This research examines the early development of community teams in a specific university-community partnership project called PROSPER (Spoth et al., Prev Sci 5:31-39, 2004). PROSPER supports local community teams in rural areas and small towns to implement evidence-based programs intended to support positive youth development and reduce early substance use. The study evaluated 14 community teams and included longitudinal data from 108 team members. Specifically, it examined how community demographics and team member characteristics, perceptions, and attitudes at initial team formation were related to local team functioning 6 months later, when teams were planning for prevention program implementation. Findings indicate that community demographics (poverty), perceived community readiness, characteristics of local team members (previous collaborative experience) and attitudes toward prevention played a substantial role in predicting the quality of community team functioning 6 months later. EDITORS' STRATEGIC IMPLICATIONS: The authors identify barriers to successful long-term implementation of prevention programs and add to a small, but important, longitudinal research knowledge base related to community coalitions.