Why I love Teen Success Inc.
By Peter Belden
With so many organizations out there doing good work, what is it that makes Teen Success Inc. stand out? To me the specific focus on teen moms, an often overlooked group, and the clarity of Teen Success, Inc.'s goals sets Teen Success, Inc. apart. This clarity makes it easy to understand what the organization is trying to achieve and to see how it is progressing.
Teen moms are a clear, specific and overlooked population. Even many people who are concerned about teen pregnancy do not realize how common repeat teen pregnancy is and the lack of programs that work with teen moms. By focusing just on this group Teen Success Inc. has developed particular understanding and trust with the Teen Success members it serves.
Teen Success, Inc. has three goals:
1. maintain family size by avoiding unplanned pregnancy
2. complete high school
3. develop strong parenting skills to nurture their child's positive development
The clarity of these goals and the way in which the Teen Success curriculum directly addresses each of them reveals the careful thought that went into their selection. These three goals are also complementary. While other programs may focus only on parenting skills or mentoring for life skills they generally do not address the important topics of high school completion and of providing information on birth control to avoid another teen pregnancy that could the young mom’s plans. It was my head that brought me to Teen Success, Inc. but it's my heart that keeps me there. My head was attracted by the organization's clear strategy, but once I was able to visit a Teen Success group and hear from the teen moms in person my heart was hooked.
With such a high need, an important population being served and a clear set of goals I was excited by the opportunity to support Teen Success, Inc. and I hope you will consider it as well. And if that’s not enough, when you help a teen mom you are changing not just one life, you are changing two.
Peter Belden is a Teen Success, Inc. Board Member and is co-founder of Upstream USA.
As we usher in the holiday giving season, we would like to let you know about a global movement that Teen Success, Inc. is taking part in called #GivingTuesday.
#GivingTuesday, celebrated annually on the Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, provides an annual opportunity to create a moment of national unity around giving and a more engaged citizenship.Congress earlier this week passed a bipartisan resolution endorsing the benefits of charitable giving and expressing support for #GivingTuesday, a social movement that encourages giving in all its forms by people and communities across the country. Everyone can participate!
On December 1st, you have the opportunity to make a difference. On this #GivingTuesday, we ask that you consider making a gift in support of the bright, motivated, and hardworking young mothers in Teen Success, Inc. They are working to make brighter futures for themselves and their children by completing high school, enhancing their parenting skills, and setting long-term educational, financial, and personal goals.
All gifts made to Teen Success, Inc. are tax-deductible.
Thank you for your support!
P.S. For all of our Facebook and Twitter followers! Teen Success, Inc. is trying out a new and exciting feature on social media that makes it easy for you to donate. Hashtag donations allow you to donate without leaving social media. Simply write #donate and an amount you'd like to donate on any TSI Facebook post or when you tweet us. If you're not signed up, you’ll receive a link to complete a one-time registration. It really is that simple.
Join us on Facebook!
Follow us on Twitter!
BY CARMEN GEORGE
Facing some of the nation’s highest rates of teen pregnancy in the central San Joaquin Valley, Teen Success, Inc. is working hard to support teenage mothers and reduce those numbers.
Becky Morgan, a former Republican state senator, founded the nonprofit four years ago after doing similar work with Planned Parenthood for more than 20 years. She talked about the journey during an open house for Teen Success Inc. last week at Fresno Barrios Unidos in southeast Fresno.
“Often teenagers say, ‘Why are you doing this? Were you a teen mom?’ ” Morgan says, “And I say, ‘No, I was not a teen mom, but I grew up on a farm, I didn’t have much, and people helped me and I wanted to give forward.’ And what I saw was the valedictorian of my very small high school class was pregnant when she graduated and we’ve never heard from her since."
Looking out upon the faces of many teen mothers in the crowd, Morgan adds, “and I don’t want these young women to disappear.
“I want them to have hope and to succeed and to have a richer life than they would have had without our help.”
Over the past year, the nonprofit has helped 235 teen mothers in the Central Valley who gather once a week in small groups to learn about parenting, setting and achieving educational goals, and things like contraception and waiting to have another child until they are financially and emotionally ready.
In Fresno, 19-year-olds Salina Rios and Cecilia Morales are among those who have benefited from the program. Both have plans to go to college.
“It just keeps us motivated to do better for our children,” Rios says.
“And it teaches us things that we never knew,” Morales adds.
Morales says she didn’t know about birth control, that condoms could rip, or that she could get pregnant as a young teen.
Rios wishes teachers had talked with her about the potential “consequences” of sex.
“I think if we had that kind of information, of STDs and condoms, in detail, not just like, ‘Oh, don’t have sex,’ I think it would have been more better,” Rios says. “They just told you about puberty, guy parts and girl parts.”
