Evaluating the Progress of Women’s Opportunities

Back in November, The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a new project to collect data that will measure the progress made in the effort to increase the participation of women and girls in political, social, economic and cultural life around the world. The No Ceilings: Full Participation Project will essentially evaluate movement on the goals set forth in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action at its Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. By gathering data, the Foundations and their partners will glean important information about progress made, as well as about areas where more work needs to be done.

As we in the non-profit sector know, evaluation is a critical part of social impact. We can’t really know where we need to go unless we know where we started, and where we are now. This project will yield highly informative data on how the state of women and girls has improved in the 20 years since  the Beijing Declaration. By partnering with technology companies and other organizations, the Foundations will provide advocates around the globe with information they can use to create even more change. Read more about this project, and connect to their blog to be a part of the conversation.

Reproductive Health 101: Webinar Series!

Are you new to teaching sex education, or talking with teens about sexual health? Or maybe you just need a refresher on everything that’s new in the field? Then this webinar series is for you! Over the course of three sessions, we’ll teach reproductive anatomy and physiology, discuss available methods of contraception, and educate you on how teens can prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Part one covers anatomy and physiology, part 2 is on STIs, and part 3 covers contraception methods. You can choose just one of the three, or attend all three for the most comprehensive training!

Part One: Tuesday, February 26thPart Two: Tuesday, March 5th

Part Three: Tuesday, March 12th
All three webinars will be held from 2:30 PM PST – 3:30PM PST


Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now:Part One: Anatomy and Physiology https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8310074046673897216

Part two: Preventing Sexually Transmitted Infections

Part Three: Preventing Unintended Pregnancy


After registering you will be sent to a link to our events page where you can pay for your webinar. Find member and non-member prices and more online now!

2012 Scholarship: Featured Essay #7

Each month on the blog we have featured one of the winning essays from the TeenNow California 2012 Scholarships for pregnant and parenting teens throughout California. The essays are simultaneously inspiring and heartbreaking; each lends insight into trials of adolescent childbearing and the need for continued support for young families. This month is the final installment for the series, as we had 7 winners this year. This month’s featured essay by Yureni Garcia was the Region 8 winner, earning the student $300 towards her education. Garcia plans to study at Palomar College in San Marcos this fall. We wish her the best of luck!! Thank you to TeenNow member Janet Stoddard for sponsoring.

Yureni Garcia

2012 Scholarship: Featured Essay #6

Each month on the blog we will feature one of the eight winning essays from the TeenNow California 2012 Scholarships for pregnant and parenting teens throughout California. The essays are simultaneously inspiring and heartbreaking; each lends insight into trials of adolescent childbearing and the need for continued support for young families. This month’s featured essay by Jakari Peet was the Region 7 winner, earning the student $300 towards her education. Peet plans to study at San Bernardino Valley College this fall. We wish her the best of luck!! Thank you to TeenNow member Stephanie Downing-Cornwell for sponsoring.

Jakari Peet

2012 Scholarship: Featured Essay #5

Each month on the blog we will feature one of the eight winning essays from the TeenNow California 2012 Scholarships for pregnant and parenting teens throughout California. The essays are simultaneously inspiring and heartbreaking; each lends insight into trials of adolescent childbearing and the need for continued support for young families. This month’s featured essay by Nancy Gutierrez was the Region 6 winner, earning the student $300 towards her education. Gutierrez plans to study at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA this fall. We wish her the best of luck!! Thank you to TeenNow member Elena Luna for sponsoring.

Nancy Gutierrez

Interview with Dr. Tamu Nolfo, Alliance for CLAS–FREE Services!

Explanation of Benefits: FREE Services for Organizations to Ensure Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services

An interview with Tamu Nolfo from ONTRACK Program Resources

What is CLAS? Community Alliance for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS). CLAS offers a completely free service funded by the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs to help organizations improve outcomes around cultural competency with the end goal of reducing disparities.

