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Get Organized: A Guide to Preventing Teen Pregnancy

Publication Date

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

U. S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Johnson and Johnson Family of Companies


The views expressed here are those of the authors at the National Campaign.
They do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Introduction and Overview

The 1990s have brought some good news regarding teen pregnancy in the United States: after two decades of increasing teen pregnancy and birth rates, the numbers have declined. Overall, the teen birth rate declined by 16 percent from 1991 to 1997, with all states recording a decline in the birth rate of 15- to 19-year-olds. It is the sixth year in a row that the teen birth rate has declined. Nevertheless, 4 out of 10 American girls get pregnant at least once before they turn 20, leading to nearly one million teen pregnancies a year. Clearly, teen pregnancy remains a serious problem, and the economic, social, and personal costs for teens, their children, and society are great. As a nation, we are at a severe competitive disadvantage when our teen pregnancy and birth rates are at least double — even triple — those of other industrialized nations.

Communities around the country increasingly recognize that helping teens avoid pregnancy can’t be accomplished by any single program or strategy. Because the causes of teen pregnancy are complicated and overlapping, solutions must have many parts and approaches. This means doing things differently: getting new people and organizations involved, committing for the long term, and measuring carefully the effectiveness of programs. This three-volume publication, Get Organized: A Guide to Preventing Teen Pregnancy, is meant to be a practical manual, a toolkit of sorts, for people at the state and local levels who are interested in taking action to prevent teen pregnancy in their communities. It covers a lot of ground — from strategies for collecting basic data and for reaching out to religious leaders to practical advice about how to raise money and conduct program evaluation. Yet it remains easy to read and simple to use, with many examples from promising programs around the country. We hope it will be useful as communities unite to address this issue and to design programs that are right for them.

Get Organized was developed primarily for those creating a state or local coalition or strategy to prevent teen pregnancy, although anyone interested in developing a single, small program to help teens avoid pregnancy should find valuable information in these chapters. Several overarching principles bind these chapters together:

  • Multiple, mutually complementary strategies are more likely to make a difference. There are no easy answers to the problem of teen pregnancy.
  • Involving new partners, like the business community, or traditional partners in new ways enhances any prevention strategy.
  • Preventing teen pregnancy requires long-term, intense effort. One six-week program will not have much lasting effect, nor will a couple of classroom hours. And, because a new crop of teenagers arrives on the scene every year, prevention efforts must be constantly reinvented.
  • Communities can unite around the need to address teen pregnancy without expecting unanimity about ways to prevent it. Different organizations and members of the community can adopt different strategies to reach the same end— fewer pregnant teens. Sometimes strategies even seem to conflict with each other, but that is not necessarily a problem. Teen pregnancy is a complicated — even messy — problem, and “messy” strategies can often be useful.
  • Parents are important influences on their children’s decisions about sexual behavior. They should be supported in their roles and included in planning and developing strategies to prevent teen pregnancy. And, needless to say, involving teens themselves — the “target audience” — is always essential.
  • Focusing on boys and young men is critical to any effort to prevent teen pregnancy. Girls are indeed the ones who get pregnant, but it takes two to cause a pregnancy.

As the accompanying matrix shows [only available in printed version], Get Organized is divided into three complementary volumes:

Volume I:  Focusing on the Kids opens with an overview of the promising programs that can help prevent teen pregnancy. The other chapters explain how to tailor programs to stages of adolescent development, create interventions for girls, involve boys and young men in prevention efforts, and involve young people themselves in developing and implementing programs.

Volume II:  Involving the Key Players focuses on the roles of traditional participants in prevention efforts, like schools and health care professionals, as well as some often overlooked players, including faith leaders, the business community, and parents.

Volume III:  Making It Happen concentrates on the logistics of developing a state or local coalition — or any major effort — to prevent teen pregnancy, including involving the community, assessing the needs of the community, planning, fundraising, working with the media, evaluating initiatives, and dealing with conflict.

