242512 Building Partnerships, Empowering Girls: The GEMS Program as a Best Practice in Community Partnerships

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ria Garner, MA , Social and Behavioral Intervention Division, Messages of Empowerment Productions, Atlanta, GA
Quinn Gentry, MBA, PhD , Urban Health Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
With statistics indicating that 70% of all new cases of HIV among young people in the US are African Americans, reaching this vulnerable population in the communities where they live is paramount. While integrating HIV prevention education into existing youth programs sounds practical enough, establishing and maintaining successful partnerships with youth-serving agencies requires intense planning and engagement across the programmatic life course.

This presentation focuses on how the GEMS Program (Girls Empowered and Motivated to Succeed) applied Tuckman's organizational change theory as a guiding paradigm to manage community partnership development across critical phases, including “forming, storming, norming, and performing”. Strategically managing these partnerships has resulted in the GEMS program being institutionalized in youth-serving organizations in diverse settings. Since 2007, 15 successful partnerships have resulted in approximately 300 high risk girls between the ages of 9 and 18 receiving HIV prevention education over a 6 or 9-month implementation phase. Diverse community partnerships include the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, an alternative school for girls, and group homes for girls in child protective custody or in juvenile custody. Core elements of effective partnership development and maintenance that have been documented for replication include: (1) partnership agreements, (2) programmatic protocols, (3) parental buy-in, (4) population-friendly approaches, (5) physical space negotiation, (6) personnel and personality management, and (7) protective factors that complement positive youth development.

Comprehensive partnership engagement results in better access and opportunities to reach and retain young people in their own communities where sexual risk-taking occurs.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Administration, management, leadership
Advocacy for health and health education
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the rationale for integrating HIV prevention into community-based settings for young girls of color 2. Highlight how to use Tuckman’s theory of organizational change to address partnership issues across the life course of a community program 3. Assess best practices for sustaining successful partnerships over longer periods of time

Keywords: Youth, Community Programs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Ria Garner serves as the program manager and evaluator for the GEMS program.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.