I believe college mentors provide the hope and courage for our middle and high school students to imagine life beyond where they are today. It makes the dream of going to college and developing skills that are both marketable and impactful a realistic aspiration for all the students involved.
Barbara Sheppard, Executive Director, The Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA)
The Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA)—the local health authority of Cabarrus County, North Carolina—is a Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program grantee implementing the Elevate program among high school students in Kannapolis, a suburb of the Charlotte metropolitan area. The goal of Elevate is to reduce teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infection rates, and health disparities.
As a 2015 Tier 2 TPP Program grantee (charged with developing and testing innovative interventions that contribute to adolescent health), CHA spearheaded a demonstration project with middle and high schools. Now, as a 2021 Tier 1 grantee (charged with replicating evidence-based programs), CHA is continuing to showcase that innovative spirit and proving that replication grantees can also implement novel approaches to achieve their goals.
For example, CHA is recruiting and training college student mentors to serve as role models and educators. Barbara Sheppard, Executive Director of CHA, says, “I believe college mentors provide the hope and courage for our middle and high school students to imagine life beyond where they are today. It makes the dream of going to college and developing skills that are both marketable and impactful a realistic aspiration for all the students involved.” Mentors discuss healthy norms, decision making, and positive developmental assets in a way that resonates with participants, and they also help CHA with TPP program fidelity monitoring, which gives them tangible professional skills. Ultimately, CHA’s mentorship approach is building both a bridge to youth participants and a pipeline for the next generation of health professionals.
With support from its RHNTC grantee liaison, CHA also plans to start a learning collaborative, an innovative way to facilitate communication and collaboration among community stakeholders. In the learning collaborative, stakeholders will forge and strengthen cross-sector and cross-community partnerships, and build consensus around medically-accurate, trauma-informed, and age-appropriate adolescent health action plans. CHA will share learning collaborative activities and findings widely so that other grantees can apply these learnings to achieve the greatest collective impact on adolescent health.
Are you a TPP Program grantee that, like CHA, has ideas for how to make your TPP program more robust or effective? If so, discuss these ideas with your grantee liaison! They are eager to help you navigate implementing innovations while adhering to TPP Program requirements.