Reflections on Hate: Lessons Learned from Charlottesville and Beyond

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As an organization, we prioritize bringing race, oppression, and inequity to our internal conversations – whether we’re talking about health disparities or eliminating coercion from contraceptive counseling or the ways our own staff and partners have experienced racism, homophobia, religious discrimination, and other forms of oppression.

We are proud to work with community partners who work directly to challenge oppression in all its forms. We condemn the overt promotion of racism and anti-Semitism, and the willingness of many to offer silent, tacit approval to those voices.

Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” We take that admonition to heart. At this moment in particular, we want to distance our work from silence and shine light on those leading the way to challenge hate.

SHIFT NC stands strongly in solidarity with communities and organizations opposing all forms of inequity and exclusion based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We believe that speaking out against oppression is an essential step toward making real change. We also know that oppression, inequity, and exclusion impact us, and they impact the young people we serve.

Bearing Witness to Our Common History

Racism, bias, and bigotry have no place in a just and healthy society. Unfortunately, there is a long history of racism and violation in our field and we see the ongoing impact when we do our work.

A few years ago, SHIFT NC conducted a door-to-door community survey about local views on teen pregnancy prevention. As our staff interviewed an older woman – an older white woman – she explained that teen pregnancy was only a problem among black girls. When our staff provided her with data proving that, in fact, the community had more white teen pregnancies, the response was, “oh, but the fathers are all black.” Again, most of the fathers were white. This story is not unique.

Modern gynecology itself was built from experiments on enslaved women. Even today, statues honor the perpetrator of those experiments rather than his enslaved victims, Anarcha, Betsey, Lucy and many more women whose names are lost in time. Devastating experiments on Puerto Rican women and African-American men fueled early understanding of contraceptives and sexually transmitted infections. More recently – within many of our lifetimes – North Carolina’s eugenics program was considered a justifiable public health strategy to reduce pregnancies deemed undesirable by white decision makers.

The legacy of this history is still visible. We see it in assumptions about who’s getting pregnant. We see it in a willingness to provide comprehensive sex education in alternative schools while preferring abstinence-only education in traditional schools.  We see it when communities of color are justifiably hesitant to engage with public health agencies.

First, we need to commit to having hard conversations with each other about how racism impacts our work, as well as the youth we serve and the professionals with whom we work. We also need to engage young people to do the same.

Helping Young People Grow Up Healthy

Although it’s a sad truth to reckon with, some young people are learning to hate – at home, in their communities, and, increasingly, on the Internet. We saw many young faces willingly display that hate in the open in Charlottesville, Boston, and other cities. We need to recognize that racism and bigotry don’t belong solely to past generations.

We must help create opportunities for young people to understand the world and the people around them and, ultimately, reject and address racism and bigotry. There’s no foolproof, evidence-based program for this, but we know that silence isn’t an option. We encourage ongoing conversation, research, and innovation to help us understand how to eliminate these elements from the lives of young people.

We Are With You

Finally, we want to express our solidarity with you.

For our partners who are people of color, LGBTQ+, and religious minorities: we cherish you, we stand with you, and we want you to know that we see you, we hear you, and we are listening.

For all our partners who work directly to support young people: we are so grateful for you. The lessons you provide help young people develop a sense of respect, community, responsibility, and empathy. Your support helps young people understand that they are valued. Moreover, you’re helping your communities understand the importance of serving adolescents and young adults.

For all our partners leading conversations to challenge racism and oppression: we applaud you. You are strengthening and setting a standard for our future.

We strongly believe that conversation, education, and action can make a difference. Sitting in that woman’s living room as we were going door-to-door, we heard her repeat what she had heard about teen pregnancy and race. We met her misperception with facts. We also listened to her and used the perspective to shape the community conversation on teen pregnancy.  

The events in Charlottesville and the conversations that have followed tell us that we, both as people and as an organization, need to talk more about race, about experiences of discrimination, and about how to build a more just – and healthy – society. We are committed to challenging racism and inequity one step at a time. We look forward to working with you to make North Carolina a better place for our young people.  


Additional resources on racism and sexual health:

Reproductive Injustice: Racial and Gender Discrimination in US Healthcare:

Advocates for Youth Resources for Youth of Color:

Ending White Supremacy in Ourselves: A Time for Nonprofit Action:

