Evaluation of the California Wellness Foundation Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Initiative

Investigator: Claire Brindis, DrPH
Sponsor: Philliber Research Associates

Location(s): United States


The issue of teenage pregnancy prevention was prominent in some of the earliest Board discussions at The California Wellness Foundation. When the Foundation was established in 1992, California led the nation with more than 60,000 births to teens. The pregnancy rate among 15-to-19-year-olds in the United States was 111 per 1,000. In California, the rate was the highest in the country at 157 per 1,000, or 41 percent higher than the national average.(2) Of particular concern, teen pregnancy was also associated with significant health complications (e.g., low birthweight deliveries) and with a variety of social concerns (e.g., school dropout and a higher likelihood of living in poverty).

It was within this challenging context that TCWF’s Board approved a 10-year, $60 million funding initiative in 1995. Several on the staff and Board had extensive prior experience in teen pregnancy prevention work, and TCWF assembled an advisory committee composed of seasoned veterans of efforts to prevent teen pregnancy around the country. As a group, they had been frustrated by past program failures and were tired of the typical constraints that government and other funders had imposed on those efforts. They were also very concerned about the new wave of politically motivated attempts to replace more balanced approaches to sex education with simplistic “abstinence only” curricula.