Teen Pregnancy Prevention
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United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Teen Pregnancy Prevention

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Teen birth rates for girls 15 to 17 years old have dropped 65% in Milwaukee since 2006, when one out of every 20 girls gave birth to a child. In 2008, the goal was to reduce teen birth rates by 46% by 2015 – it was considered one of the most ambitious goals ever set in the nation.

In 2013 the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative announced another ambitious goal – to reduce the 2013 overall rate by another 50%, to 11.4 births per 1,000, by 2023. The initiative’s success is attributed to an all-hands-on-deck approach adopted by the community, which has been honored nationally as a model for other cities.

This work has been recognized by United Way Worldwide, Mutual of America and the White House Council for Community Solutions and was included in a report on successful community collaborations to President Barack Obama.


Teen pregnancy profoundly, and in most cases negatively, affects the lives of those involved while costing the community millions of dollars through direct care, ancillary services, and the overall drain on the workforce. Most alarming is the connection between Milwaukee's teen pregnancy epidemic and vicious, cyclical poverty.

Since 2006, the Greater Milwaukee community has invested significant resources to aggressively combat what was then one of the worst teen birth rates in the nation. United Way convened a communitywide collaborative to bring the issue to the forefront of public attention and change the historically high rate of teen births.


To ensure we continue to address teen pregnancy, United Way:

  • Brings together representatives from business, government, education, the medical field, the faith community, law enforcement and other nonprofits to create a focused, cumulative effort.
  • Invests in Healthy Youth Initiative programs to educate youth about the consequences of teen pregnancy and teach skills needed to cope with social pressures, with the goal of delaying sexual activity and avoiding pregnancy.
  • Maintains BabyCanWait.com to provide a resource of medically accurate age-appropriate information on preventing pregnancy and promoting healthy relationships for youth. 
  • Encourages parents/guardians to talk to the youth in their lives by distributing the Family Communication Toolkit, available free of charge in English and Spanish.
  • Works with Serve Marketing to develop a robust public awareness campaign (see below for more information on Community Media Efforts).
  • Released the 5-year progress report If Truth Be Told in May, 2011.

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Community Media Efforts

Serve Marketing has done an amazing job developing the look and messaging for all media-driven
teen pregnancy prevention campaigns since 2006.


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Teen Pregnancy Prevention Oversight Committee


  • Dr. LaRoyce Chambers - Community Leader
  • Nicole Angresano - United Way


  • Shalon Atkins - New Concept Self Development Center
  • Maria Barker - Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin
  • Marcia Blackman - United Way
  • Julie Bock - Community Leader
  • Elizabeth Brenner - Community Leader
  • Sharon Canter - Community Leader
  • Maryann Clesceri - The Healing Center
  • Gerry Coon - Diverse & Resilient
  • Julie Divjak - United Way
  • Brett Fuller - Milwaukee Public Schools
  • Dr. Charlene Gaebler-Uhing - Children's Wisconsin
  • Susan Hackl - Community Leader
  • Nancy Hahn - Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Dawn Helmrich - United Way
  • Gary Hollander - Community Leader
  • Christine Holmes - Penfield Children's Center
  • Gerry Howze - PEARLS for Teen Girls
  • Mark Huber - Advocate Aurora Health
  • Julie Katrichis - Milwaukee Health Department
  • Molly Lancelot - Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin
  • Amy Lindner - United Way
  • Linda Mellowes - Community Leader
  • Gwen Moore - United States Congress
  • Gary Mueller - Serve
  • Candy Pindyck - Community Leader
  • Carmen Pitre -  Sojourner Family Peace Center
  • Kelly Quilty - Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee
  • Patricia Ruiz-Canter - City of Milwaukee
  • Kari Southern - Community Advocates Public Policy Institute
  • Lauren Sutter - Serve Marketing
  • Melissa Ugland -  Ugland Associates
  • Elysse Wageman - Desiderata Partners
  • Meredith Welch - Milwaukee Public Schools
  • Linda Williams - Milwaukee Public Schools
  • John Yopps - Jewish Family Services
  • Mary Lou Young - Community Leader
Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative Partners

Community Based Organizations and Programs: Healthy Youth programs implement evidence-based programming to prevent teen pregnancy and sexual violence. In 2014-15, United Way will invest $674,000 in Healthy Youth programming at 14 organizations, proposing to serve more than 3,300 youth.

Colleges and Universities: United Way continues its collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Center for Urban Population Health to facilitate the Healthy Youth data project. In addition, United Way serves as an intern placement site, and placement for Public Ally members.

Local Media: United Way continues its public awareness campaign with SERVE Marketing. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel keeps teen pregnancy on the front burner and continues to focus on the issue. Other media partners, like ClearChannel Outdoor, Marcus Theaters, CW18 and My 24, ensure the messages reach the community.

The Faith Community: Volunteers, representing many faiths, are working toward increasing the dialogue and capacity among religious institutions to directly impact the issue of teen pregnancy. To date, over 40 adults have been trained as facilitators of "Keeping it Real", a faith-based sexual health curriculum. In September 2011, United Way and Christ the King hosted a facilitator training - 14 more adults are now ready to implement the curriculum in four places of worship. Over 85 local teens have already graduated from the eight-week, intensive curriculum.

Collaborative Fund: In March of 2006, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Advisory Committee released its results at the United Way Women’s Initiative luncheon in the report If Truth be Told: Teen Pregnancy, Public Health and the Cycle of Poverty. This report resulted in nine core recommendations, including creating a collaborative funding strategy to create a strategic and effective community response to teen pregnancy. The Collaborative Fund committee supports programming that would enable us to reach an aggressive but achievable goal of reducing births to teens by 46% by the year 2015.  In spring 2009, the inaugural Collaborative Fund launched with six members: Brico Fund, Faye McBeath Foundation, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Johnson Controls, Inc. Foundation, Rockwell Automation Foundation, and United Way of Greater Milwaukee. Between 2011-2013, 3 additional funders joined: Aurora Health Care Foundation, The Davis Family Fund, and The Daniel M. Soref Charitable Trust. Each funding partner contributes $50,000, and actively participates in the grant making process.  To date, over $875,000 new dollars have been invested in community programs that address teen pregnancy and sexual violence prevention.

Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS): United Way worked with MPS and other community leaders to revise human growth and development (HGD) curriculum. Community members were given an opportunity to review the materials and make suggestions about content. Between 2009-11 fourth- and fifth-grade teachers received training in the new HGD curriculum. This training was supported by a grant from United Way. The goal is to have consistent and thorough implementation at all grade levels by 2012.

United Way Women's Leadership: Members of United Way's Women's Leadership program continue to turn their concern into action. Because of the generosity and strength of these women, United Way is able to support and grow the critical work of this initiative. In 2013, United Way’s Healthy Youth Initiative investment in in evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention and sexual violence prevention for young people of all genders increased to $671,000 because of the money this group raised. United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County's total Healthy Youth investment to date is over $5.5 million.

The Women United Endowment Fund will be used to support evidence-based strategies that align with United Way’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative in perpetuity. This fund recognizes the outstanding efforts of Elizabeth Brenner and the women and men who have made significant investments of time, talent, and treasure in this important initiative since its inception. 

See full list of founding members.

For more information please contact ​Shemagne O'Keefe Mullins at 414.263.8202 or via email.