Congress Takes Unusual Steps to Cut Teen Pregnancy Prevention

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In early July, dozens of adolescent health organizations - including SHIFT NC - received notification from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) funding for evidence-based programs and interventions will end on June 30, 2018. Originally designed to wrap up in 2020, the TPP was providing more than $37 million to serve well over 70,000 North Carolina youth with evidence-based health education and youth development services. National policy experts have noted that ending this program early is highly unusual.
Affected Programs
Programs affected by this decision reach every corner of the state, and disproportionately affect youth at greater risk for unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. The cuts also impact ongoing research that would have provided new tools for helping young people. Programs affected include: 
  • SHIFT NC's North Carolina Youth Connected is helping Cumberland and Wayne counties develop large-scale community-wide initiatives to serve more than 50,000 youth and reduce teen pregnancy by 50% by 2020.
  • NC Department of Health and Human Services is coordinating evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programming in Richmond, Graham, and Edgecombe counties.
  • The New Jersey-based Center for Supportive Schools is rigorously evaluating a new model using high school juniors and seniors as peer mentors in rural high schools in North Carolina.
  • SHIFT NC's Every Teen Counts initiative is building the capacity of foster care agencies and juvenile detention centers to improve teen health using trauma-informed principles and evidence-based programs.
  • The Children's Home Society is rigorously evaluating their WISE Guys curriculum, which helps young men navigate relationships in healthy ways and avoid unplanned pregnancy.  
  • Cabarrus Health Alliance is rigorously evaluating Taking Responsible Actions In Life (TRAIL), a school-based program that promotes positive youth development, student leadership, and responsible decision making.
  • MyHealthEd, winners of the highly competitive Innovate Next Design Thinking Challenge, have started developing the "Real Talk" app to help teens get accurate, tailored health information at their own pace.  
What We Are Doing
In addition to making personal calls to our own representatives, our leadership team is working to develop and enact contingency plans to make sure that North Carolina has the resources it needs, has the programs it needs, and has the infrastructure it needs to help young people grow up healthy.
We will be working with our partners and supporters to help ensure that all of the adolescent health gains we've made together can continue.

Your Impact: Donors Making a Difference - Winter 2016

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Welcome to Your Impact: Donors Making a Difference, our newsletter to illustrate how our donors are making North Carolina a better place for young people. If you would like to support our work, make a donation today. 

In this Issue

New Name, New Look, New Initiatives - An Introduction

Feeling Grateful - Words of Thanks from Our CEO

Success Story: How Gaston Youth Connected Changed a Community

SHIFT NC's New Initiatives

Important Save the Dates

BrdsNBz Text Line Update

SHIFT NC Gives Teens a Powerful Voice: A Legislative Update

New Name, New Look, New Initiatives - An Introduction

This is an exceptional time for SHIFT NC (Sexual Health Initiatives For Teens), formerly the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina.  We are the only statewide nonprofit with over 30 years of history focusing on adolescent sexual health. Through our efforts and partnerships, North Carolina now has the lowest teen pregnancy rate in history. In 2015, we expanded our mission to have a more comprehensive impact on young people’s health.  Our mission is leading North Carolina to improve adolescent and young adult sexual health. Our work is accomplished by:

  • Helping schools and communities implement effective sexuality education
  • Making health care more teen-friendly
  • Strengthening parent-child relationships
  • Using technology to help teens connect with information and support
  • Encouraging evidence-based approaches
  • Getting policymakers the latest adolescent health information
  • Leveraging resources for local communities
  • Increasing public understanding of adolescent sexual health

Feeling Grateful - Words of Thanks from Our CEO

Thank you, thank you, thank you – 2015 was a year of gratitude for all of us at SHIFT NC.  Our gratitude begins with you for the financial investment you made to improve adolescent and young adult sexual health in North Carolina. In 2015, SHIFT NC celebrated 30 years of hard work – work founded on principles of providing marginalized youth with a voice through education, advocacy and access to reproductive and sexual healthcare.  In honor of our 30 years you helped us to raise close to $55,000 and because of your support SHIFT NC continues to uphold our founding principles. 

SHIFT NC experienced extraordinary growth and positive changes in 2015 after shifting our vision to make a more comprehensive impact on young people’s health. Our new name reflects what we’ve always done: shift policies, practices and communities so that teens and young adults can grow up healthy. We also started four new initiatives in communities across the state.  These four initiatives, through evidenced-based strategies in capacity building, advocacy, education and access to teen friendly reproductive and sexual healthcare, create environments so young people have the opportunity to grow up healthy.  With your financial investment, SHIFT NC is ensuring North Carolina young people and families have a powerful voice in advocating for access to quality, comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive healthcare.

All the Best,

Kay Phillips. CEO

Success Story: How Gaston Youth Connected Changed a Community

In 2010, SHIFT NC—then the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina—kicked off the beginning of an extraordinary success story. We launched a novel demonstration initiative to address teen pregnancy in one community – Gaston County, North Carolina.  The Gaston Youth Connected initiative took a multi-pronged approach to help the community address longstanding problematic teen pregnancy and teen birth rates by using an array of evidence-based approaches.  Our goal was to decrease the teen birth rate by 10% in 5 years.  The impact? A 39% decline! Gaston Youth Connected not only achieved significant health gains for Gaston County, it provided major lessons for how North Carolina can approach teen pregnancy prevention. 