Why CLAS? Organizations are encouraged to take advantage of this service because not only is it imperative that organizations offer culturally and linguistically appropriate services for clients and students, but with health care reform and other changes promoting integration, organizations are expected to be aligned with the 14 federal CLAS standards. Additionally, funders are putting cultural and linguistic requirements into contract language; organizations need to be aligned with the CLAS standards in order to meet these contract obligations and to open up opportunities to partner with primary care providers and “move into the future” of funding.

How can CLAS help my organization? CLAS services include several elements. Some organizations are recognizing there may be changes in demographics of the populations they’re serving: an organization may have started out serving one demographic, primarily straight African-American individuals for example, and are now serving more Hmong, Russian, or LGBT individuals of all backgrounds. The consultants at CLAS have expertise in specific areas and can assist organizations in figuring out what cultural and linguistic training is appropriate for current services provided. CLAS consultants look at organizations’ workforce and ask if they have the right people providing services, the right training, and even the right volunteer linkages to provide the most appropriate services. CLAS services can help with data collection. CLAS can help your organization look at the demographics of the community it is serving and see if you are in fact serving who you should be serving. If, for example, your organization has a goal to help young women who are pregnant not get pregnant again within 5 years, CLAS can help find out if there are disparities in services among ethnic groups. CLAS can also help organizations with client satisfaction surveys, finding out if clients are equally happy or if there are differences in client satisfaction based on culture or language.

How does my organization go about getting CLAS services? CLAS’s services are FREE! Interested organizations fill out a very short application online and will be contacted by CLAS for a detailed assessment. After a coaching call, CLAS will create a tailored technical assistance plan of action with your organization. Your organization will be matched with a consultant who will go to you for on-site training and consultation (all paid for!). Each site is eligible for free, tailored services (this means that if your organization is working with three schools, each school is eligible). CLAS offers certification for services, which can be helpful for funding purposes. CLAS services are available on a first come, first serve basis.

For further information, check out the CLAS website: www.allianceforclas.org or contact Tamu Nolfo at tnolfo@ontrackconsulting.org (ONTRACK Program Resources is the organization that manages the contract)

Not sure what cultural competency means? Want to learn more? Watch Dr. Tamu Nolfo explain in this great video! What is cultural competency?

Check out the benefits of CLAS here: CLAS Flyer 2012

Call for Videos, Photos, and Testimonials – Your 30 seconds of FAME!

Hello valued members!  We are putting together a short “ask” film to be used to raise funds for Teen Now California’s many projects such as, teen parent scholarship program, advocacy efforts, technical assistance and more. If your membership to our organization has been helpful to you in your work, we want to hear from you! We are looking for short and concise testimonials on your work in teen pregnancy prevention, membership experience or how TeenNow California supports you in the work you do. We are accepting any footage you feel could be used for this purpose even if you’ve used it for your agency programs (please ask permission to share it). You may use your smartphone, computer webcam, or personal camcorder for submissions. Record  a personal testimonial, a group of colleagues, or students you work with and are willing to contribute for their 30 seconds of fame! Photos and written testimonials are also very helpful and may be included in the video. We prefer videos in MP.4 format, but any format or link is fine. Thank you in advance for your time and assistance! Please email materials to lschmidt@teennowcalifornia.org by August 24th. Enjoy your next webinar on us if your submission is used in our video! Thanks again for your commitment to this work and support of our mission to increase the knowledge, skills and resources of individuals concerned with preventing teen pregnancy, supporting young families, and promoting adolescent sexual health.

Text Messaging and Teen Pregnancy Prevention: A Win-Win Intervention

Text Messaging and Teen Pregnancy Prevention: A Win-Win Intervention

By Tiffany M. Montgomery, MSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM, TeenNow California Member

Teen pregnancy is a health disparity that affects an exceptionally vulnerable population. Teen girls with ethnic minority backgrounds are doubly vulnerable. Because of their gender, age, and minority status, these teens are vulnerable on many different fronts. There have been many successful teen pregnancy prevention programs implemented and to their success, the teen pregnancy rates are continuing to decline. Still, healthcare professionals, parents, teachers, and other adults who often interact with teens have a lot of work to do in the area of teen pregnancy prevention. Although our rates of teen pregnancy are the lowest in United States history, we continue to have the second highest teen pregnancy rates in the industrialized world (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2011a).