Facilitators with Teen Success Inc. also engage with schools to help promote comprehensive sex education.
Morales says the program is helping her learn how to be a good mom.
“The group taught me how to read to your child,” she says. “I didn’t know you were supposed to read to your child and they learn words and now my son loves reading books and, being 2, he knows a lot of words.”
Across the state, Teen Success Inc. has 20 teen mom groups facilitated by seven partner organizations. There are 12 in the Central Valley, four in Fresno – three through Fresno Barrios Unidos and one through Planned Parenthood. The Fresno groups average between 12 and 14 girls.
“Our facilitators will get calls at 2 in the morning because our young women don’t have somewhere to live, because they are in abusive relationships,” says Socorro Santillan, executive director of Fresno Barrios Unidos. “A lot of them come from probation or foster care, so they are really young women who are struggling to just make ends meet.”
Teen Success Inc. provides the funding, training, curriculum and technical assistance for community facilitators to implement the program. The newest teen mom group, run by Fresno Barrios Unidos, started meeting last week at the Big Red Church of Fresno in the Tower District.
Teen Success Inc. is proud of their accomplishments over the past year. They say 94% of teen mothers who went through their program graduated from high school or are on track to graduate, compared to 40% of teen moms nationwide, and that only 3% have had a second pregnancy as a teen, compared to 18% nationally.
For teen mom Cynthia Rodriguez, 18, the best part of the program is something you can’t measure in numbers.
“They are really supportive,” she says, “As soon as I walk in the door it’s, ‘Hello!’ Smiles from left to right.”
Carmen George: 559-441-6386, @CarmenGeorge
Menlo Park, CA, June 18, 2015 --(PR.com)-- Seven teen mothers receive college scholarships.
Seven teen mothers received college scholarships at an event held in Menlo Park earlier this spring. The keynote address was delivered by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge and former teen mom Teresa Guerrero-Daley. Judge Guerrero-Daley shared her own remarkable story as a teen mom and high school dropout to being the first Latina elected to the Santa Clara County Superior Court. Over 100 people were in attendance including Teen Success, Inc. supporters, community stakeholders, and the scholarship recipients and their families.
Teen Success, Inc., a nonprofit organization supporting teen mothers, hosted The Seeds We Plant, the third annual Teen Success, Inc. scholarship luncheon to honor the 2015 scholarship recipients. The mission of Teen Success, Inc. is to help underserved teen mothers and their children become educated, selfsufficient, valued members of society. It was founded in 2011 by former California State Senator Becky Morgan to help teen mothers stay in school, graduate, and make good lives for themselves and their children. Teen Success, Inc. implements 16 teen mother support groups in the Bay Area, Monterey County, and Central Valley of California.
"We are thrilled to award seven scholarships this year," said Karin Kelley-Torregroza, Executive Director of Teen Success, Inc. "These scholarships are transformational. Most of these young women are the first in their families to go to college and in some cases, are even the first to graduate high school. They are creating positive futures for themselves and their children."
In California, there were more than 35,000 births to teen moms in 2013. The challenges of early parenthood are significant: 70% of teen mothers in California drop out of high school, one-fifth of teen moms have a second birth as a teen, and children born to teen mothers are more likely to score poorly on measures of school readiness. Teen Success, Inc. uses an evidence-informed program model in which first-time teen mothers meet once a week throughout the year to develop their skills, receive peer support, and connect to resources that help them reach their goals. 94% of Teen Success members have graduated high school or are on track to do so.
Judge Guerrero-Daley says that much of her success was possible due to the support she has received over the years and sees this opportunity to speak to the teen moms in Teen Success, Inc. as paying it forward. "I know they can do it because I did it," she says. "If I can inspire them with my story then it's all worth it."
About Teen Success, Inc.: Established in 2011, Teen Success, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that supports teen mothers and their children to get on the pathway to self-sufficiency and success. Teen Success, Inc. provides a peer support group program that addresses education and career, parenting, goal setting, and health and wellness. Teen Success, Inc. uses a strengths-based approach that respects, values, and harnesses the teen mother's own potential in order to shape her and her child's future. The program offers teen mothers membership into a support group in which they are mentored by professional facilitators and develop trusting, supportive relationships with their peers, who together inspire and empower them to reach their potential.
Having a caring and trusted adult in one's life is a critical component of positive youth development. It is often something that many of us take for granted, but for many of the young mother that TSI works with, the Teen Success facilitators are the only caring adults in their lives. Facilitators play a tremendous role in the Ten Success program.
TSI is pleased to honor Ana Lilia Soto from San Jose and Lupita Romo from Fresno for going above and beyond to support their members' success. Congratulations!
