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Abstract Design

Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago

Building a new program to expand adolescent substance use prevention services

The Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago (PHIMC) is committed to advancing health justice and strengthening public health through innovation and partnerships. In May 2023, they began work to create a new program in Chicago, as part of a statewide initiative which expands substance use prevention services for adolescents through partnerships with existing youth programming across Chicago. They engaged FQA Institute for Social Impact to perform a landscape analysis that will inform the design of this new program.

About PHIMC 

PHIMC believes that the greatest possibilities for public health can be achieved when organizations work together to bridge gaps, share resources, and address oppressive policies. To this end, PHIMC partners with other organizations in Illinois, providing support through organizational development, systems transformation, fiscal management, and program implementation to help solidify the public health infrastructure. Their impact spans a wide variety of areas, such as HIV/AIDS prevention and service coordination; substance use prevention and treatment access; school healthcare access; emergency preparedness planning; and wellness policy development and implementation.


In their substance use related work, PHIMC employs a harm reduction framework and partners with direct service providers to integrate strategies for safer substance use, address mental health and trauma, and incorporate a non-judgmental approach. Inclusive partnerships, exemplified by initiatives like Opioid-Impacted Family Support, prioritize the voices of those most affected to shape program development and build upon past successes, such as the Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances and medication-assisted treatment program support. PHIMC was selected by the Illinois Department of Human Services to set up a Regional Substance Use Prevention Integration Center (RSUPIC) for Chicago, alongside other agencies in different regions across the state. With their new RSUPIC, PHIMC seeks to harmonize substance use prevention efforts with other youth-focused prevention initiatives, spanning HIV, pregnancy, violence, suicide, and bullying, among others. By doing so, PHIMC aims to enhance organizational capabilities to address substance use and misuse among adolescents.

“FQA Institute not only provided excellent service, but they were very intentional with each step of the project. Providing a high level end product that was crucial in informing the next steps for the RSUPIC program. The staff was friendly and offered great insight throughout the entire process. I enjoyed how effortless it was to collaborate and move the project forward. FQA’s guidance and assistance was elite, I would love to work the team again!”

James Lones, Program Manager of RSUPIC - Youth Substance Use Prevention 


“FQA Institute was incredibly knowledgeable and responsive to our needs. We had frequent check-ins where we had the opportunity to review draft materials, provide feedback, and ask questions. Everything felt really seamless, and they were committed to delivering a final product that met our needs. We would 100% work with them again and refer them to others.” 

Meghana Menon, Director of Adolescent and School Health

FQA Institute and PHIMC's collaborative approach

Step 1 – Discovery. The project began with collaborative discussions between the PHIMC and FQA Institute team to align on scope questions and research design. We conducted initial research on adolescent substance use and prevention best practices, laying the groundwork for the landscape analysis.

Step 2 – Data Collection. The subsequent phase involved rigorous secondary research, deriving insights on 125 organizations that provide a wide variety of adolescent prevention services, including substance use, HIV, violence, mental health, and pregnancy. We also conducted primary research via a series of interviews and a targeted focus group discussion with representatives from 12 organizations. The primary and secondary research provided a strong foundation for understanding and informed interactive sessions with PHIMC leadership.

Step 3 – Synthesis. In the synthesis phase, we held a series of reflection sessions with the PHIMC team to discuss current gaps in the substance use prevention landscape in Chicago and to identify ways that PHIMC can help fill those gaps as part of their new program. This process harmonized insights with strategic intent, resulting in a final report with decision-making criteria that will guide PHIMC’s approach to expanding adolescent substance use prevention services.

In pursuit of their overarching vision to enhance the integration of adolescent substance use and misuse prevention services, PHIMC engaged the FQA Institute team from May to August 2023. The project was divided into three phases: discovery, data collection, and synthesis. As an outcome of the engagement, FQA Institute provided a detailed landscape analysis of 125 organizations in Chicago, a corresponding geographic map, and a comprehensive final report to inform the new program’s design. Throughout the project, PHIMC and FQA Institute worked collaboratively and met regularly, discussing early insights and brainstorming ideas for the new program.

We are grateful for the opportunity to support PHIMC as they work to transform adolescent substance use prevention services across Chicago.

 To learn more about PHIMC, please visit their website and check out their work in Chicago's  School Health Access Collaborative.

 To learn more about FQA Institute for Social Impact, please visit our services page or contact us via email

“I appreciated the way that FQA Institute presented information to us throughout. It should have felt like we were drinking from a fire hose; instead, it felt logical and digestible. I liked the pacing and depth. I really enjoyed working with them. Just lovely humans.”

Annette Rizzo, Interim Chief Program Officer

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