The CDC (2011b) has initiated a campaign to utilize social media as a forum for communication about teen pregnancy and increased public engagement. There are recommendations for the use of Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds, podcasts, online video sharing, and mobile technologies (i.e. text messaging and mobile applications [apps]) as teen pregnancy prevention interventions, in addition the use of social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. The CDC’s support of technology in teen pregnancy prevention interventions makes complete sense once we realize just how popular technology has become among teens.

According to a 2010 report on adolescent cell phone use, 88% of teens with cell phones use their phones for text messaging (Lenhart). The rates of text messaging increase with age and are higher among teen girls than among teen boys; the mean number of text messages sent and received by teen girls is 125 texts per day while teen boys text on average 101 times daily (Lenhart, 2010). African-American teens have the highest rates of text messaging in the U.S., followed by Hispanic teens and non-Hispanic White teens (Lenhart, 2010). As it relates to teen pregnancy, Hispanic teens have the highest rates, followed by African-American teens and non-Hispanic White teens (Pazol et al., 2011). The high rates of teen pregnancy among Hispanic, African-American, and non-Hispanic White teens in conjunction with their high rates of text messaging present the perfect rationale for the use of text messaging as an intervention to decrease teen pregnancy.

In the state of North Carolina, the BrdsNBz text messaging program was established in 2009 to provide adolescents ages 14- to 19-years-old with medically sound information pertaining to their sexual health (Phillips, 2010). The aim of the program is to increase teens’ knowledge, awareness, and quality of life through the reduction of unintended pregnancies and STDs (Phillips, 2010). Teens initiate the first text message and a representative from the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of Northern Carolina responds within 24 hours. The program is advertised on various teen health websites and through purchased advertisements on MySpace and non-profit organizations. The program, one of the only of its kind at its inception, has received national attention from those who would like to replicate the program in their own states or regions (Phillips, 2010). Findings from formative program studies showed that teens were more likely to follow-up on information received through the BrdsNBz program than information received from school, home, or the community (Phillips, 2010).

Since the creation of the BrdsNBz text messaging program, many other text messaging programs have been implemented to combat high-risk teen sexual behaviors in general and more specifically to target teen pregnancy:

  • Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy—text “SEX” to 30644 to receive a response to your questions on sex, relationships, and teen pregnancy within 24 hours.
  • BrdsNBz—text a question regarding sex and relationships to 36263. Be sure to type “NC” before your question.
  • Hookup—text “HOOKUP” to 61827 to receive weekly automated text messages containing information on sex and life and to find a sexual health clinic in your zip code.
  • SexInfo—text “SEXINFO” to 36617 to receive a list of codes to text back based on the topic of concern.
  • The SexEd Loop—text “SEXEDLOOP” to 61827 to receive weekly text messages on sexual education.

Text messaging services can be accessed anywhere at any time and they are virtually cost-free (normal text messaging rates will apply). These programs, located throughout the U.S. are available for the use of teens in any region of the country and not only those who live in the state in which the program headquarters are located. When teens feel they can’t come to the adults in their lives, we can point them in the direction of services that can help them with their questions and not simply leave them to figure everything out on their own. We can encourage teens to utilize the programs above and other reputable text messages services so that they receive accurate information on teen pregnancy and pregnancy prevention. Through the use of text messages programs that address sexual health, we can be confident that the teens in our lives are receiving the appropriate information, even when that information does not come directly from us.


Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campiagn on North Carolina. (2012). BrdsNBz text message warm line. Retrieved from http://appcnc.org/brdsnbz-text-message-warm-line

Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy. (2012). About ACAP: Text message line. Retrieved from http://keepit360.org/About/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011a). Health disparities and inequalities report. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/minorityhealth/CHDIReport.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011b). Teen pregnancy and socail media. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/TeenPregnancy/SocialMedia/index.htm

Internet Sexuality Inormation Services. (2012). ISIS projects. Retrieved from http://www.isis-inc.org/contactus.php

Lenhart, A. (2010). Teens and cell phones. Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved from http://pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2010/PIP-Teens-and-Mobile-2010-with-topline.pdf

Pazol, K., Warner, L., Gavin, L., Callaaghan, W. M., Spitz, A. M., Anderson, . . . Kann, L. (2011). Vital signs: Teen pregnancy — United States, 1991–2009 (Vol. 60, pp. 414-420).

