North Texas teen pregnancy prevention organization awarded $1 million in federal grants

Veronica Whitehead, director of programs and head sex educator for The North Texas Alliance to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy in Teens, providing sex education online.

The North Texas Alliance to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy in Teens (Ntarupt) has been awarded funding from two federal grants totaling $1,050,000 per year from the Office of Population Affairs (OPA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The grants will help Ntarupt work with communities to address teen reproductive health, teen pregnancy, support parents and expand resources for Dallas communities and populations experiencing the greatest need and inequities.

“Ntarupt, along with our partners, has led the way in addressing teen pregnancy in North Texas and providing sex education to thousands of teens and parents,” said Terry Goltz Greenberg, CEO. “Through grant awards like these, we can better equip teens and their parents with the comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and resources needed to make informed life decisions. Never has this been more critical than in today’s social, political and economic environment.”

Ntarupt provides evidence-based, medically accurate, LGBTQ inclusive sex education for parents to help them talk to their children about sex, relationships and more. Programs are offered for preteens and teens.

“We have programs specific for each grade level (6-12). We also provide programming for youth-serving professionals; this is a program for any person who interacts with adolescents. This can be the coach, the nurse, caseworkers, a Big Sister, anybody like that, on how to have honest and accurate conversations with the young people in their life,” said Veronica Whitehead, Ntarupt’s director of programs and head sex educator.

For the OPA Tier 1 grant award Ntarupt has partnered with Uplift Education, a free public charter school network in North Texas, to implement an inclusive, evidence-based, human sexuality education program for scholars across the Uplift Education network.  

“For this grant in particular we are partnering with Uplift Education, however, our resources have always been and will continue to be available to any and all who seek them,” Whitehead said.

For the OPA Tier 2 grant award, Ntarupt is partnering with the University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work, one of 13 organizations selected nationally by the Office of Population Affairs (OPA) through the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services awarded, to pioneer the new Texas Foster Youth Health Initiative to promote optimal health for child welfare involved youth.

According to a press release, current systemic policies and practices limit access to vital sexual health information and skill development. As a result, females in Texas foster care are five times more likely to get pregnant than their same-age peers according to a Texans Care for Children Report released in 2018. Ntarupt will receive approximately $200,000 per year to fund coordination and facilitation of innovative interventions for foster, adoptive and birth parents, and foster youth and youth exposed to violence. 

“There isn’t a lot of debate or ambiguity on teaching math or English; we have good core concepts down in the delivery, and we see that they’re accepted. Sexual health education is exactly the same,” Whitehead said. “We know what the evidence tells us, what the research tells us on what is age appropriate and when young people should learn and know ... What we also know is what is ineffective, and sex education that is not science-based such as fear and scare tactics or shame tactics does not have a long term impact on young people.”

She added that when young people receive all of the information that are factual and evidenced-based they are more likely make healthy decisions for themselves.

“When you invest in young people, especially in young women, with information we know that they are more likely and most likely going to then turn around and make the healthiest decisions for themselves, which ends up being the most economically secure position for themselves,” Whitehead said.

According to Ntarupt’s website, teen childbearing costs Texas taxpayers at least $1.1 billion per year. In 2014, the cost of delivering children alone in Dallas County cost taxpayers almost $2 million.

To learn more about programs being offered, visit Talk About it Dallas at talkaboutitdallas.com.

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