Grantee Spotlight from DC

Expectant and Parenting Teens Driving Change: A Collective Impact Approach in Washington, D.C.


DC NEXT! Leadership Team and Context Team and their children

Like any collective impact network, the D.C. Network for Expectant and Parenting Teens (known as DC NEXT!) brings together diverse stakeholders to work toward a common goal—in this case, improving the ability of teen parents in Washington, D.C. to make healthy decisions about relationships, parenting, and life. 

DC NEXT!, a TPP20 Tier 2 Innovation and Impact Network grantee, is made up of expectant and parenting teens, community providers, educational institutions, health care agencies, and government partners. The group is led by the District of Columbia Primary Care Association in partnership with Children's National Hospital and Howard University.

Several tenets underpin the successes of DC NEXT!, including:

  • Valuing youth as experts. The most important stakeholder is undoubtedly expectant and parenting teens themselves, whose expertise and lived experience ground the network’s efforts. These youth comprise the Context Team, DC NEXT!’s backbone, which plays a central role in identifying challenges, designing solutions, and implementing supports and services for expectant and parenting teens.
  • Embracing the collective impact framework. The collective impact framework is rooted in trust, transparency, consensus, respect, collaboration, and system change. DC NEXT! lives this framework in part by regularly convening stakeholders for discussion and innovation design, leveraging the strengths of each partner, and constantly scanning for points of alignment across partners. Using the framework, stakeholders within the network organize their efforts around a common agenda to maximize reach and accelerate impact.
  • Using systems mapping. Network partners’ recent systems mapping exercise led the group to identify strengths, gaps, and alignment opportunities in the system of care for expectant and parenting teens. The Context Team drove the development of personas that realistically depicted the challenges faced by expectant and parenting youth in D.C. This process enabled DC NEXT! to envision a more effective system of care and define concrete next steps for making that vision a reality.

Other grantees working with youth can check out resources on meaningful youth engagement, such as the RHNTC’s Meaningful Youth Engagement in TPP Programs Webinar and OPA’s Listen Up! Youth Listening Session Toolkit. For more information on systems mapping, check out The What and Why of Systems Mapping for TPP Programs Webinar recording and supplemental materials.