Welcome to the Institute Of Women And Ethnic Studies' Quarterly E-Blast. Every November, February, May, and August, look out for this E-Blast to update you on our programs and events.   


Thanks for continuing to be a part of the IWES family!

Meet the Newest IWES Staff Members!

Brittney Thomas, CHC Intern

Brittney joined the IWES staff in January 2014 as a social work intern from Tulane University. She received a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Science from Howard University in 2010. Upon graduation from college, Brittney spent two years working as a mental health case manager in Washington, DC. During this time, she decided to advance her education and combine her passion for nutrition and mental health and wellness on the community level. In the fall of 2013, Brittney enrolled as a graduate student at Tulane University where she is pursuing a dual degree in social work and public health. Her interests include nutritional wellness, fighting childhood obesity, and adolescent mental health. Brittney is excited to be a part of the IWES staff and is thoroughly enjoying her time in the beautiful city of New Orleans.  


Kaitlyn Marchesano, MPH  

CrAFT Program Coordinator
Kaitlyn joined IWES in the spring of 2014. After receiving her BA in International Health and Development from George Washington University, Kaitlyn moved to New Orleans in 2009 to pursue her MPH at Tulane University, where she had the opportunity to work on many sexual and reproductive health projects combining her interests in research, policy, and service delivery. After receiving her MPH in 2011, she worked with the Louisiana Office of Public Health STD HIV Program as the adolescent health coordinator, where she managed a statewide teen pregnancy prevention program and worked on sexual health policy issues, including expanding access to comprehensive sexual health education in schools. As the CrAFT Program Coordinator, Kaitlyn strives to work collaboratively to ensure that all people have the information and resources to make healthy decisions about their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction for themselves, their families, and their communities.


Anneke Dunbar-Gronke

UCLA Healthy by Default REACH Program Coordinator

Anneke joined IWES in February 2014. She received her Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Columbia University in 2012. While in school, she worked with fellow students and residents of the Grant Houses Housing Project to repurpose nearby, unused housing authority land for a community garden. After graduation, she worked as a junior investigator for the Bronx Defenders in New York City before moving to New Orleans to work for Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) as a Project Coordinator. Her interests include demography, rehabilitative justice, housing rights and reproductive justice. 


Rachel Van Parys, MPH 

UCLA Healthy By Default REACH Program Coordinator

Rachel joined IWES in January 2014. She received her Master of Public Health in Health Education and Communication from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and her BA in Sociology and African Diaspora Studies from St. Mary's College of Maryland. Prior to joining IWES, Rachel worked as a Research Assistant for Tulane's Prevention Research Center, and as the Wellness Coordinator for Grow Dat Youth Farm. She volunteers with Cooking Matters as a Nutrition Instructor, and is passionate about cooking, gardening, and changing the built environment to make healthier choices more accessible.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation Features IWES' Artvoice program on their website! 


IWES would like to send a very special thank you to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for recognizing one of IWES' newest programs, Artvoice, and the work done here at the Institute to support the health and well-being of New Orleans youth. 
Artvoice was created as a way to further engage school partners who were interested in creating increased wellness for their student communities. It was implemented this Spring at Crocker Elementary School with a cohort of 4th grade girls. It was comprised of 12 twice-weekly 90-minute workshops with an exhibition and feedback group at the end. During the group sessions youth shared and discussed art work from the previous week, created by participants during their free time with art materials. Each week's specific theme was explored in detail, using art projects as a springboard for deeper conversation. At each workshop, there was a social worker present with experience in leading group conversation, an art teacher (in partnership with a local community-based organization, Young Audiences), and a member of the IWES evaluation team to document the discussions and group progression. At the end of the project, the students chose their favorite three art projects as part of a student-curated art exhibition at their school.


To read the article on the Kellogg website, click here.  
Featured IWES Film 
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Follow the links above to like IWES on Facebook and follow IWES on Twitter for interesting articles, events, and opportunities that relate to the health and well-being of women of color and their families. 

Music Video Premiere: "Status" 
Status by Wavy Wave
Check out the premiere of the very first IWES music video "Status!" Featuring the very talented, MAP alum Briell "Wavy Wave" Spruille and several other MAP PAs! Listen and then get up to date on your status! 