Each chapter of Get Organized follows a similar format. The tab divider briefly describes how the information is organized and lists a handful of the chapter’s key ideas. Throughout the chapters, readers will find easy-to-read boxes, checklists, and nuggets of factual information. Boxes labeled “Research Notes” offer useful findings from published studies. “Field Notes” offer the best advice from practitioners in the field. “Case in Point” boxes illustrate specific issues with real-life examples. Every chapter concludes with a list of helpful references and resources. While the chapters and volumes of Get Organized certainly work in tandem, each individual chapter is also meant to stand on its own as a resource.

Many talented people have worked on Get Organized, and they are recognized by name in the Acknowledgments, but I would like to thank, in particular, our partners and funders, the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, for their support.

Good work is being done around the country to prevent teen pregnancy. We at the National Campaign hope that Get Organized serves both to catalyze new initiatives and reinvigorate existing ones at the state and local levels.

Isabel V. Sawhill
National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy


A project the size and scope of Get Organized:  A Guide to Preventing Teen Pregnancy could not have been accomplished without the hard work and support of many people and organizations. First of all, several offices in the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provided the principal funding for the project through a subcontract from the Urban Institute: the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation; the Office of Population Affairs; the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies contributed generous support for the design and printing of Get Organized.

The National Campaign expresses its great appreciation to the authors of Get Organized. In addition, we thank the DHHS' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation for their overall guidance of the project and careful review of the manuscript, particularly Margaret Hamburg, M. D., Barbara Broman, Jeanine Smartt, Elisa Koff, Sonia Chessen, Devon Corneal, and Karin Abramson. The DHHS Interdepartmental Workgroup on the National Strategy to Prevent Teen Pregnancy also provided critical support and review.

The National Campaign thanks the past and present members of its State and Local Action Task Force for conceiving the project and reviewing its chapters: Annette Cumming, the Cumming Foundation; Leslie Kantor, Planned Parenthood of New York City; Elayne G. Bennett, Best Friends Foundation; Linda Berne, University of North Carolina at Charlotte College of Nursing; The Hon. Jay Bradford, Arkansas Senate; Claire Brindis, University of California Institute for Health Policy Studies; Donna Butts, Generations United; Sue Cameron, Tillamook County Commissioner; Carol Cassell, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Ezra Davidson, M. D., King-Drew Medical Center; The Hon. Frankie Sue Del Papa, State of Nevada Attorney General; Debra Delgado, the Annie E. Casey Foundation; Donna Fishman, Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting; Barbara Huberman, Advocates for Youth; Bernice Humphrey, Girls Inc.; Alexine Jackson, YWCA of the USA; Loretta Sweet Jemmott, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing; Reneé R. Jenkins, M. D., Howard University Hospital; Chris P. Nelson, Southwest District Health Department; Theodora Ooms, Family Impact Seminar; Aracely Panameño, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health; Wayne Pawlowski, Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Sharon Rodine, Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy; Hector Sánchez-Flores, California Department of Health Services, Office of Family Planning; John Schlitt, National Assembly on School-Based Health Care; Aaron Shirley, Jackson Medical Mall; Mary Vernon, M. D., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Kathleen Walsh, Catholic Social Ministries; Gayle Wilson, Center for Youth Policy and Advocacy; and Susan Wilson, Rutgers University School of Social Work.

In addition, the National Campaign extends its appreciation to the following individuals who reviewed chapters and provided other invaluable assistance: Lorraine Klerman, University of Alabama School of Public Health; Douglas Kirby, ETR Associates; Judith Musick, the Ounce of Prevention Fund; Freya Sonenstein and Laura Duberstein Lindberg, the Urban Institute; Michael Bzdak, Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies; Dominic Cappello; Sharon Adams-Taylor, American Association of School Administrators; Darcy Steinberg and Bill Datema, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials; Bill Shepardson, Shelly Hara, and Nora Howley, Council of Chief State School Officers; Carlos Vega-Matos, Jim Bogden, and Ginny Ehrlich, National Association of State Boards of Education; Paul Sathrum and Moira Cook, National Education Association; Nicole Kendall, National Conference of State Legislatures; Brenda Greene and Cameron Adkison, National School Boards Association; Suzanne M. Jessop and Marisa Nightingale of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy; Wendy Schaetzel Lesko, Activism 2000 Project; Ginna Fleming, Mayor’s Committee to Reduce Teenage Pregnancies and Out-of-Wedlock Births; Patti Flowers-Coulson, Governor’s Council on Adolescent Pregnancy and Governor’s Office for Children, Youth and Families; Joe Fay, York City Health Bureau; Sylvia Sterne, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals; Jeanne Luckett, Communication Arts Company; Sandra Adams, Louisiana Maternal and Child Health Coalition; Daña Alder, Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and Services Board; Andrea Rankin, Cortland County Health Department; Deborah Frazier, Arkansas Department of Health; Nancy Wilson, Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting; and Michele Ozumba, Georgia Department of Human Resources.

