Mayor Menino Announces $1 Million Grant from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

BOSTON - Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced today that the Boston Public Health Commission is one of only 11 organizations nationwide to be awarded up to $1 million by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for a new, four-year initiative to address intimate partner violence and community violence among teens.

Called "Building Healthy Teen Relationships: Boston,'' the program will focus on youth in parts of Dorchester and Roxbury and be operated by the Commission, in collaboration with Boston Centers for Youth and Families, the Center on Media and Child Health at Children's Hospital, and Roxbury Multi-Service Center. It will include a curriculum in several Boston public middle schools that is expected to extend to as many as 1,500 students.

"We are thrilled that Boston was selected for this nationwide initiative," Mayor Menino said. "By taking proactive steps to educate our teens about healthy relationships, we are encouraging them to respect, not just their peers, but their community in general. This program will promote safer and healthier communities.''

As part of its initiative, the Public Health Commission will seek to address both intimate partner violence and community violence through the city's new multi-agency Violence Intervention & Prevention initiative (VIP). VIP is a strategic approach to address and prevent violence through coordinated social service, education, resident engagement, and media. In addition, the Robert Wood Johnson-funded prevention project will give attention to gender differences, including examining the phenomenon of power and control as it relates to sexual and physical violence among teens, as well as cyber bullying.

Elements of the "Building Healthy Teen Relationships: Boston" initiative will include teaching healthy relationship skills to teens. Additionally, a series of "Family Fun Events" at the community centers will bring young people and families together to interactively impart and practice what they have learned through the initiative. Teen peer mentors at Roxbury Multi-Service Center, which has been conducting an innovative teen-led project on cyber bullying, will work with Public Health Commission on a social marketing campaign to raise awareness about dating abuse.

"Intimate partner violence is one of our nation's most serious public health problems,'' said James Marks, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Vice President and Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Group.
"In addition to severely physically injuring women and men, it undermines the fundamental idea of family as a place of support and nurture. It is well past time we looked at prevention and the Boston Public Health Commission is a leader in taking steps to building coalition to end intimate partner violence," he said. "We congratulate them in their successful grant application and are eager to see the impact they and our other grantees will make for families in their communities."

As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and healthcare of all Americans, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is working to discover new public-health models that can not only reduce intimate partner violence among teens through intervention, but can change attitudes and behaviors that transform social norms about intimate partner violence overall.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and its California partner Blue Shield of California Foundation (BSCF) are investing $18 million to prevent teen dating violence and abuse. With 11 sites from around the country, the Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships (BHTR) initiative will enable communities to create and evaluate comprehensive models of prevention of this serious public health issue. RWJF has selected the Family Violence Preventio