Crush Featured by White House: Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color

Date: November 16th, 2015

Friday, November 13th, 2015, the White House Council on Women and Girls released a progress report, Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color as a follow up to the 2014 report, and announced independent commitments to close opportunity gaps faced by women and girls, Below are excerpts from the full White House press release.

As President Obama noted in his speech to the Congressional Black Caucus in September 2015, women and girls of color have made significant progress in recent years. The growth in the number of businesses owned by black women outpaces that of all women-owned firms. Teen births are down, and high school graduation and college enrollment rates are up.  However, opportunity gaps and structural barriers still remain.

…The White House is announcing independent commitments which, include a $100 million, 5-year-funding initiative by Prosperity Together to improve economic prosperity for low-income women.  In addition, we are announcing an $18 million funding commitment by the Collaborative to Advance Equity through Research—an affiliation of American colleges, universities, research organizations, publishers, and public interest institutions led by Wake Forest University—to support existing and new research efforts about women and girls of color.

The Council on Women and Girls has identified five data-driven issue areas where interventions can promote opportunities for success at school, work, and in the community. Continuing research in these areas and exploration of new efforts can help advance equality for women and girls of color.

Sustaining Reduced Rates of Teen Pregnancy and Building on Success

Despite the steady decline of U.S. teen births over the past two decades, minority communities continue to have disproportionately high rates. Black and Latina girls remain more than twice as likely as white girls to become pregnant during adolescence, and American Indian/Alaska Native teen birth rates are one and a half times higher than the white teen birth rate.  We know that opportunity shrinks for teen parents and their children. Only half of all teen mothers receive a high school diploma by age 22. In the aggregate, the children of teen mothers are less likely to complete school and have higher rates of health problems and unemployment. Research by the Brookings Institution also shows that when teens delay birth, the average family income of their offspring increases.  The longer a teen birth is delayed, the larger the average family income of the offspring. The Administration has engaged the following strategies to work to end unplanned teen pregnancy and thus increase both educational and economic opportunity:

Ensuring that evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs reach communities with the greatest need.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) administers the Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program, an evidence-based teen pregnancy program, which enables grantees to replicate evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs in communities with the greatest need. 

In July 2015, OAH awarded 81 new grants, totaling more than $86 million to programs across the country. The grants are focused on reaching young people in communities where high teen pregnancy rates persist. Programs grants were awarded in four categories: (1) community capacity building to support replication of evidence-based TPP programs (especially for populations serving youth in juvenile detention and foster care, homeless youth or young parents); (2) scaling evidence-based TPP programs in communities with the greatest need (including programs that focus on reaching especially vulnerable youth); (3) supporting early innovation to advance adolescent health and prevent teen pregnancy (including technology-based innovations and one grant focused on program innovations) and (4) evaluation of new or innovative approaches to prevent teen pregnancy.

Ensuring that developmentally appropriate information about pregnancy prevention reaches all teens, including in high-need communities.

The Administration recognizes that if information is provided to communities it must be effective for the intended audience.

In September 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Reproductive Health committed $9.75 million to enhance the capacity of publicly-funded health centers’ to provide youth-appropriate sexual and reproductive health services.  CDC has funded a $1 million innovation contract to finalize the development of a mobile app, Crush, which supports pregnancy prevention.

About Crush

Crush is a robust mobile health (mHealth) application with the ultimate intent to reduce pregnancy among Black and Latina adolescent girls.

MetaMedia Training International and Healthy Teen Network developed Crush in 2013-2014 through a Phase I Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) contract funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC has advanced Healthy Teen Network and MetaMedia to SBIR Phase II to finalize Crush in 2015-2016. Read more about Crush in the project summary publication.

Additionally, Healthy Teen Network was recently awarded a grant from the HHS Office of Adolescent Health to adapt Crush for older female teens (18 – 19 years old)—The Pulse Study—and test it through a rigorous  controlled trial during a five-year period (2015 – 2020).

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