Finally, the National Campaign extends its thanks to the editors — Tamara Kreinin, Susan Kuhn, Anne Brown Rodgers, and John Hutchins — and to Bill Albert, Christine Flanigan, Carmen Ford, and Brenda Rhodes Miller of the staff of the National Campaign for shepherding the production of these volumes.

Design:  Smarteam Communications, Inc., Washington, DC


Claire D. Brindis

Claire D. Brindis, Dr. P. H., is Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent Medicine, at the University of California, San Francisco, and Executive Director of the National Adolescent Health Information Center, funded by the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB).  She is also Associate Director of the MCHBfunded Information and Analysis Center for Middle Childhood and Adolescence, as well as Director of the Center for Reproductive Health Policy Research at the University’s Institute for Health Policy Studies.

Donna Butts

Donna Butts is the Executive Director of Generations United, the only national organization working to foster intergenerational cooperation and support in public policy initiatives and programs.  For more than 25 years she has held leadership positions in the nonprofit world working with and on behalf of children and youth.  She is the author of numerous articles and is a strong national advocate for children, youth, and the elderly.  She is also a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE).

Janet Chapin

Janet Chapin, R. N., M. P. H., is the Director of the Division of Women’s Health Issues at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).  Before coming to ACOG in 1986, she initiated and operated a community-based high blood pressure control program at a rural community health center and managed the primary care program of the West Virginia Department of Health.  At ACOG, she is responsible for work on adolescent health care, access to health care for underserved women, and other women’s health issues.

Joy G. Dryfoos

Joy G. Dryfoos is an independent researcher from Hastingson-Hudson, New York.  Her work on comprehensive programs for high-risk adolescents has been supported by the Carnegie Corporation since 1985.  Dryfoos is the author of many articles and books, including Safe Passage:  Making it Through Adolescence in A Risky Society (Oxford, 1998).  Her current project focuses on full service community schools.

Lisa Hoeschele

Lisa Hoeschele has been working with the ZAP (Zero Adolescent Pregnancy) program in Cortland, New York, since early 1997, when she began a grants procurement program.  She coordinates all ZAP program activities, including peer and parent education, school and community outreach, and public relations.  Her previous experience includes work as a high school French teacher, as a fundraiser for public broadcasting, and as the Director of Development at a local community college.  She resides in Cortland with her husband and two children.

John Hutchins

John Hutchins is Senior Editor for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.  He has worked for the past twelve years as a writer, editor, policy analyst, and public relations professional for health care associations and public policy organizations in Washington, DC.  Hutchins is the author of Coming Together for Children and Families:  How Cabinet-Level Collaboration is Changing State Policymaking (Family Impact Seminar, 1998) and co-editor of Charting a Course for the Future of Women’s and Perinatal Health (Johns Hopkins University, 1999).

Leslie M. Kantor

Leslie M. Kantor is the Co-Chair of the State and Local Action Task Force of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and the Vice President of Education at Planned Parenthood of New York City.  In this latter role, Kantor gives overall direction to a department that provides workshops on sexuality to over 20,000 New Yorkers each year, and trains professionals and parents to be effective sexuality educators for youth.  A widely acclaimed speaker on sexuality, Kantor is the recipient of the Jay S. Drotman Memorial Award from the American Public Health Association, which recognizes accomplishments in “challenging public health policy or practices in a creative or positive manner.”

