MISSOULA – A University of Montana center recently secured a $7.1 million grant to help prevent unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases among young American Indian populations.
The five-year grant was earned by UM’s Center for Children, Families and Workforce Development. It was funded by the U.S. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health and Office of Population Affairs.
The UM center will provide evidence-based programs for young Natives in Montana, Arizona and New Mexico. The Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Indigenous Health is a key partner on the grant.
“This multiyear, multistate prevention grant will provide transformative and foundational infrastructure from which American Indian youth will be supported, served and valued within their tribal culture,” said Dr. Kristen Rogers, the center’s principal investigator on the grant, which will create a new program titled Native Youth POWER.
She said the multistate project will focus on reducing teen birth and sexually transmitted infection rates among Native youth, which consistently are the highest rates of any ethnic minority group.
“We will provide training on pregnancy prevention, spacing and delay, including sexually transmitted infection prevention and intervention,” Rogers said. “A main goal of this project is to reduce pregnancies in Native youth while respecting cultural norms of family and tribal connectedness.”
In Montana, Native youth who access health and mental health care at All Nations Health Center in Missoula or Rocky Boy Health Center on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation will receive targeted, culturally appropriate interventions in regards to pregnancy and STD prevention.
“We are committed to advancing health equity across the state,” said Kate Chapin, executive director of the UM center. “This new partnership with Johns Hopkins University will provide Montana with the tools and expertise to better serve one of the most vulnerable populations in Montana – American Indian youth. We are honored to receive this five-year award.”
With the Navajo Nation in Arizona and New Mexico, the new prevention programs will be implemented at summer camps and in reservation school districts.
“Focused education for this high-risk group is going to benefit their families and our entire community,” said Sandra Friede, a public health nurse at the Rocky Boy Health Center, which provides health and mental health care to its tribal community.
Skye McGinty is executive director of the All Nations Health Center, which serves more than 18 tribes throughout Montana. She said, “We are thrilled to partner with the University of Montana, the Chippewa Cree Tribe of Montana and the Navajo Nation on culturally appropriate reproductive education. Decolonizing our bodies starts with the kind of empowerment this grant will provide for Native youth and their families.”
Rogers said the efforts will employ a community-engaged, participatory approach to program implementation. The program will have a foundational methodology in trauma-informed care and positive youth development. Community and youth advisory boards within each setting will assist UM and Johns Hopkins staff in overseeing, implementing and monitoring all project activities.
Contact: Kristen Rogers; research and evaluation director; UM Center for Children, Families and Workforce Development; 406-243-5465; email@example.com.