Follow the link below to the IWES YouTube channel for more IWES films.

 View our videos on YouTube   

Call for Proposals!

The Open Meadows Foundation is a grant-making organization seeking projects that promote gender/racial/economic justice. The projects must be led by and benefit women and girls, particularly those from vulnerable communities, and awards

grants up to $2000 to projects that:

* Are designed and implemented by women and girls;
* Reflect the diversity of the community served by the project in both its leadership and organization;
* Promote building community power;
* Have limited financial access or have encountered obstacles in their search for funding

Deadline for submission is on August 15th, 2014 at midnight. For more information see their website here

Scholarship Opportunity!
 Scholarships are the primary means by which the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority's Educational Achievement Foundation carries out its mission. The Foundation awards Merit and Financial Need graduate scholarships. Requirements for eligibility are:
  • Be a full time, sophmore or beyond
  • Be enrolled in an accredited degree granting institution
  • Have a minimum GPA of 3.0 (B average)
  • Demonstrate community service and involvement
Follow the link for more details 
Urban Bush Women Summer Leadership Institute presents Soul Deep! 
The Urban Bush Women have come back to New Orleans for another Summer Leadership Institute! This year they are focusing on the Free Southern Theater Model to address inequality by "claiming our places, our legacy, and our stories." Throughout this 10-day intensive experience dancers, artists, and activists alike come together and create a unique expression through movement of what they have learned through exploration and community building, which is presented free to the public during their culminating performance. This year there will be TWO culminating performances, so please see below for the specifics. 
Saturday, August 2nd 
3pm and 5pm
Tulane University 
Eleanor McWilliams Hall

For more information on the summer leadership institute follow this link.
Introducing the Healthy By Default Complete Resource Guide! 

Now live on the IWES website, the Healthy By Default complete resource guide includes information on programs, grants and resources that promote access to healthy eating and physical activity opportunities. 

To check it out see resources tab on the website

Wellness Evaluation Community Action Network (WE-CAN!)

Founded in September 2013 as the research and evaluation arm of the Collective for Healthy Communities, WE-CAN! is rooted in participatory action research (PAR) theory and collaborations with various groups and organizations. It is designed to provide space for community conversations to catalyze individual, community and/or systems level change, while shaping the tools to measure that change. The tools created will be used to better understand well-being and community-defined resiliency in New Orleans, and the information gathering and sharing processes utilized by WE-CAN! will be shared as a model for true community partnership in equity and justice-driven research. 


Throughout the spring, IWES met with community partners, including VAYLA, Kids Rethink, and the Youth Empowerment Project, to create a youth participatory action research (YPAR) collaborative. During the 2014-'15 school year, 12-15 youth (aged 13-19) affiliated with the collaborative organizations will work together to gain critical skills in information-gathering, data analysis and information dissemination. If you or someone you know is a young person interested in participating in the YPAR project, please contact Della Wright (504-599-7712) for an application. If you would like to participate in a focus group/interview to share your thoughts, experiences or feelings on your community, contact Lisa Richardson, (504-599-7712).





This July, WE-CAN and CHC staff collaborated with the Kids Rethink summer camp to hold a Photovoice group with ten young people focused on the camp themes; freedom and oppression. Participants chose several sub-themes to explore through photography, including art, food access, music, urban destruction, freedom, and "the spot". Each group member took photos representing those themes, which served as a springboard for group discussion on how those concepts related to freedom and oppression in their own lived experiences. The Rethinkers' critical thinking skills and affinity for photography made the project a success! Their photographs were exhibited as part of the camp's culminating Day of Action on July 24th. 


Lastly, the WE-CAN team has also been programming the IWES internal data management system, Efforts to Outcomes (ETO) and have participated in trainings and local meetings on ETO implementation and data sharing.


For more information on WE-CAN contact Della Wright.

Believe in Youth! - NOLA!

 IWES was one of six entities in Louisiana funded to provide teen pregnancy prevention programs through the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Adolescent Health's Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative. Through this initiative, IWES has created BY!-NOLA!, which serves youth aged 11-13 through the utilization of the 8-module evidence-based Making Proud Choices curriculum along with two additional modules developed by Dr. Denese Shervington which focus on emotional health and resiliency.  


