News: County teen pregnancy prevention program gets $7.5 million grant to continue, expand work

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Mike Opat, Hennepin County commissioner, 612-348-7881

Katherine Meerse, Better Together Hennepin manager, 612-596-0996

Maria Elena Baca, Communications, 612-348-7865

News release 

Successful teen pregnancy prevention program receives $7.5 million grant

The Better Together Hennepin initiative to reduce teen pregnancies has been named as a recipient of a five-year, $7.5 million federal grant to continue and expand successful, evidence-based programming to prevent teen pregnancies.

From the time the program started in 2007 through the end of 2013, teen pregnancies in Hennepin County plummeted by nearly 50 percent.

“This grant recognizes our wonderful progress over the past five years and affirms that there is still much work to do,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat. “ Preventing teen pregnancy is vital to Hennepin County’s vision of a future where our citizens are healthy and successful. With this funding, we will continue to fulfill that vision.”

Better Together Hennepin is among 81 nonprofit organizations, school districts, local government agencies and others receiving grants totaling more than $86 million.

Programming for education, better health

Better Together Hennepin and its partners in schools and clinics uses evidence-based programming to increase young people’s access to high quality sex ed and reproductive health care, and works to create youth development opportunities and nurture connections to caring adults.

“Everyone benefits when young people wait until they are adults to become parents,” said Katherine Meerse, Better Together Hennepin program manager. “Young people who postpone parenthood are more likely to finish high school and become contributing members of the workforce. Children born to adults are more likely to have a healthy birth weight and be prepared for school. Taxpayers profit from reduced welfare rolls and less spending on publically funded medical care.” 

Focusing work where it's needed most

Hennepin County uses GIS data to track where teens are giving birth. Better Together Hennepin focuses resources in those areas of the county that have the highest concentrations of teen pregnancies -- Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Central and North Minneapolis, Richfield and Robbinsdale. 

With the funding in hand, the program will implement the It’s OUR Future project, which aims to reduce teen birth rates by an additional 30 percent by 2020. The federal program replicates current successful local initiatives and brings new programming to Hennepin County schools and clinics. The project  is expected to reach about 32,665 young people over the next five years.

For more information, visit the Better Together Hennepin webpage.


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