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NCAA CHOICES Alcohol Education Grant Program History

Prepared by David S. Anderson, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Education and Human Development, George Mason University
Evaluation Consultant, NCAA CHOICES Program

Three decades ago, the NCAA embarked on a journey inspired by a vision of helping college campuses reduce problems associated with students’ misuse of alcohol. Recommendations from the NCAA Foundation’s Alcohol Education Task Force in 1990 identified college-focused grants as a helpful strategy; this resulted in the CHOICES program. The unique role that athletics departments could play in helping influence the campus culture around alcohol was central to these efforts. Further, the view was that athletics departments and student-athletes could be instrumental in shaping positive messages about alcohol. The Anheuser-Busch Cos. provided initial funding and subsequent gifts to fund these campus grants. 

With experience at over 250 colleges and universities in all divisions, the CHOICES grant program is ending in 2022. Whether based in the athletics department (as one-third now are) or elsewhere on campus (wellness, student life or academics), the outcomes resulting directly from the CHOICES program have been quite positive. The lessons learned are worth sharing, as all NCAA schools, as well as other institutions of higher education, can benefit from the insights and recommendations from these varied and impactful projects. 

The following 10 items emerge from these CHOICES grants as ingredients for success and can be applied at any college or university seeking to affect alcohol misuse issues. 

  1. Build the campus effort based on local needs, issues and history.
  2. Have clear grounding in evidence-based practices, such as theoretical frameworks, best practices and local needs assessments.
  3. Promote collaboration across campus by identifying areas where different units have strengths; partner and enhance others’ efforts. 
  4. Actively engage students (student-athletes, student leaders or student organizations) in planning and implementation. Their voices resonate well as focus group participants, organizers, spokespersons and sponsors.
  5. Participate in the APPLE Training Institute. This helps campus teams get organized, create appropriate visions and prepare practical plans. 
  6. Be bold, creative and clear with marketing and communication, including awareness campaigns and public service announcements. Consider involving professional marketing personnel, class projects and student group competition for development. 
  7. Engage in quality planning and documentation, which helps with collective buy-in and aids with staff and student turnover. 
  8. Incorporate evaluation and metrics to review achievements and opportunities for improvement. Consider reviewing reduction of alcohol-related harm, increased bystander interventions, corrected misperceptions of knowledge, and enhanced confidence of coaches and others communicating about alcohol-related issues. 
  9. Engage others and use resources developed with CHOICES and elsewhere. Best of CHOICES reviewed these projects after 20 years, and the IMPACT Evaluation Resource aids with evaluation and planning. 
  10. Use leverage to achieve collaboration and visibility. The NCAA-based program provided substantive influence; leverage the CHOICES program’s history and successes, as well as dedicated campus or donor funding, to promote locally appropriate initiatives. 

Through working collaboratively with shared visions and thoughtful planning, athletics, student affairs, faculty and other campus leaders can harness positive influences in making a difference on the campus.

Additional resources and information may be found in the CHOICES Resources box on the right-hand side of the page.


The NCAA CHOICES Alcohol Education Grant Program has completed its cycle. Thank you for your interest in the program