Teen Dating Violence Grant Recipients Announced

Nov 26, 2008

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has announced the 11 grant recipients of an unprecedented four year initiative. The effort entitled, Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships, will create and evaluate new ways to prevent teen dating violence and abuse. The new nationwide initiative aims to engage 6th to 8th grade youth in efforts to prevent teen dating violence.

The RWJF is making its first investment in the prevention of intimate partner violence to move the issue to the forefront of public health concerns and stimulate new pathways for prevention. With its California partner, Blue Shield of California Foundation, it is investing $18 million in the initiative. With 11 sites around the country, Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships will enable communities to create and evaluate comprehensive models of prevention of this serious public health issue.

The RWJF has selected the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF) to serve as the national program office for the initiative. Working collaboratively with the 11 sites, the FVPF will create a learning community to prevent teen dating violence and sexual abuse, sharing its expertise in leading national initiatives and creating social change, as well as providing guidance and technical assistance to the sites.

Collectively, Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships is comprised of 41 organizations and aims to impact approximately 90,000 youth in more than 400 schools, representing more than 60 school districts. The 11 Building Healthy Teen Relationships sites are:

  • Boston Public Health Commission (Boston’s Health Department), Boston, MA: “Building Healthy Teen Relationship: Boston” Partners: Boston Centers for Youth and Families, Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital, and Roxbury Multi-Service Center;
  • Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, Bronx, NY: “Bronx Partnership for Healthy Adolescent Relationships” (BxPHAR) Partners: NYC Department of Education, Bronx Borough President’s Office, and Sanctuary for Families;
  • Catholic Charities, Wichita, KS: “Wichita Building Healthy Teen Relationship Project” Partners: Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center, Wichita Public School District, Wichita State University Department of Sociology and the Center for Community Support and Research;
  • Clarian Health, Indianapolis, IN: “Building Healthy Teen Relationships” Partners: Ruth Lily Health Education Center, Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, and the Domestic Violence Network of Greater Indianapolis;
  • Emory University, Atlanta, GA: “Celebration” Partners: Grady Hospital and Atlanta Public Schools;
  • Family Violence Law Center, Oakland, CA: “Youth PEERS (Preventing, Engaging Education, Responding, and Supporting) Against Dating Violence” Partners: Youth ALIVE, Youth Radio, and the Oakland Unified School District;
  • Idaho Coalition against Sexual and Domestic Violence, Boise, ID: “Southwest Idaho Building Healthy Teen Relationships Initiative” Partners: St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center and the Idaho Department of Education;
  • Peace Over Violence, Los Angeles, CA: “Teens Over Violence” Partners: Los Angeles Unified School District, University of Southern California Institute for Media Literacy and El Centro del Pueblo;
  • RYASAP, Bridgeport, CT: “MYO: Mine, Yours, and Ours – What’s Right in Relationships” Partners: Greater Bridgeport Pregnancy Prevention Program, Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County, and the Connecticut Area Health Educators Center;
  • SafePlace, Austin, TX: “The Northeast Austin Teen Relationships Project” Partners: Austin Independent School District, Boys and Girls Club of the Capital Area, and Seton Family of Hospitals; and
  • Sojourner House, Providence, RI: “Core Peace Collaborative” Partners: Rhode Island Department of Education and Young Voices.

Each site will work with 6th to 8th grade youth in and out of schools, while utilizing older teens as mentors. Partners will engage and train a range of youth influencers, including older teens, teachers, coaches and parents, among others. Sites will work to address and change policies that reinforce healthy relationships within schools, youth settings, and the larger community. They will also utilize cutting edge social marketing and new media and technology strategies to impact youth, families and influencers in their communities and promote positive relationship behaviors.

“Intimate partner violence is one of the nation’s most serious public health problems. In addition to physically injuring women and men, it undermines the fundamental idea of family as a place of support and nurture. Our health and well being are critically connected to how we live, work, learn and play,” says James Marks, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Vice President and Director, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Group. “Our goal is to discover new public health models that can, of course, prevent relationship violence and even more help our young people build relationships of warmth and mutual support, and that is why the focus on adolescents is essential.”

“Through Building Healthy Teen Relationships, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is making a significant investment in preventing a major public health problem,” said FVPF President Esta Soler. “We are thrilled to be the National Program Office for this initiative, which has extraordinary potential to create tangible breakthroughs for ending teen dating violence and abuse.”

The 11 grant recipients were chosen after a rigorous selection process. Each site, targeting diverse communities, will receive a grant award of up to $1 million dollars over the next four years.


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