Here at TSI we work with pregnant and parenting teen mothers who want nothing more than to provide for their children and to give them a good life. They know that the way to make that happen is through education. Unfortunately, many of our schools are holding these young women behind and are hurting two generations---the young women and their children. That is why it is important for teen parents to be included in discussions around maternity leave policy.
From RH Reality Check
by Gloria Malone
February 19, 2015 - 4:13 pm
Sweeping federal family leave legislation, an economic issue that gained new life when President Obama acknowledged its significance during this year’s State of the Union address, has both short- and long-term benefits for individuals, families, and society as a whole. Those benefits include better health outcomes for both parents and children.
Conversations about the need for more comprehensive maternity leave policies, however, rarely seem to include solutions to the issues facing pregnant and parenting students, despite the fact that they are at great risk of staying in poverty because of how little support teen parents receive from the people in their communities and their lives.
For example, even though pregnant and parenting teens have the right to equal educational opportunity under Title IX, which allows for excused absences and medical leave during a pregnancy, among other things, many students are unaware of their rights, school faculty and staff do not inform them of those rights, and schools do a poor job of establishing comprehensive policies that go beyond addressing the on-paper needs of students who are pregnant or parenting.
If advocates truly want to improve outcomes for new moms and dads, they would also help elevate the needs of pregnant and parenting teens, instead of allowing the system to continue punishing young adults for making their own reproductive decisions.
Pregnant and parenting students face significant barriers that often are overlooked or discounted by schoolteachers and other people in their lives. They have to juggle keeping on top of their schoolwork with attending school in unsafe learning environments due to things like bullying, societal stigma, and shame. Pregnant teens have their own set of unique needs, which vary from person to person but often include constant bathroom breaks, snacking in between meals, and pregnancy-related doctor’s appointments.
Excused absences for such appointments, along with frequent breaks during the school day, while protected under Title IX, are not without consequences at schools with staunch rules. Some schools have been called out for zero-tolerance teen pregnancy policies; teens have been expelled after being forced to take a pregnancy test.
Once the parent gives birth to their child, they will spend many late nights up with their newborn, while also coping with engorged, sore breasts in school, whether or not they decide to breastfeed, with virtually no access to a safe, clean space should they need to pump breast milk. And that’s not to mention the amount of time and resources required to make and keep safe and affordable child-care arrangements.
The limited number of allowed absences run out quickly for new parents before they suffer the consequences of academic pushout and/or expulsion. Comprehensive maternity leave policies for pregnant and parenting teens are needed to support academic attainment.
As Natasha Vianna explained in a 2013 RH Reality Check article, her teacher went to great lengths to humiliate her in class after she missed a school day to take her daughter, who was born with a condition that required several doctor’s visits early on, to a necessary appointment. Because Vianna missed a quiz, her teacher demanded that she come back after school to make up the work. But the teacher didn’t stop there: In front of the entire class, she went on to “remind” Vianna that she “chose to become a mom in high school,” and therefore she wouldn’t get “special treatment.”
“School was hell for me,” wrote Vianna. “When the teachers don’t want to see you succeed, you feel as if your mere presence in the school is unwanted.”
New research shows that these types of experiences for pregnant and parenting teens are not uncommon. A recent report from the African American Policy Forum and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies found that pregnant and parenting female teens in high school are often pushed out by school faculty and staff for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to stigmatization, lack of child care, strict attendance policies, unsafe campuses (resulting from school fights, forceful school resources officers, and bullying, among other reasons), and ill-equipped administrators.
Pregnant and parenting teens say that becoming pregnant and having their children increased their desire to continue and complete their education. However, educational pushout makes this a near-impossible goal to achieve.
This form of educational pushout creates a pipeline from school to deeper poverty for pregnant and parenting teens and their families. Being that educational attainment has been cited as one of the best ways to overcome poverty, and that poverty is one of the leading causes of teenage pregnancy, educational pushout has long-lasting effects for new parents, their children, and society at large.
Educational pushout perpetuates the cycle of poverty.
Thankfully there are some nonprofits and educational programs that see the unique needs of teen pregnant and parenting students and have established targeted and holistic approaches to addressing these needs. There’s Alley’s House, a Dallas-based nonprofit that provides pregnant and parenting students alternative educational services, with specialized attendance policies, and other programs designed to influence their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. And New Mexico Graduation, Reality, and Dual-Role Skills (New Mexico GRADS) has a ten-point curriculum that, like Alley’s House, tackles each of the various barriers pregnant and parenting teens will face.
And then, of course, there’s legislation. New Mexico’s parental leave law, which was signed by Gov. Susana Martinez in 2013, seeks to counter this type of systemic discrimination of pregnant and parenting teens by creating a state-level mandate that allows both male and female parents additional absences from school without being expelled. Even though Title IX protects a pregnant and parenting student’s right to an education, the law goes so far as to require “public schools to provide a copy of the parenting and student absence policies to all students in middle, junior high, or high schools.”