Tom Klaus

Tom Klaus is President of Legacy Resource Group in Carlisle, Iowa.  For more than 25 years, he has been involved in professional youth work as a consultant, speaker, minister, program developer, and administrator.  Klaus is a member of the Board of Directors for the National Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Parenting, and Prevention and is one of the creators of the nationally-recognized IT TAKES TWO adolescent pregnancy prevention programs.

Tamara Kreinin

Tamara Kreinin, M. H. S. A., has worked extensively in health care and human services for over twenty years.  Kreinin holds a master’s degree in Health Services Administration from the University of Michigan.  She is currently the Director of State and Local Affairs at the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.  Kreinin started and served as Executive Director of The New Orleans Council For Young Children.  She is a spokesperson and resource for the press on issues of importance to children and families and she lectures and conducts workshops frequently on a variety of topics.

Susan M. Kuhn

Susan M. Kuhn is a Washington based consultant who helps nonprofit organizations launch new activities and products.  A 20-year veteran of the nonprofit and philanthropy fields, she has started new organizations, created new publications, authored and edited books, and designed and implemented new organizational strategies and structures.  Kuhn’s background is in development, editorial work, and strategic planning.

Susan Philliber

Susan Philliber, Ph. D., is Senior Partner at Philliber Research Associates.  She received her doctorate in sociology from Florida State University and has held faculty positions at the University of Utah, the University of Cincinnati, and Columbia University.  She is extensively published and is widely recognized for her experience in program evaluation, which includes teen pregnancy, school-improvement, school-linked collaboratives, school dropout programs, programs for the homeless, programs for those living with HIV and AIDS, as well as many youth development programs.

William Smith

William Smith is Manager of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy’s Program on Religion and Public Values.  In this role, Smith conducts the Campaign’s conflict reduction work and faith community outreach, and manages the Campaign’s Advisory Panels in both the U. S. Senate and House of Representatives.  Smith is a doctoral student at the Catholic University of America in politics and has done graduate work at Villanova University, the University of Notre Dame, and Georgetown University.  A recipient of a number of academic honors and scholarships, Smith also has published articles on politics and American government.

Barbara Sugland

Barbara Sugland, M. P. H, Sc. D., is a Senior Research Associate and the Area Director for Research on Adolescent Childbearing at Child Trends.  With training in behavioral science research and public health service delivery practice, Sugland’s expertise is in identifying research and collaborative strategies that bridge the gap between theory and practice in the area of adolescent reproductive health.  She is the author of several reports and articles on adolescent childbearing and pregnancy prevention.  She also provides technical assistance to community-based organizations seeking to develop teen pregnancy prevention programs.

Karen Troccoli

Karen Troccoli, M. P. H., has worked on maternal and child health issues for more than a decade.  Currently a project director at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, she previously worked for the Southern Regional Project on Infant Mortality, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, and the National Commission to Prevent Infant Mortality on issues such as teen pregnancy and access to care for underserved populations.  Troccoli is the author of numerous reports and a book, Like It Is:  A Teen Sex Guide (McFarland, 1998).

Anne Brown Rodgers

Anne Brown Rodgers has been a writer and editor for more than twenty years, working on publications for technical as well as lay audiences.  Her primary focus is on health-related issues, and she has covered a broad range of topics, including women’s health, prenatal care, HIV/ AIDS, cancer, rural health care delivery, nutrition, and managed care.  Since 1992, she has managed her own writing and editorial services business.

Volume 1: Focusing on the Kids

[NOTE: Each chapter below is a separate file in Portable Document Format (PDF). To view the PDF files, you will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader, a special "add-in" for your web browser. If you do not have it installed, go to to download and install it. Once it is installed, you can view and print the chapters.

