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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Announces Grant Recipients for $18 Million Dollar Initiative to Prevent Intimate Partner Violence

Nationwide initiative aims to engage 6th to 8th grade youth in groundbreaking community-wide approach to build healthy relationships and prevent teen dating violence and abuse

Blue Shield of California Foundation joins Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in one of the largest national investments ever made to prevent teen dating violence and abuse

PRINCETON, N.J., Nov. 19 /PRNewswire/ --TheRobert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announces today the 11 grant recipients of an unprecedented four year initiative, Start Strong:Building Healthy Teen Relationships, to create and evaluate new ways to prevent teen dating violence and abuse. This effort goes beyond individual prevention tactics to build community-wide prevention models designed to have a significant impact on adolescents. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, RWJF is making its first investment in the prevention of intimate partner violence to move the issue to the forefront of public health concerns and stimulate new pathways for prevention.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and its California partner Blue Shield of California Foundation (BSCF) are investing $18 million to prevent teen dating violence and abuse. With 11 sites from around the country, the Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships (BHTR) initiative will enable communities to create and evaluate comprehensive models of prevention of this serious public health issue. RWJF has selected the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF), one of the nation's leading organizations working to prevent domestic and sexual violence, to serve as the national program office for BHTR. In partnership with RWJF, the Family Violence Prevention Fund helped to design the BHTR initiative and will direct its implementation.

RWJF will fund ten sites and as the California partner for BHTR, BSCF will fund one California site. This philanthropic partnership leverages dollars in California, while combining the complementary expertise of both foundations to advance collective learning on how to prevent teen dating violence and abuse. Working collaboratively with the 11 local sites, FVPF will create a learning community to prevent teen dating violence and sexual abuse, sharing its expertise in leading national initiatives and creating social change, as well as providing guidance and technical assistance to the sites.

"Our focus on preventing intimate partner violence fits squarely into the mission of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Vulnerable Populations Portfolio. Intimate partner violence is one of the nation's most serious public health problems. In addition to physically injuring women and men, it undermines the fundamental idea of family as a place of support and nurture. Our health and well being are critically connected to how we live, work, learn and play," says James Marks, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Vice President and Director, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Group. "Our goal is to discover new public health models that can, of course, prevent relationship violence and even more help our young people build relationships of warmth and mutual support, and that is why the focus on adolescents is essential."

The 11 grant recipients were chosen after a rigorous seven month selection process, which drew more than 500 applications from different sites across the country. A National Advisory Committee comprised of the nation's leading scholars, advocates and domestic violence service providers, working with the Family Violence Prevention Fund and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, selected 56 organizations to submit full proposals. Each site, targeting diverse communities, will receive a grant award of up to $1 million dollars over the next four years.

Sites will be required to design and implement a prevention model that builds on promising approaches to preventing relationship violence across four program components: educate and engage youth in schools and out of school settings; educate and engage teen influencers such as parents, teachers and other mentors; change policy and environmental factors; and implement communications strategies to promote positive social norms.

Collectively, Start Strong:Building Healthy Teen Relationships is comprised of 41 organizations and aims to impact approximately 90,000 youth in 400+ schools, representing more than 60 school districts.

"Through Building Healthy Teen Relationships, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is making a significant investment in preventing a major public health problem," said Esta Soler, President of the Family Violence Prevention Fund. "We are thrilled to be the National Program Office for this prevention initiative that has extraordinary potential to create tangible breakthroughs for ending teen dating violence and abuse."

The 11 Building Healthy Teen Relationships sites are:

1. Boston Public Health Commission (Boston's Health Department), Boston, MA: "Building Healthy Teen Relationship: Boston"

Partners: Boston Centers for Youth and Families, Center on Media and Child Health at Children's Hospital, and Roxbury Multi-Service Center.

2. Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, Bronx, NY: "Bronx Partnership for Healthy Adolescent Relationships" (BxPHAR)

Partners: NYC Department of Education, Bronx Borough President's Office, and Sanctuary for Families.