Since September 2013, BY!-NOLA! has served over 750 youth at twelve schools and three NORDC sites including: the NORDC summer camp at Pleasant Zion Church, Excite All Stars Summer Camp and the Southern University at New Orleans Healthy Minds Healthy Bodies Institute.

BY!-NOLA! is continuing its outreach efforts to parents. So far, youth participants have completed 119 parent interviews, which are tools youth use to begin conversations with caring adults about sexual health and responsibility. Additionally, BY!-NOLA! staff have completed over 180 parent surveys that provide IWES with information on parent perspectives on the importance of sex education and on their level of comfort in speaking with their children about sexual health and responsibility. These surveys are complemented by the BY!-NOLA! parent newsletter that provides parents with strategies to engage their children in dialogues about sex. So far, over 375 BY!-NOLA! parents have received this newsletter. As BY!-NOLA! enters its fifth programming year, plans to deepen parent engagement for the program are underway.

BY!-NOLA continues to provide comprehensive teen pregnancy prevention programming to youth throughout the city with the help of partners such
as New Beginnings Schools Foundation, Inspire NOLA Charter Schools, ReNEW Schools, FirstLine Schools, the International School of Louisiana and NORDC.


For more information on BY-NOLA! contact Rashida Govan.  

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Teen Outreach Program (TOP�) 
Through the Department of Health & Human Services' Office of Adolescent Health's Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Office of Public Health Family Planning Program was awarded a grant to implement the evidence-based Teen Outreach Program (TOP�). IWES was selected to implement TOP�, which serves youth aged 12-18 through a 9-month program that focuses on teen pregnancy prevention and academic outcomes, including drop-out and course failure rates. TOP� also includes a community service-learning component in which participants plan their own service projects, carry them out, and strategize sustainability.


TOP� successfully completed its 3rd cohort at Dryades YMCA, the Main Library, Norman Mayer (Gentilly) Library, NFL/YET Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Louisiana, Urban Strategies Harmony Oaks Community Center and Vietnamese Initiatives in Economic Training (VIET). All clubs completed 25 weeks of educational peer group meetings and over 20 hours of community service learning (CSL) projects. TOP� staff recently supported VIET in their Beautification Day event by volunteering as 'Team Leaders' and leading over 60 teens in building benches, tying tree branches and labeling them with VIET's youth participants' names.


TOP� staff received certification in Wyman's TOP Trainer of Facilitators, which allows them to train others as facilitators. In preparation for the upcoming 2014-'15 implementation year, TOP� staff conducted their first training for IWES staff members in June.


TOP� enjoys helping teens increase their knowledge, skills and abilities; supporting teens in their CSL projects; and providing an emotional and physical safe haven for teens to develop positive relationships with their facilitator(s) and club members. 


If you have any questions about TOP�, contact Ragan Collins

Peer Advocates Undoing Stigma through Education (PAUSE) 

PAUSE is a targeted, multi-pronged social marketing campaign and HIV Counseling, Testing, and Referral (CTR) program funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reduce HIV stigma and encourage African American youth in New Orleans to access HIV testing services. Between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015 PAUSE will provide HIV CTR to a minimum of 450 African American youth ages 13-24 in the greater New Orleans area.  



During National HIV Testing Day, recognized June 26-28, 2014, PAUSE launched its HIV Counseling, Testing, and Referral services and tested 43 people! Although the campaign focuses on African American youth, PAUSE testing services are open to everyone, and Spanish speaking counselors are available upon request. Regular testing began on July 7th and staff currently conduct testing every Monday from 3-7pm at Walgreens (145 Elk Place) and looks forward to expanding the testing program across the city.

Besides CTR services, the other branch of the PAUSE campaign is its social media presence. This month, PAUSE launched the Status music video for a song created by former Peer Advocate, Briell "Wavy Wave" Spruille, incorporating real youths' stories. Following the video premiere, PAUSE also launched a web series, risk, that is being released in 5 webisodes and contains innovative interactive features at the end of each episode. Watch it. Click it. Join the movement! Check out the first episode here and stay tuned on PAUSE social media for the release of each Chapter every Wednesday!  


