for people ages 12-18 (full criteria)
healthy people welcome
at San Francisco, California
study started
estimated completion
William Martinez, PhD



The present study is a randomized control trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a school-based group prevention program (Fuerte) in two San Francisco Unified School District Public Schools. The program targets newcomer Latinx immigrant youth (five years or less post arrival in the U.S.) who are at risk of experiencing traumatic stress. The Fuerte program focuses on increasing youth's mental health literacy, improving their social functioning, and identifying and connecting at-risk youth to specialty mental health services. The program will be implemented by mental health providers from various county community-based organizations, as well as from the SFUSD Wellness Centers, who already offer mental health services in SFUSD schools.

Official Title

Fuerte: Evaluating a School-based Prevention Program for Newcomer Immigrant Youth at Risk for Traumatic Stress


Fuerte is a new prevention program that is being introduced into the mental health system of California in order to reduce behavioral health disparities among Latinx newcomer youth. School-based, preventative programming has been proposed to be the frontline for reducing behavioral health access disparities among Latinx newcomer youth. However, very few evidence-based, selective prevention programs exist that have been tailored to ensure cultural relevance for newcomer Latinx youth with limited English proficiency and low health literacy in under-resourced school settings. Like many urban school districts in California, San Francisco Unified School District is an especially relevant setting for the Fuerte program. The district has a high number of newcomer adolescents, with an average of over 500 newcomer adolescents coming into the school district per year, most from Central America and Mexico.

The Fuerte program promotes interagency and community collaboration with the explicit goals of increasing mental health literacy and service access, as it has been largely enacted through a unique collaboration between the San Francisco Unified School District, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, and the Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco due to their common need for prevention programming for this high-needs population. Much of the curriculum of Fuerte was developed and adapted through feedback from newcomer immigrant youth and their families, as well as providers of the program. In addition, Fuerte's system of care will facilitate the transition to services for these youth to improve their overall functioning, including behavioral health care, medical care, educational, legal, and other social services.

The Fuerte program is designed for youth ages 12 to 18 in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). In order to optimize the exposure of large number of immigrant youth with limited healthcare providers, Fuerte is designed as a group format, each group comprised of 4-8 participants. This has the additional benefit of fostering a sense of community and normalizing the therapeutic process in a supportive group setting. Participants are recruited through referrals from educators and staff in the Wellness Initiative, health centers that are co-located in schools throughout the district. Group leaders are bilingual behavioral health providers from both the school district and community-based organizations with experience working with newcomer Latinx youth.


Trauma, Psychological Mental Disorder in Adolescence Adolescent - Emotional Problem immigration cultural factors prevention Mental Disorders Psychological Trauma Fuerte


You can join if…

Open to people ages 12-18

  • SFUSD High School student
  • 12 to 18 years old
  • Recent Immigrant to the US (within five years of enrollment date)
  • Country of origin is from Spanish-speaking Latin American countries
  • Have not completed a Fuerte group in the past

You CAN'T join if...

Participant does not speak Spanish as a primary language, i.e., their primary language is an indigenous dialect/language.


  • San Francisco Unified School District
    San Francisco California 94114-2614 United States

Lead Scientist

  • William Martinez, PhD
    Assistant Professor, Psychiatry. Authored (or co-authored) 6 research publications


not yet accepting patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Francisco
Study Type
Last Updated