3. Catholic Charities, Wichita, KS: "Wichita Building Healthy Teen Relationship Project"

Partners: Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center, Wichita Public School District, Wichita State University Department of Sociology and the Center for Community Support and Research.

4. Clarian Health, Indianapolis, IN: "Building Healthy Teen Relationships"

Partners: Ruth Lily Health Education Center, Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, and the Domestic Violence Network of Greater Indianapolis.

5. Emory University, Atlanta, GA: "Celebration"

Partners: Grady Hospital and Atlanta Public Schools.

6. Family Violence Law Center, Oakland, CA: "Youth PEERS (Preventing, Engaging Education, Responding, and Supporting) against dating violence"

Partners: Youth ALIVE, Youth Radio, and the Oakland Unified School District.

7. Idaho Coalition against Sexual and Domestic Violence, Boise, ID: "Southwest Idaho Building Healthy Teen Relationships Initiative"

Partners: St. Luke's Regional Medical Center and the Idaho Department of Education.

8. Peace over Violence, Los Angeles, CA: "Teens over Violence"

Partners: Los Angeles Unified School District, University of Southern California Institute for Media Literacy and El Centro del Pueblo.

9. RYASAP, Bridgeport, CT: "MYO: Mine, Yours, and Ours -- What's Right in Relationships"

Partners: Greater Bridgeport Pregnancy Prevention Program, Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County, and the Connecticut Area Health Educators Center.

10. SafePlace, Austin, TX: "The Northeast Austin Teen Relationships Project"

Partners: Austin Independent School District, Boys and Girls Club of the Capital Area, and Seton Family of Hospitals.

11. Sojourner House, Providence, RI: "Core Peace Collaborative"

Partners: Rhode Island Department of Education and Young Voices.

"We're excited to partner with Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to promote innovative prevention strategies," said Crystal Hayling, BSCF's President and CEO. "California's teens will help lead the way to positive change in preventing teen dating violence."

One of the several distinguishing elements in Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships is its focus on diverse and creative partnerships. They range from schools and after-school programs, to hospitals, government agencies, universities, among others, all working together to change social and cultural norms that influence 6th, 7th, and 8th graders and their families.

Each site will work with 6th to 8th grade youth in and out of schools, while utilizing older teens as mentors. Partners will engage and train a range of youth influencers, including older teens, teachers, coaches, and parents among others. Sites will endeavor to address and change policies that reinforce healthy relationships within schools, youth settings, and the larger community. They will also utilize cutting edge social marketing and new media and technology strategies to impact youth, families and influencers in their communities and promote positive relationship behaviors. Importantly, in each of these 11 sites, teens will play a role in designing and implementing program activities.

Another distinctive feature of the Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships program is its research and evaluation element. As part of the funding, 2.2 million dollars are directed to determine what factors and program components will have the greatest impact and offer replicable solutions. This research will help sites determine what is most effective, what can be replicated and what can be sustained. RTI International, based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, will manage the research and evaluation process.

About Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, we work with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years we've brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those we serve. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, we expect to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information visit

About Blue Shield of California Foundation

Blue Shield of California Foundation, one of the largest healthcare grant making organizations in California, has committed a total of over $22 million in the past six years to ending domestic violence in the state. For more information, please visit the Web site at The Foundation was formed by Blue Shield of California, a not-for-profit corporation with more than 3.4 million members, 4700 employees and more than 20 offices throughout California. For more information about the company, please visit

About Family Violence Prevention Fund

The Family Violence Prevention Fund works to end violence against women and children around the world, because every person has the right to live free of violence. The FVPF's NationalHealthResourceCenter on Domestic Violence provides critical information to thousands of health care providers, institutions, domestic violence service providers, government agencies, researchers and policy makers each year. Its public education campaigns, conducted in partnership with The Advertising Council, have shaped public awareness and changed social norms for 15 years. For more information, visit

    Press Contact: Amy Terpeluk
    Tel: 212-583-2792

SOURCE The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
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