This is a Top 5 Research-Based Program that the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Union County helps put into action in our community.

What does Kernels for Life do?  
Teaches strategies to improve the cooperation and performance of young people at home and in the community.


Richly Reinforce Pro-Social Behavior


Humans have always responded to rewarding stimuli. Whether it was early humans learning to hunt and fish or modern humans earning a bonus at work, rewarding behavior encourages hard work and good performance.


Praise Notes • Mystery Motivators


Limit Problematic Behavior


Having clear and stated limits allows humans to operate in a safe, predictable world. When young people are provided with clear limits, they are better able to meet expectations and avoid harsh or unpredictable consequences.


Beat the Timer • Kernels Quiet


Reduce Toxic Influences


Physically or emotionally toxic influences like abuse, neglect, or even overly harsh consequences can be damaging for mental and physical development. Providing young people with protection from these influences and adults with alternatives ensures positive relationships between adults and young people.


Random Sticks • Mending Fences


Increase Psychological Flexibility


Many of the concepts we often expect from people – accountability, respect, responsibility – are actually somewhat difficult to define. By breaking down concepts into clear mutual expectations, adults and young people can get on the same page.


Unified Vision

The Science of Kernels

Adults can provide nurturing environments to young people by using evidence-based kernels as prevention strategies to promote positive relationships with young people. Much like an “active ingredient” is at the heart of the medicine that works, evidence-based kernels are at the heart of what changes our behavior. For example, in our cars, a bell prompts us to put on our seat belts. A stop sign encourages us to stop at an intersection. A speeding ticket may encourage us to slow down. All of these are evidence-based kernels that change our behavior.

Inspired by decades of research from schoolteachers, developmental psychologists, prevention scientists, and age-old cultural wisdom, Kernels have been developed and honed for application with adults and any young person.


Return On Investment

Benefit-Cost Summary Statistics Per Participant

Benefits to:

Taxpayers and Indirects: $2,945

Participants: $4,308

Community: $3,099

Total Benefits – $10,342


Net Program Cost: $161

Benefits Minus Cost: $10,181

Benefit to cost ratio: $64.18

For every $1.00 invested in PAX the community saves $64.00 through a decrease in crime, decrease in K-12 grade repetition, decrease in K-12 special education,

and increase in labor marker earnings, associated with high school graduation.


PAX is in the Top 5 Research-Based Programs Nationwide along with Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Community Coalitions such as Union County Drug Free Coalition.