HOPE Buffalo – Optimally Changing the MAP for Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Summary: This project aims to increase optimal teen health and reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates for adolescents aged 10-19 in Buffalo, New York.

Opportunity: Buffalo, New York, is consistently identified as one of the poorest cities in the United States. Youth living in Buffalo experience high rates of poverty and food insecurity, are impacted by low grades, test scores, and educational attainment, and are consistently linked to health behaviors including early sexual initiation, violence, and substance use. Youth in three Buffalo communities experience teen pregnancy rates over triple their state and county peers and double that of peers in Buffalo. Simultaneously, these youth experience disproportionally high STI rates.

Initiative: CAI’s HOPE Buffalo project is a community-led movement to reduce teen pregnancy and STI rates. It is a collaboration among diverse stakeholders, including teens and adults, working together to optimize teen health and well-being. CAI serves as the anchor organization, bringing expertise in authentic community engagement, data, training, and capacity building. HOPE Buffalo has developed a four-part plan to achieve optimal teen health: (1) Implement evidence-based curricula for pre-adolescents and adolescents, their parents/caregivers, and providers. The initiative leverages existing school and community structures to ensure that young people receive age-appropriate, sequential, and consistent sexual health education from ages 10-19; (2) Support a referral and care linkage system to identify teens in need and link them to teen-affirming, community-based providers and resources; (3) Use social media and social marketing to promote community awareness and social norms associated with positive youth outcomes; and (4) Facilitate a youth and community-driven approach that empowers and promotes ownership of the plan by the Buffalo community.

Impact: Since 2015, HOPE Buffalo has successfully employed systems change strategies to achieve a collective impact of a 20 percent decrease in teen pregnancy. Moving forward, HOPE Buffalo envisions a project that is sustainable, collaborative, and led by the community. HOPE Buffalo is a tool to help grow a community in Buffalo where youth have strong relationships with caring adults and are prepared for entering the workforce, and where the social norms support reducing teen pregnancy and STIs and working toward optimal teen health outcomes.

Project funder and key partners: This initiative is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Population Affairs. Partners include Buffalo Public Schools, the Erie County Department of Health, and various community-based organizations.

Project website: hopebuffalo.org

Project contact: Louis Dangelo, Jr., Program Manager: hopebuf@caiglobal.org.