs assessment and CID that provided strategies and guidance for the project implementation and evaluation.
  • Implemented a community-level substance use and HIV/HCV prevention intervention, PPOWER, utilizing Health Education and Outreach Specialists and Peer Advocates for delivery to Black YMSM on the CSULB campus and in the Long Beach community.
  • Conducted targeted outreach to young Black MSM and their social networks on the CSULB campus and in the surrounding Long Beach communities through the dissemination of role model stories based on life experiences of the Peer Advocates and key informants.
  • Enrolled over 300 young Black MSM and members of their social networks by the end of the 24 month recruitment period.
  • Collected participant data through baseline and follow-up assessment surveys to determine the effectiveness of the intervention.


PPOWER has entered the next phase, Tobacco-Cannabis Intervention for YBMSM, known as PPOWER2. For more information, follow this link.