From Promise to Proof—20 Years of Success

National Campaign CEO Ginny  Ehrlich talks with Thomisha Rader, Peer Advocate with the Children’s Law Center, and Bettyeruth Davis, Youth Advocate, Alliance for Children’s Rights

Teen pregnancy rates are at historic lows. Unplanned pregnancy among single women in their 20’s is declining for the first time in years. This remarkable progress is due in part to—rather than in spite of—popular media.

Two decades ago, we thought that working with popular media was a promising way to help make progress on a complex social issue. Now, we have proof that it does: MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” helped accelerate the decline in teen births; and young viewers of Hulu’s East Los High say they are more likely to use condoms when they have sex. That’s why the National Campaign has partnered with entertainment media as part of its overall strategy, encouraging and informing stories about teen and unplanned pregnancies, birth control, sex, love and relationships. Two-thirds of young people age 12 to 24 believe that one reason for the decline in teen pregnancy over the last 20 years is that it’s a more frequent topic in popular media.

How exactly does media help? Seven in 10 young people say they have learned something useful about sex, love or relationships from popular media like TV shows or movies. Identifying with someone—real or fictional—and watching them handle a tough situation with grace, or blow it and then face the consequences—can spark meaningful conversations and help audiences figure out what they’d do in a similar situation before they’re actually in it.  

Campaign Board Member and Media Advisor Susanne Daniels with Campaign CEO Ginny Ehrlich

Last week, more than 120 media, community and business leaders joined Television Academy Chairman and CEO and The National Campaign’s Board Member Bruce Rosenblum and CEO Ginny Ehrlich for an evening of celebration, connection and inspiration. Rosenblum and Ehrlich, along with Board Member Susanne Daniels, showcased Hollywood’s role in reducing teen and unplanned pregnancy and highlighted The National Campaign’s broader work in states and communities, with parents and young people and across many influential sectors. Ehrlich led a lively conversation with Bettyeruth Davis and Thomisha Rader, two Young Leaders whose work with the Children’s Law Center, the Alliance for Children’s Rights and the Opportunity Youth Collaborative helps young women in the foster system navigate a successful transition to adulthood. Support from the Conrad Hilton Foundation helps makes this work possible.  

Left to Right: Bettyeruth Davis, Youth Advocate, Alliance for Children’s Rights, Taylor Dudley, Children’s Deputy, Office of Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, 1st District, Rebecca Volberg, Disney/ABC Television Group

There was enthusiastic support for  The National Campaign’s work to provide relatable and reliable information and access to contraception as part of its overall goal to ensure that young women—no matter who they are or where they live or the social status—have the power to decide if, when and under what circumstances to gepregnant.

We are grateful to event hosts Bruce Rosenblum, Susanne Daniels, Sibyl Goldman, Gina Girolamo, Samie Falvey, Craig Erwich and Ray Casas for years of leadership and support. Feeling inspired? Here are eight ideas for what you can do right now to help young women succeed. 

Guests learned about the National Campaign’s mission and celebrated 20 years of progress at the Television Academy’s Saban Media Center

Authored by: Marisa Nightingale

As The National Campaign’s Senior Media Advisor, Marisa Nightingale leads key partnerships with entertainment media executives to help harness the power of popular media to reduce teen and unplanned pregnancy. She and her colleagues provide expertise, information, and hands-on help to media decision-makers whose content is most popular with teens, young adults, and their parents.

Marisa joined the Campaign in 1996, shortly after its founding, and is the architect of its nationally-recognized Entertainment Media program. She served as the program’s Senior Director for 12 years and continues to advise on strategy and cultivate message integration partnerships with outlets including NBC, FOX, ABC, The CW, Hulu, Marie Claire, Family Circle, Essence, Latina and more, with a special emphasis on reaching Latino audiences. Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaigns developed under her direction have won multiple awards and garnered millions of dollars in free placements. She played a leadership role in the conception, development and launch of "Thanks, Birth Control," a social media effort that engages individuals and organizations in a positive public conversation about all that birth control makes possible.

Prior to joining The National Campaign, Marisa was the Communications Director at Share Our Strength (SOS), a leading national voice in the fight against hunger. At SOS, she worked with journalists, chefs, corporate partners, and community organizations to address the causes and consequences of hunger and poverty. Marisa is a guest lecturer at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business and is a seasoned speaker on the role of media in preventing teen and unplanned pregnancy and promoting social change. She has served as a Campaign spokesperson on The Today Show, The View, The Ricki Lake Show, NPR, USA Today, The Washington Post, and elsewhere. Marisa graduated with honors from Yale University and lives in Washington, DC with her husband, two children and a lively mutt.

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