Children’s Home Society of NC has been awarded a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) to implement and evaluate its Wise Guys program in Iredell-Statesville Schools.
Wise Guys, created in 1990, is an innovative male responsibility and teen pregnancy prevention program. This interactive, engaging and informative approach is designed to help male adolescents make wiser and more responsible decisions.
“This grant is of particular significance because it will allow us to evaluate an adapted Wise Guys model that has been years in the making,” said Brian Maness, President & CEO of Children’s Home Society. “Major investments through the acclaimed Social Innovation Fund, along with support from leading foundations, have allowed us to expand the program to more communities in North Carolina in recent years. This new initiative in Iredell County will allow us to expand even further while also conducting a rigorous evaluation of our success.”
Wise Guys has grown from serving 500 boys in Greensboro in 1996 to 4,300 boys in 14 counties last year. “This is a continuance of our commitment to build and continually improve Wise Guys by establishing it as an evidence-based program with the highest level of research,” Maness said.
Approximately 300 ninth, 10th and 11th grade males will be recruited each semester for five semesters from high schools in Iredell-Statesville Schools to participate in the evaluation.
“Implementing Wise Guys with our already existing pregnancy prevention programs will enhance our school district’s commitment to lowering teen birth rates in Iredell County.” said Linda Rogers, Grant Project Director for Iredell-Statesville Schools.
Rick Brown, Director of the Wise Guys program for CHS, shared quotes from students who have participated in the program:
- “Wise Guys helped me become more responsible. It helped me learn to respect people and their voices and feelings.”
- “I was thinking about having sex, but Wise Guys helped me see that it’s okay to wait until I’m really ready.”
- “The program helped me stay safe, so I don’t get an STD.”
“Wise Guys is unique in targeting males to prevent teen pregnancy,” said Dr. Donna Elliston, Senior Associate with Abt Associates, evaluation partner. “We look forward to the opportunity of working closely with this well-known program and providing a high level of evaluation on its effectiveness.”
This OAH grant was one of more than $86 million in teen pregnancy prevention grants made to non-profit organizations, school districts, universities, and others. The 81 new grants are expected to serve more than 291,000 youth each year in communities where teen birth rates remain high.
The OAH grants support replication of evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs in communities with the greatest need; increase capacity in communities to serve vulnerable youth, including homeless youth, parenting youth and those in juvenile detention and foster care; fill gaps in the knowledge of what works to prevent teen pregnancy; and test new, innovative approaches to combating teen pregnancy.