Maternity leave laws for pregnant and parenting teens help ensure they are able to stay in school, graduate, and pursue higher education, like in the case of Karina Rodriguez. Rodriguez’s son had health problems early on, which meant she had to be absent from classes to take him to necessary appointments. As a result, the school told Rodriguez she was going to be disenrolled from school because she had missed too many school days. Fortunately, under New Mexico’s parental leave law, she was able to take advantage of the extended amount of absences allotted to her and stay in school. She has since graduated high school and is enrolled at Central New Mexico Community College.
Maternity leave laws for teenage parents provide additional time for the new parent to establish healthy school-work-life balance early on, which could help reduce the disproportionately high rate of postpartum depression that pregnant and parenting teens experience.
We also saw legislators in Massachusetts introduce HB 525 in 2014, which would allow teen parents to take family leave without educational punishment and would establish liaisons who would work with parenting students to ensure they graduate on time. And at the national level, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act in 2013. Widely supported by advocates, the act called for a federal policy requiring states to support pregnant and parenting teens while they meet their education and parenting duties.
But introducing legislation isn’t enough.
As President Obama said during his State of the Union address, “It’s time we stop treating child care as a side issue … and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us.” Holding teen parents behind hurts our economy. Moreover, students shouldn’t be pushed out, stressed out, or punished for wanting to pursue an education while parenting.
The cycle of poverty among teenage families must end. It’s up to all of us to ensure the needs of teenage parents are acknowledged in conversations about maternity leave policy.
Two years ago at age 16, Veronica found out she was pregnant. She had little support from the family and friends in her life. She didn’t know how she was going to secure basic items for her baby such as diapers and bottles. She felt lost and alone.
Now Veronica is a freshman at San Jose State University studying nursing, the first in her family to go to college. She is motivated and focused on accomplishing the goals she has for herself and for her two year-old son Francisco.
How did this transformation occur? Certainly, it wasn’t overnight and it wasn’t a straight trajectory to success.
Veronica’s journey took her through the doors of Teen Success, Inc. (TSI) in December 2013. Through her participation in our program, Veronica was able to gain a vision for herself, hope for the future, confidence in her parenting abilities, and the skills to help her plan for college and her life.
Today, Veronica joins the 94% of TSI members that have graduated from high school or are on their way to do so, as compared to 50% of all teen mothers nationally. Veronica gives back by being a peer leader at TSI and is dedicated to setting a good example for her son. Veronica says, “If I can set and accomplish my goals, so can my son.”
Thanks to TSI supporters, TSI has been able to serve over 400 mothers and their children in the last three years who are gaining the skills necessary for long-term success.
Please join us, by making a gift to TSI this holiday season.
By investing in Teen Success, Inc. you make a profound difference in the lives of young mothers like Veronica (pictured at left, at her high school graduation) in our community. Click here to donate.
Each Thursday, the Thrive Foundation for Youth highlights a success from one of their grantees and features it on social media with the hashtag, #Thriving Thursday. Teen Success, Inc. has been grateful for the Thrive Foundation's support and for its recent #ThrivingThursday features. Check them out below.
A recent piece from the Chronicle of Philanthropy makes the point that considerable attention has been paid to the unprecedented violence in this country affecting minority men and boys, most notably with the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. This was a call to action for many in our country and has resulted in numerous investments including President Obama's very successful public-private partnership My Brother's Keeper. Pamela Shifman and Nakisha M. Lewis make the point that there is a parallel crisis impacting minority women and girls that is often lost in the media headlines. They make the point that girls of color experience high rates of sexual abuse, suspension/expulsion from school, and incarceration. This creates a very dark picture for their economic security. According to the article, "Single black women and Latinas have the lowest median net wealth of all racial and gender groups. Single black women hold just $100 in wealth, on average, and Latinas just $120. That’s compared to $7,900 for single black men, $9,730 for single Latino men, and $41,500 for single white women."
This is very concerning, particularly when you consider that the rates of teen pregnancy among girls of color has been higher than that of their white counterparts. When you take teen parenthood and couple that with their grim income prospects, it makes raising a child incredibly challenging. This perpetuates a cycle of poverty that must be put to an end. We know that all the young mothers we work with want the best for themselves and their child and they CAN make it happen. They just need support. It will take investments and advocacy to change the discourse. If we want an equitable and just society, we need to invest in women and girls.
See the full article at http://shar.es/LSYAn.
TSI is proud to have been featured in a special report on teen mothers by KSEE 24 in Fresno. Our Teen Success members talk about their struggles as teen mothers and their hopes for the future.
...when you help a teen mom you are changing not just one life, you are changing two.
We hope you will join us and meet the inspirational teen mothers we work with.