Phillips, K. R. (2010). BrdsNBz: a text-messaging forum for improving the sexual health of          adolescents in North Carolina. North Carolina Medical Journal, 71(4), 368-371.

The SexEd Loop. The talk: By teens, for teens. Retrieved from http://sexedloop.sexetc.org/

Drawing Attention to the Urgency of Teen Dating Violence Prevention

Drawing Attention to the Urgency of Teen Dating Violence Prevention

by Lisa Fujie Parks, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence

Five days before Cindi Santana was stabbed to death at South East High School in South Gate, California in December 2011, her ex-boyfriend, Abraham Lopez, was arrested for making a criminal threat against her. Santana’s mother notified South East High School when Lopez was released on bail, and campus security was informed of the potential threat. Yet three days later, Cindi was stabbed multiple times during lunch, allegedly by Lopez. Cindi’s death was a tragic wakeup call to all families, schools and communities in California to strengthen school and community responses to teen dating violence, also known as dating abuse.


February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAPM) – a national effort to raise awareness about abuse in youth relationships and mobilize communities to support young people in having safe and healthy relationships. Sadly, just as the month began, Myrna Umanzor, 15, a teen mom from San Leandro, California was murdered, allegedly by her 19 year old boyfriend, who took his own life the next day.


We mourn the tragic loss of life in South Gate, San Leandro, and other communities throughout the country, as we join with thousands working to engage youth and reach new audiences through Proclamations, educational events, media outreach, and other efforts. Although we cannot accomplish all of our strategic goals in one short month, these focused efforts will help elevate community understanding of the issues and solutions.


What is dating abuse?

Dating abuse is the use of physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, or technological abuse by a person to harm, threaten, intimidate, or control a dating partner, regardless of whether that relationship is continuing or has concluded, or the number of interactions between the individuals involved. One in four adolescents reports verbal, emotional, physical or sexual dating violence each year. 15-40% of youth report perpetrating violence toward a dating partner. Adolescents and young adults experience the highest degree of intimate violence of any age group, and young women ages 16-24 are most likely to be victimized. Among these women, pregnant and parenting teen mothers are especially vulnerable.


Dating abuse is associated with a host of adverse outcomes, including truancy, use of alcohol and drugs, eating disorders, depression and suicide. A substantial number of incidents occur on school campuses, threatening the safety of students and staff, distracting students from learning, and compromising the school climate. Yet, the distinctive aspects of dating abuse make it one of the most overlooked forms of violence. Many young victims do not recognize warning signs and confuse controlling behaviors as a sign of care. Fear and shame discourage victims from seeking help, and when they do, adults often minimize the potential for harm, unaware of the danger of increasing frequency and severity of abuse over time, and the heightened risk for physical violence during or after a break up.


Offering age-appropriate support

Young people who are being abused or being abusive, may not identify their experience as “abuse.” Conversations can be focused on the right to have boundaries respected and to be free from control. And conversely, it’s important to model and teach how emotions and conflict can be addressed while respecting boundaries and the right to a partner’s autonomy. When speaking with teens, it’s important to assure confidentiality, be non-judgmental and empathetic, apply harm reduction principles, and have current information for referral agencies and community resources on hand. And remember, during and after a break-up is the most dangerous time when the likelihood of physical violence increases.


What you can do during TDVAPM

Please use this month as an opportunity to build your knowledge, strengthen partnerships and help draw attention to dating abuse:


  • Spread the word! Sample Facebook posts and Twitter tweets can be found at www.cpedv.org/tdvapm.
  • Build your knowledge! Online professional learning opportunities during the month of February can be found here. Additional resources can be found on the Healthy Teen Network website.
  • Link to Black History Month! African American youth are overrepresented as victims of dating abuse. Honor Black History Month and TDVAPM and support our back youth in February and beyond!
  • Educate and engage teens and parents! Useful websites with resources and curriculum can be found at www.cpedv.org/tdvapm.
  • Strengthen partnerships! Year round, we encourage teen pregnancy prevention programs to partner with local domestic violence programs and adolescent health and mental health providers, youth, parents, educators and other stakeholders.
  • Stay Connected! Sign up for the Partnership’s Prevention Digest to stay abreast of teen dating violence prevention projects, resources and opportunities in California.


