Grantee Spotlight from Texas

Listening Sessions Can Jumpstart Community Engagement for New TPP Projects


My first goal for the community engagement process is getting folks in a room! Once we have them there, we need to make the most of their time, even if it’s just one nugget of information or insight. And keep them engaged throughout the project and the work.
Christi N. Esquivel, Project Director

Listening sessions are an effective way to kick off community engagement in the planning phase of a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPP) project.

If you’re a new TPP grantee, consider taking cues from TPP23 Tier 1 grantee Texas A&M University and their partners from Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. They intend to use their listening sessions to identify:

  • Priority adolescent health topics and skill development opportunities for youth and families
  • Potential systems-level approaches to improve adolescent sexual and reproductive health
  • Opportunities to improve the fit of the selected evidence-based program (High School FLASH 3.0) and resource (Confident Teen), and make sure they are culturally appropriate and relevant for youth in priority communities and settings

The leverage points identified through a recent systems mapping exercise are driving the project team’s listening session discussion guides and project strategy. A systems approach along with community engagement is a recipe that the team believes will enable them—and any replication grantee—to provide the greatest benefit possible to the community.

The project team plans to conduct their listening sessions with a variety of people connected to their implementation settings, including: youth served by Chicago Public Schools, teachers working in schools where they will implement the evidence-based program, youth in congregate care settings, parents and caregivers, youth-serving professionals, and other community partners.

To recruit listening session participants, they will:

  • Distribute flyers with key project and listening session info plus a QR code that links to a website with additional information about the project and staff
  • Provide food, transportation, and stipends for participants
  • Offer a variety of listening session days/times to give participants options
  • Schedule virtual listening sessions, if needed to increase participation

The project team anticipates that lessons learned from these listening sessions will inform other community engagement efforts, like defining the scope and activities of their youth advisory council and external advisory group and identifying which incentives are most effective for participant recruitment and retention. They will also collect participant contact information so they can let people know how their participation shaped the work and share ongoing opportunities to contribute to the project.

If you’re a TPP grantee looking to conduct listening sessions, check out the Listen Up! Youth Listening Session Toolkit.