Our Research Focus

Evidence Based Approach

At Awaken Pittsburgh, we’re dedicated to evidence-based programming and open, ongoing measurement of the effectiveness of our work—both through our own findings and in partnership with third-party research groups.

Our Approach

Our Mindful Connections™ curricula, and all programs we deliver, are grounded in the latest scientific studies on the efficacy of mindfulness and meditation training. As we continually measure the effectiveness of our programming, our aim is to use this growing evidence base to design practical, supportive programs that can benefit individuals and, consequently, the entire community. 

Research Collaborations

Before and after our courses, we ask participants to complete standardized assessment surveys designed specifically for adults or youth. Surveying our program participants helps us ensure we are making the difference we set out to make. 

They also help us assess which parts of each program were considered most beneficial and provide us with valuable feedback we can use to further improve our approach and curricula. As often as possible, we carry out follow-up studies to measure the true impact of what we teach.

The findings allow us to measure our impact on key outcomes such as:
  • Self-awareness
  • Stress levels
  • Compassion and burnout
  • Emotional control
  • Secondary traumatic stress

Research Collaborations

We are proud to work with the Health and Human Performance Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University, where ongoing research is being done on our programming. 

Research Collaborations

In 2015, educator and meditation practitioner Dr. Stephanie Romero, Ed.D. founded Awaken Pittsburgh after experiencing two profound awakenings.

The first was in 2013, when Stephanie learned that her teacher, Dr. Adam Lobel, had participated in a peace conference in Chicago where mindfulness and meditative practices were taught to help prevent violence and extract young people from lives of violence.

From Chicago Streets to Pittsburgh Schools

The news that mindfulness could help at-risk youth had a profound impact on Stephanie, who was then developing a dissertation proposal in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. It affirmed the importance of incorporating her own personal practice of mindfulness into her professional life as a scholar, teacher, colleague, and educator. It moved her to revise her dissertation to focus on the topic of mindfulness in education.

We-PEACE Comes into Being

Stephanie’s second awakening grew out of a 3-day conference she attended in May 2014 entitled “Being Brave: Is Enlightened Society Possible?” Stephanie returned to Pittsburgh and worked with another educator, Michelle King, at the Pittsburgh Shambhala Center, to create We-PEACE (Western Pennsylvania Educators for Awareness, Compassion and Empathy). For four years, We-PEACE hosted monthly meetings for interested educators, administrators, and support staff to bring the transformational power of mindfulness to education systems in Western Pennsylvania.

Awaken Pittsburgh is the perfect convergence of people, places and methodologies for the world we live in today.

Results & Impact
Recommended Studies
The Evidence Base for Mindfulness

Research studies on the benefits of mindfulness practice in different settings and for different clinical conditions have been increasing rapidly over the last decade. Overviews of the studies most relevant to our programming are listed here.

Reducing Stress, Anxiety and Depression

Erica M.S. et al. Pediatrics January 2016 Volume 137 Issue 1

Keng SL, Smoski MJ, Robins CJ. Clin Psychol Rev. 2011 Aug;31(6):1041-56.

Goyal M, et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Mar;174(3):357-68.Erica M.S. et al. Pediatrics January 2016 Volume 137 Issue 1

Rodrigues MF, Nardi AE, Levitan M. Trends Psychiatry Psychother. 2017 Jul-Sep;39(3):207-215

Hofmann SG, Gómez AF. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2017 Dec;40(4):739-749.

Ortiz R, Sibinga EM. Children (Basel). 2017 Feb 28;4(3). pii: E16.

Supporting Caring Professionals and Teachers
Supporting Youth

Simpson S, et al. Mindfulness (N Y). 2018;9(5):1330-1343.