The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence’s Prevention Program advances effective teen dating violence prevention policies and programs through leadership, advocacy and a statewide network of prevention advocates dedicated to promoting healthy relationships and preventing teen dating violence. For more information about the Partnership’s efforts to address dating abuse, please contact Lisa Fujie Parks at lisa@cpedv.org or 916-444-7163 x117.


Finally, if you know of a teen or parent that could benefit from speaking to a caring, well-trained peer advocate, please connect them with the National Dating Abuse Helpline, a  project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, at 866-331-9474 (TTY: 1-866-331-8453), by texting “loveis” to 77054, or through live chat at loveisrespect.org.  

“Let’s Talk About Sex!”–Film Review

Let’s Talk About Sex

Film reviewed by Lena Schmidt

Sex is part of our culture, especially youth culture. Sexual imagery is inescapable:  billboards, magazine covers, movies, and Internet ads inundate us with it. But we’re still not supposed to talk about it. The new documentary, “Let’s Talk About Sex” by James Houston addresses this conundrum with the central question, “if sex is everywhere, but it is taboo to talk about, what effect is it having on young people?” Houston uses interesting interviews, engaging graphics, and alarming data to show that teens are paying a terrible price for this confusion, fear, and silence around sex and sexuality in US culture: increasing rates of unintended pregnancy, STDs, and HIV. And American taxpayers are paying billions of dollars to treat these preventable problems.

According to the film, 70% of Americans have had sex by the time they’re 19.  95% of Americans have sex before they’re married. The US government has spent $1.5 billion on abstinence-only education and yet the US has the highest teen birth rate in the industrialized world. 85% of parents in America want comprehensive sex education for their children; it is a small but vocal minority that is deeply opposed. Houston talks to teens, parents, teachers, doctors, faith leaders, linguists, researchers, and college students who agree that withholding information from young people does not protect them. As the film states, in the US, “teens are thought of as accidents waiting to happen—driven by raging hormones—[and] in some ways it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.” One concerned parent says, “We teach our kids math, reading, science, but we don’t teach them about their body and how to be responsible…sex is as much a part of life as algebra or English.” Houston advocates starting conversations to change outdated attitudes about sex.

These conversations may need to take place in surprising venues. African-American contributors in the documentary explain that in the same way that the church was involved with abolishing slavery, the end of segregation, and the civil rights movement, it needs to continue to address the needs of the time, which means talking about sex in church. African-American communities often demonstrate high rates of teen pregnancy, and although African Americans make up only 15% of the US, they make up 50% of all new HIV infections. The film makes it difficult to argue with the fact that talking about sex will save lives.

The film brilliantly compares European and American attitudes about sexuality and sex education. In Holland/the Netherlands sex is discussed as a natural part of a relationship and as a way to express love. One mom in Holland says, “Kids have sex. If they don’t have sex in the bedroom they’ll probably have sex in the street or in the park.” This mom even offers her own condoms to her son to use. This and other examples (and the statistics presented about teen pregnancy rates) demonstrate that abstinence-only education is insufficient in protecting our teens. Some highlights of the film include: a classroom of expectant teens being taught abstinence-only education despite the clear evidence that it wasn’t relevant to their lives, a teacher putting a condom over her hand all the way to her elbow to rebut the myth that size matters, and the disparate attitudes teens have in the US and the Netherlands about young women and men who carry condoms in their wallets.

This film is recommended and appropriate for parents, teens, and educators. It is a great conversation starter—watch it today and start talking. Let’s talk about sex! To learn more about the film and resources, check out the film’s website: http://www.letstalkaboutsexthefilm.com/ The film was made in collaboration with http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/  To talk about sex and sex education in California, become a member of TeenNow California: http://teennowcalifornia.org/Join.php