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Looking Back and Moving Forward: 1B successes and future endeavors

Since 2015, Fact Forward has worked in Aiken, Anderson and Orangeburg Counties through the Office of Population Affairs 1B Grant, “Expanding the Reach of Effective Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs in High Need SC Counties.” Now that this project is nearing its end and new projects are beginning, Fact Forward is looking back at the success of this initiative. 

At its inception, the Expanding the Reach project aimed to work with local organizations in the above counties with teen birth rates above the national rate. In all three counties, evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs were implemented in middle schools, high schools, and DHEC offices. Additional settings like alternative schools, domestic violence centers and foster homes were also involved in programming.

A picture from the Expanding the Reach All Partner Sustainability Meeting. This meeting allowed for for school, clinical, and community based organizations to share effective strategies for sustaining their teen pregnancy prevention programs after the grant ends. Taken February 2020. 
A picture from the Expanding the Reach All Partner Sustainability Meeting.  Taken February 2020. 

These evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs were not one-size-fits-all, and each site chose a curriculum that best suited their youth and community. Youth-serving professionals from each site were trained in whichever curriculum they chose to implement, then they began implementation within their organization. Teachers and facilitators were trained to deliver the curricula using a trauma informed approach and LGBTQ best practices. The curricula focused on skill building activities to help youth make the best decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. Much of the chosen curricula include content to encourage communication between youth and a parent or other trusted adult.

Lori Secrist, Ed.S., District Health Coordinator who implemented in Aiken County Public School District, says “The Fact Forward grant really helped our curriculum for reproductive health become relevant to students and up to date. It provided for carefully crafted conversation and learning opportunities for our students. Continuous student feedback indicates the positive impact for students to follow their goals and an Increase in knowledge gained for student empowerment.

Each year of the project we tracked data to improve the next year. Now that we’re near the end of the project, this data shows us the impact Expanding the Reach had in Aiken, Anderson and Orangeburg Counties. After going through a semester of programming, 86 percent of surveyed high schoolers said that this program has made them more likely to use or ask their partner to use a condom if they were to have sex in the next three months. Of the surveyed middle schoolers, 93 percent agreed that they knew how to refuse participating in something they did not want to do.

“Being a partner on this grant with Fact Forward has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career.  It had such a positive impact on our youth and staff at New Foundations,” Katrina Upton, M.Ed., RN, Registered Nurse & Clinical Therapist at New Foundations Home for Children, said. “Our youth are now empowered with the facts so they can make informed decisions about their reproductive health. I would sign on for another 5 years in a heartbeat.”

The impact of COVID-19 has hindered our ability to effectively evaluate and close out the project. Though the grant was meant to end in June 2020, we were given a no cost extension by our funder, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Population Affairs (OPA). This no cost extension will allow us an additional year to complete final activities. We will use this time to complete valuable evaluation activities, like Ripple Effects Mapping. This process is a way for us to explore overall changes that have taken place in Aiken, Anderson and Orangeburg Counties since the beginning of the program. By the end of the process, we’ll be able to share with you how the Expanding the Reach project impacted these counties’ social, cultural, human, and political capital as it relates to adolescent health.

Fact Forward is proud to look back on such a successful and impactful program; the ripple effects map will further illustrate the scope and reach of the project. We look forward to releasing that for your viewing in Spring 2021. We are also proud to mention that although this project in Aiken, Anderson and Orangeburg is ending, Fact Forward is continuing our work in these counties through new grants from the OPA.

Our newly funded project, "Expanding Opportunities for Teen Mothers and Families in South Carolina” aims to reduce rapid repeat pregnancies, STIs and improve economic stability among teen mothers (ages 15-19) in high need zip codes located in Aiken and Anderson Counties. Another newly funded project of ours, “emPOWERed SC: Creating Linkages for Youth of Color in South Carolina” will establish innovation networks throughout two South Carolina counties: Orangeburg and Richland. This network will include high schools, historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), local health departments (Title X clinic) and/or federally qualified health centers, community-based organizations, local businesses, parents and other youth-supporting adults.

If you have questions about any of these projects, contact communications@factforward.org. If you want to be the first to know when the ripple effects map goes live, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Funding for Tier 1B Expanding the Reach provided by US DHHS OPA grant 5 TP1AH000126-05-00 CFDA 93.297 - Adolescent Health Programs

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