Using Design Thinking to Curb Teen Pregnancies

photo of participants of training

Written by: Ashley Green (cehdcomm@tamu.edu)
Post date: January 30, 2018

In an effort to curb teen pregnancies, a program in the Department of Health and Kinesiology awarded $80,000 to several groups in North Carolina to make a difference in their community.

Teen pregnancy and childbirth nationally account for more than $9 billion in costs to taxpayers. While the number of teen pregnancies is decreasing, there is concern about a shift because of recent federal funding cuts.

The Innovative Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (iTP3) learned last summer that a $7.5 million grant was being cut two years before expected. Funding will end in June.

To fulfill the remainder of the grant, iTP3 accepted applications for a design thinking workshop held in December. The Rural Opportunity Institute (ROI) in North Carolina was chosen as a host site.

ROI has been working with organizations in the community to advocate for and educate youth.

“We are always looking for new funding and problem-solving approaches for our local organizations. They’ve been serving our community for years but are often overlooked when it comes to receiving resources like this,” explained Vichi Jagannathan, co-founder of ROI.

Over the course of a week, four local organizations participated in training with the iTP3 team. The first day involved information on how to conduct interviews and observations before the participants went out into the field to put their training into action.

On the fourth day, the organizations pitched their idea about how to best develop a program targeted for teen pregnancy prevention to a panel of judges from the community. Two winners were chosen – Project Momentum and Michael’s Angels Girls Club, both of which received $30,000 to further develop their innovative program designed during the training.

Project Momentum’s program is focused on using community health workers to educate parents and youth on sexual health. Michael’s Angels’ program will use a network of advocates in the community to educate youth about healthy relationships.

However, because of the successful presentations and work during the week, the Boys and Girls Club of the Tar River Region and North East Carolina Prep were also given $9,000 each. Those funds will be used to establish and support a local partnership between all four participating organizations.

Project Momentum was given an additional $2,000 to serve as the administrative coordinator for the partnership, with a goal of increasing collaboration across youth-serving organizations in rural eastern North Carolina.

“Our job was to bring the teams to the table and set this all up. Now that it’s in motion, I very much want the teams themselves to take ownership over convening each other, building new partnerships and deciding what steps they’ll take next,” said Vichi.

“It is amazing to see a community like this come together for a common cause. Edgecombe County ranks among the bottom five counties in North Carolina for rates of teen pregnancy. To see the support from the community for these organizations was so promising,” added Jennifer Farmer.

What is iTP3?

Texas A&M’s iTP3 program is one of 84 that received grants under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPP), and just one of two grantees specifically funded to support and enable innovation. TPP is a national, evidence-based program that funds diverse organizations working to prevent teen pregnancy across the United States.

iTP3 supports innovators across the nation to develop bold and creative approaches to teen pregnancy prevention. Together, they are building the next generation of programs to create a fundamental shift in prevention – broadening the focus from individual-level responsibility to systems-level change.