  1. Promising Approaches to Preventing Teen Pregnancy,
    by John Hutchins
  2. Tailoring Pregnancy Prevention Programs to Stages of Adolescent Development,
    by Leslie Kantor
  3. Developing Pregnancy Prevention Programs for Girls and Young Women,
    by Leslie Kantor
  4. Involving Teen Boys and Young Men in Teen Pregnancy Prevention,
    by John Hutchins
  5. Involving Youth in Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs,
    by Donna Butts

Volume 2: Involving the Key Players

  1. Involving Parents and Other Adults,
    by Lisa Hoeschele
  2. Involving the Faith Community,
    by Tom Klaus
  3. Involving the Business Community,
    by Karen Troccoli
  4. Involving Schools,
    by Joy Dryfoos
  5. Involving Health Care Professionals,
    by Janet Chapin

Volume 3: Making It Happen

  1. Getting Your Community Involved in a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Project,
    by Claire Brindis
  2. Tailoring a Program to Your Community Through Needs Assessment,
    by Barbara Sugland
  3. Planning and Carrying Out a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Project,
    by Claire Brindis
  4. Raising Funds for Teen Pregnancy Prevention,
    by Donna Butts
  5. Working with the Media to Promote Teen Pregnancy Prevention,
    by John Hutchins
  6. Building Evaluation into Your Work,
    by Susan Philliber
  7. Moving Forward in the Face of Conflict,
    by Tamara Kreinin and William Smith

Order Form for Printed Copy

Get Organized is a three-volume set:

  • Volume 1:  Focusing on the Kids
  • Volume 2:  Involving the Key Players
  • Volume 3:  Making It Happen

The entire set can be purchased for $19.95.  To order copies, return a check and the completed form below to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Department #6021, Washington, DC 20042-6021.  Make checks payable to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.  Credit card orders are accepted on the Campaign’s website:

Please be certain to include the title, Get Organized, on your check.

Your Name: _________________________________________________________________

Organization: _________________________________________________________________

Address: ____________________________________________________________________


Telephone Number: (________________)

Quantity: ____________ x $19.95 = ____________

15% Shipping and Handling Costs: ____________

DC Tax (5.75%)*: ____________

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* DC residents must add 5.75% sales tax or submit copy of DC tax-exemption certificate.

Board of Directors of the National Campaign


Thomas H. Kean,

former Governor of New Jersey and President, Drew University


Isabel V. Sawhill,

Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution


Linda Chavez,

President, Center for Equal Opportunity

Annette Cumming,

Executive Director and Vice President, The Cumming Foundation

William Galston,

School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland

Whoopi Goldberg,

actress Katharine Graham, Chairman of the Executive Committee, The Washington Post Company

David A. Hamburg, M. D.,

President Emeritus, Carnegie Corporation of New York

Alexine Clement Jackson,

National President, YWCA of the USA

Sheila Johnson,

Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Black Entertainment Television, Inc.

Judith E. Jones,

Clinical Professor, Columbia University School of Public Health

Leslie Kantor,

Vice President of Education, Planned Parenthood of New York City, Inc.

Nancy Kassebaum Baker,

former U. S. Senator

Douglas Kirby,

Senior Research Scientist, ETR Associates

John D. Macomber,

Principal, JDM Investment Group

Sister Mary Rose McGeady,

President and Chief Executive Officer, Covenant House

Jody Greenstone Miller,

former Acting President and Chief Operating Officer, Americast

John E. Pepper,

Chairman of the Board, The Procter & Gamble Company

Stephen W. Sanger,

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, General Mills, Inc.

Victoria P. Sant,

President, The Summit Foundation

Isabel C. Stewart,

National Executive Director, Girls Inc.

Judy Woodruff,

Prime Anchor and Senior Correspondent, CNN

Andrew Young,

former Ambassador to the U. N. and Co-Chairman, GoodWorks International

Trustees Emeriti

Charlotte Beers,

Chairman, J. Walter Thompson

Irving B. Harris,

Chairman, The Harris Foundation

Barbara Huberman,

Director of Training, Advocates for Youth

C. Everett Koop, M. D.,

former U. S. Surgeon General

Judy McGrath,

President, MTV Kristin Moore, President, Child Trends, Inc.

Hugh Price,

President, National Urban League, Inc.

Warren B. Rudman,

former U. S. Senator and Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison

Campaign Director

Sarah Brown