Stronger Together Southwest Georgia: Innovations For YOUth, With YOUth

Angela Johnson, MBA, Public Administration, Albany State University, Albany, GA


Stronger Together is funded through the Health and Human Services Office of Population Affairs (OPA) Tier II Teen Pregnancy Prevention Innovation Funding. The funding is to support the exploration, development, and testing of innovations relating to teen pregnancy prevention, STI reduction, and optimal health. The target population for this project is expectant and parenting youth. This includes male and female expectant and parenting youth ages 15-19 (expanded to age 24). The target population also includes their support systems such as parents/caregivers, siblings, peers, youth serving professionals. The goal of Stronger Together is build a Multidisciplinary, Innovative Network of Community Partners in the 18 counties of Southwest Georgia, through the creation of Action Councils comprised of expectant and parenting youth and community partners, which will develop locally- owned and governed innovative, expanded, and/or enhanced projects to meet the needs of expectant and parenting teens (ages 15-19) and those who support them, reduce repeat pregnancies, reduce STIs, and improve optimal health of teens.

Program background:

Program objectives include building new partnerships and communication networks; increasing knowledge about expectant and parenting youth; facilitating the creation of Action Councils with youth and adults as equal partners; bringing training from the Radical Partners to the region in the areas of neuroscience, trauma and stress impact, community-building, innovation processes, model programs, and collective impact processes; and supporting the creation, implementation, and evaluation of Innovative Projects that focus on the needs of Expectant and Parenting Youth. While many projects were developed, two were chosen by OPA to continue to the testing and refinement phase. Those were the Healthy Influential Parents (HIP) App and the Network of Trust Video Project.

Evaluation Methods and Results:

Stronger Together participated in process evaluation throughout the project. This involved collecting qualitative and quantitative data from Action Councils, Community members, innovative and community partners, expectant and parenting teens, and their support network. Youth and parents/caregivers were included in the process as members of the action councils and in development of the innovations. Innovations are currently in the testing and refinement phase and completing pilot program testing. Results of the pilot studies should be available to share at the conference.


Young parents shared with us that they often don’t access needed services because they feel intimidated, judged, or don’t find the service or support to be relevant to them. Inclusion of expectant and parenting youth throughout the entire process of exploration and development process was essential to ensuring that the innovative interventions were culturally and linguistically relevant, age appropriate, and resonated with the target audience.

Implications for research and/or practice:

Expectant and parenting youth need adults to communicate in a calm and positive way when addressing teen pregnancy.

Expectant and parenting youth can offer a lot of insight and knowledge about their circumstances and needs, however trust and rapport must be built first.

Expectant and parenting youth are a difficult demographic to reach, traditional methods are not effective. Researchers and practitioners must employ new strategies to reach, engage, and retain this population.