Harnessing Collective Impact to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

While Ready by 21 helps communities implement collective impact strategies across all issues and age groups, those strategies can also be used to address specific issues in a community among specific groups of youth. Just look at Atlanta, where leaders have joined together in a broad-scale Ready by 21 initiative while also addressing individual areas of concern. We invited one of those leaders – Kim Nolte of the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential – to tell you about how collective impact is helping them progress on combating teen pregnancy.

Collective impact is gaining interest across the country as an innovative strategy to solve complex problems that cannot be addressed by individual organizations working in isolation. Can this strategy even help us combat teen pregnancy? Georgia says yes, and is leading the way in showing us how.

Over the past two years, private organizations and public agencies throughout Georgia have been aligning their work under a common framework to make systemic changes in how we do business for young people. As a result, more young people have access to pregnancy prevention programs built on evidence-based practices that work.

I’d like to give you a summary of how we instituted our collective impact strategy and the changes that are occurring because of it.

In June 2011, fourteen organizations formed the Georgia Public Private Partnership for Teen Pregnancy Prevention, which we call P3. The partnership’s members represent state agencies, nonprofits, for-profits, academic institutions and foundations from multiple arenas, including education, child welfare, public health and juvenile justice. P3 is a member of the larger Atlanta Ready By 21 collective impact initiative to make sure children start school ready to learn and graduate prepared for careers, while avoiding risky behaviors that might derail those dreams and aspirations.

We all know that many collaborations produce a lot of talk but not a lot of action. P3 is different. Its members set out on a clear mission: Align the work of major state systems and strengthen the capacity of youth-serving professionals, teachers and clinicians to implement high-quality, evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs and sexual and reproductive health practices.

P3’s achievements in just over two years are unprecedented. It has:

  • Become a vibrant, high-functioning public-private partnership of committed, active organizations.
    • Members developed a charter that laid out not only a mission, vision and goals, but also  roles and responsibilities, levels of participation and guidelines for participation.
    • Members secured funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United Way of Greater Atlanta and the Kendeda Fund to support program management, meeting facilitation, strategic planning, and a pilot program to increase access to sexual and reproductive health care among youth in state custody.
  • Got cross-sector agreement on a goal to reduce teen pregnancy in Georgia by one-third by 2020.
    • Members developed a common strategic plan and implementation plans for five areas of focus: systems change, evidence-based programs, evidence-based clinical practices, shared measures and collaborative/coordinated funding.
    • Members agreed to use shared measures to assess the impact of P3 on achieving this goal.
  • Aligned $6 million in state funding across agencies to support the strategic plan.

These changes are not just about bureaucratic process; teen pregnancy prevention efforts are very different in Georgia now because of P3. Agencies that typically worked in isolation are seeking ways to work together to build capacity and increase services to young people, and are strengthening their internal policies to support P3’s strategy.

Some exciting examples include:

Changes in Agency Internal Policies

  • The Department of Public Health now funds only evidence-based programs to prevent teen pregnancy.
  • Twelve people have been certified to train facilitators on evidence-based curricula, thanks to training by the Department of Public Health and the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential.
  • The Division of Family and Children Services  now provides training to case workers and foster parents on sexual and reproductive health.
  • United Way of Greater Atlanta has aligned its funding to support evidence-based programs among its grantees.

Building Partnerships across Sectors

  • The Division of Family and Children Services and the Department of Juvenile Justice are working together for the first time to provide teen pregnancy prevention programs in juvenile justice facilities.
  • Four P3 members are working together to train youth-serving providers across the state to link young people to health services in their communities.
  • Emory University is working with the Department of Public Health to add the best clinical practices for adolescent sexual and reproductive health into the state’s nursing protocols.

Aligning the work to support best practices 

  • The Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential is helping 140 organizations and schools build capacity to implement evidence-based programs and practices reaching over 20,000 young people each year.
  • Emory University is providing evidence-based sexual and reproductive clinical services to teens in several clinics.

This is just the beginning. P3 is committed to ensuring that young people have access to integrated and coordinated health care that is responsive to their unique needs, and that provides them with the necessary care and information to help them make healthy decisions for their future. Learn more at www.gcapp.org/p3.

Kim Nolte is vice president of programs and training at the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential. She can be reached at kim@gcapp.org.