Read our newly released report How Gaston Youth Connected Changed a Community - and New Lessons for North Carolina

SHIFT NC's New Initiatives

Healthy Youth of Onslow & NC Youth Connected

SHIFT NC launched Healthy Youth of Onslow in 2014 to rally community leaders to raise awareness of local teen pregnancy needs. This work paved the way for NC Youth Connected, a 5-year initiative in both Onslow and Cumberland Counties that incorporates evidence-based strategies in program implementation, clinic improvement, and linking youth to healthcare. Between 2015 and 2020, SHIFT NC anticipates a 50% reduction in teen pregnancies across these two counties. Read more about NC Youth Connected... 

Every Teen Counts

Every Teen Counts is a new initiative to boost the capacity of North Carolina’s foster care and juvenile justice systems to provide trauma-informed pregnancy prevention services. Foster care agencies and juvenile detention centers serving nine counties will receive capacity building services to strengthen how they help some of North Carolina’s most vulnerable young people. Read more about Every Teen Counts... 

All Together Now & Greensboro Health Access Initiative (name TBD)

SHIFT NC is embarking on two major clinic improvement and linking initiatives in Greensboro, in partnership with Cone Health Foundation, and Durham County. Both initiatives will improve the teen-friendliness of partner health providers, while creating strong community networks to help link young people to the care they need. Read more about All Together Now...

Important Save the Dates

“First Period” Social Fundraising Campaign, May 1-May 31, 2016

Help make school a less awkward place to start your period! Stay tuned for our First Period Campaign—a truly unique opportunity for you to support young women and help us normalize adolescent sexual health as part of overall health and development.

2016 SHIFT NC Annual Conference, “Small Steps, Giant Leaps: Propelling Adolescent Sexual Health Forward”, Wednesday, May 11 –Friday, May 13, 2016

Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center, RTP Go to registration information... 

Take Flight with SHIFT NC, Saturday, September 17, 2016, 6:00 pm

Annual benefit, fundraiser, auction at the Millennium Hotel Durham

Contact Jean Workman at for more information on these and other opportunities.

BrdsNBz Text Line Update

The BrdsNBz North Carolina Text Line provides confidential, factually accurate answers to sexual health questions via text message. A NC young person ages 13-19 simply texts a question, and a trained health educator responds within 24 hours. In 2015, there were a total number of 755 questions submitted to the NC BrdsNBz Text line. 152 questions were from first-time users of to BrdsNBz North Carolina. 

What do teens ask? 

“Does he like me?”

“Can you get pregnant & still have a period?”

“What should I do if I want to break up with a boy and he says that we are never breaking up?”

“How soon after sex can I take a pregnancy test?”

SHIFT NC Gives Teens a Powerful Voice: A Legislative Update

Protecting Minor’s Consent for Health Services

In 2015, SHIFT NC led a coalition to protect one of North Carolina’s most meaningful adolescent health laws. North Carolina law protects a minor’s right to consent to certain health services, including to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of: pregnancy, STDs, mental health, or substance abuse. Research shows that laws like this encourage healthy behaviors, stop the spread of infections, reduce teen pregnancy rates, and encourages connections with helpful adults. Furthermore, 83% of North Carolina parents favor the current minor’s consent law.

North Carolina’s minor’s consent law is one of the most powerful tools we have for increasing access to health care. In focus group after focus group, confidentiality fears are named as one of the biggest barriers that prevent young people from accessing needed pregnancy prevention and STI testing and treatment services. Once those youth get in the clinic door, providers are often able to help create connections to parents or guardians. In addition, the law is a lifeline for youth who may be experiencing abuse, incest, neglect, or human trafficking. 

In 2015, the North Carolina General Assembly debated a bill that would have eliminated a minor’s ability to consent for health services and required notarized parental consent for the health services covered by the current law—a bar higher than nearly any other health services. We are proud to have led the effort to protect young people and prevent this dangerous change.

Keeping Health Education Strong and Effective

SHIFT NC has been a leader in helping North Carolina school systems implement the 2009 Healthy Youth Act. The law requires schools to include information on abstinence, medically accurate information on HIV and STDs, FDA-approved contraception, healthy dating relationships, and awareness of and risk reduction for sexual assault and abuse. SHIFT NC has provided schools serving more than 25% of the state’s students with intensive training and coaching to implement the law with high-quality, effective educational strategies. 

Lawmakers made two changes to the Healthy Youth Act during the 2015 session. The law was amended to include information on sex trafficking. In addition, lawmakers loosened standards for who can approve teaching materials. SHIFT NC is working closely with schools to help them adapt to these changes while maintaining the focus on quality and accuracy.



How Gaston Youth Connected Changed a Community - and New Lessons for North Carolina

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North Carolina has experienced record declines in its teen pregnancy and teen birth rates. However, many communities and many populations still experience disparately high rates of teen pregnancy and teen birth. In 2010, we launched a novel demonstration initiative to address teen pregnancy in Gaston County, North Carolina. The Gaston Youth Connected initiative took a multi-pronged approach to help the community address longstanding problematic teen pregnancy and teen birth rates by using an array of evidence-based approaches. After five years, the initiative resulted in significant health gains for Gaston County — and provided major lessons for how North Carolina can approach teen pregnancy prevention.

How Gaston Youth Connected Changed a Community - and New Lessons for North Carolina is a supplemental report on the State of Adolescent Sexual Health that details: 

  • Major components of Gaston Youth Connected and how they worked; 
  • Lessons learned that can serve other communities; and 
  • How North Carolina is building on the lessons of Gaston Youth Connected. 

Read How Gaston Youth Connected Changed a Community - and New Lessons for North Carolina

Why #SpiritDay Matters

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October 15th is Spirit Day, a day to go purple and show that you support LGBT youth – and SHIFT NC is proud to be an official participant.

SHIFT NC exists to help young people grow up healthy, specifically by helping adults understand and support adolescent sexual health. This includes making North Carolina a safer, more inclusive, more supportive place for LGBT youth.

Nearly 1 in 5 North Carolina middle school students and 1 in 10 high school students have been the target of bullying because someone thinks they’re lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

The national data is more thorough and similarly disturbing:

  • More than 75% of LGBT youth experience some sort of harassment at school.
  • More than half experience harassment from a teacher or school administrator.
  • Most LGBT students who experience harassment at school don’t report it because they fear that it’ll be ineffective – or worse.

We’re committed to helping make North Carolina a better place for our LGBT youth, on #SpiritDay and beyond.

As a part of this year-round commitment, we:

  • Train school personnel all across North Carolina on how to be an ally to LGBT youth
  • Help schools develop strong policies, practices, and procedures to prevent and respond to bullying
  • Work with health educators and healthcare providers to help them understand that LGBT youth need the same access to confidential, nonjudgmental information and health care – including contraceptive access – that all young people need
  • Work to make health information and health education inclusive

We hope you’ll join us by signing on to go purple today and showing LGBT youth that they have your care and support. 

Back to School = Back to Sex Ed

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A new school year means new teachers, new classes, and – for some North Carolina students – new sex ed. If you’re a parent, you should know what to expect.

North Carolina Schools: Leading the Way

Since the 2010-11 academic year, North Carolina schools have been required to provide students in grades 7-9 with comprehensive sex education, or what the schools call Reproductive Health and Safety Education. Overall, in these grades, students should learn medically accurate, age appropriate information about:

  • Abstinence
  • All FDA-approved methods of contraception
  • Ways to avoid HIV and STDs, including HPV
  • Relationships, including how to avoid/prevent abuse, violence, and sexual assault

These baseline recommendations fit nicely with what we, along with experts from organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend for students in this age group. You can check out the full set of Essential Standards that students are supposed to learn in Reproductive Health and Safety Education.


North Carolina’s sex ed law (which passed as the Healthy Youth Act) is the good news… Unfortunately, not every school follows the law. In some cases, schools haven’t had the resources to train teachers and buy new teaching materials. In other cases, administrators are afraid of controversy – even though about 90% of parents want their kids to get the information included under the new law.

At APPCNC, we work with school systems to help them update their policies, practices, and procedures so that they can meet the new standards, and ultimately provide students with a great education. In a workshop called “Awkward to Awesome”, we train teachers to feel comfortable answering the craziest question a 7th grader can muster. We help schools examine different lesson plans and curricula to see what fits both the law and their local community. We also help get everyone in a school system on the same page – so teachers feel supported by their principal; so principals feel supported by their central office, and so no one feels heartburn about getting students important health information.

Your Role as a Parent

North Carolina’s sex ed law specifically encourages parent participation – but it varies from district to district. If your child’s school offers a parent night, we encourage you to go. Your child may also have homework that encourages you to share your thoughts and values about sex and relationships. Do it. It’s important.

If you’re uncomfortable with the sex ed that your child is being provided, you can opt them out. However, we encourage you to talk with the teacher first to try to understand what’s being taught. Always know that:

  1. Comprehensive sex ed will help your child stay healthier.
  2. Students who receive comprehensive sex ed stay abstinent longer and are far more likely to be safe and responsible later in life than students who get no sex ed or abstinence-only sex ed.
  3. Comprehensive sex ed does not encourage early sexual activity and won’t make your child more likely to have sex.

Finally, show your child’s teacher and principal that you support comprehensive sex ed. Fear of controversy is a big barrier to great education. Your vocal support can help make things better for everyone.