Check out PAUSE's favorite Instagram photos for this quarter!





Contact Iman Shervington to get involved in the campaign.

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Creating A Future Together (CrAFT)

Creating a Future Together (CrAFT) is a comprehensive, multi-pronged initiative that focuses on addressing gaps in sexual and reproductive health, with the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes among communities of color in the South. The program is supported by the Packard Foundation, and Advocates for Youth. CrAFT focuses on four areas: gender transformative comprehensive 

youth sexual health education (CSE); sexual and reproductive health advocacy with HBCUs; Affordable Care Act (ACA) information dissemination; and,  advocacy around CSE in New Orleans schools.

Nine youth advocates have been selected to participate in the Louisiana Youth Council, a partnership between IWES and Advocates for Youth, through the Cultural Advocacy Mobilization Initiative (CAMI). Throughout the year, the council will receive training in policy development, advocacy, and community organizing. They will put this training in action through advocacy efforts around comprehensive sexual health education policy. To kick off their year, the advocates will attend a four-day, intensive training hosted by Advocates for Youth, wherein youth activists from across the world come together to learn from sexual and reproductive health experts, as well as each other. Stay tuned to learn more about these amazing youth activists, and the work they will do with CAMI and the LYC this year!


  If you have any questions about CrAFT please contact Kaitlyn Marchesano.

Healthy By Default (HBD)

Through UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health, IWES is funded to implement the Healthy By Default REACH Project to disseminate strategies to improve physical activity levels and healthy eating behaviors among vulnerable populations. In collaboration with the City of New Orleans Health Department's FitNOLA, IWES partnered with 6 schools throughout the city to create policy, systems, and environmental change in the areas of physical activity and nutrition. HBD has formed a multi-sectorial coalition of 20 community partners and organizations that meets monthly to provide input on the program and review ways to make the its efforts more sustainable and effective.

Since April, IWES staff members have solidified partnerships with six local schools to support healthy eating initiatives, physical activity break trainings for teachers, the implementation of new wellness policies and student engagement for meaningful school change. Since January, four schools have acquired new gardens, two schools have coordinated week-long health celebrations and five schools have committed to adopting new health policies. The HBD aim is to ensure that each school connects with a new healthy eating or exercise program and has printed materials with new health policies available to all students, teachers, parents and administrators by August 31st. 


Additionally, HBD is partnering with Fit NOLA to facilitate healthier lifestyles for young people across the city. The City of New Orleans' Health Department initiative to become a top ten fittest city in the United States by 2018 has gathered 300+ organizations across multiple sectors to imagine a fit city for everyone. To support this major, city-wide effort, HBD has worked with the school sector to foster collaborations between multiple organizations that work in school health. HBD staff continue to volunteer as co-chairs of the Fit NOLA school sector committee through the end of the grant period to support the great work of the member organizations!


For more information about Healthy By Default contact Rachel Van Parys or Anneke Dunbar-Gronke.  

Collective for Healthy Community
CHC, a W.K. Kellogg Foundation funded program, was created in response to the disproportionate negative mental health impact on poor people and people of color in the aftermath of Katrina. IWES developed a division of post-disaster mental health recovery and emotional resiliency to respond to the needs of the community. The cultivation of this division has required a concerted effort among professionals from multiple backgrounds (psychiatry, social work, public health, anthropology, and political science). 


The recovery process for New Orleans East has been slow and inequitable. In the wake of this lack of prioritization around rebuilding in 'The East', there has been little acknowledgement of the need for reconciliation and repair. In an attempt to better understand the specific concerns of New Orleans East community members, through CHC's New Orleans East Solutions in Synergy (NOESIS) program, IWES is conducting a series of repair and resiliency-building circles. The R&R series creates spaces to engage the New Orleans East community in dialogue, wherein residents can come together to share:

  • their Katrina experience;
  • how they have experienced the recovery efforts at the individual, familial, community and societal levels;
  • what supports are needed for reconciliation and repair, and;
  • community-driven solutions for change.

On July 1, 2014, the NOESIS team hosted the first R&R circle with 24 diverse participants. The circles serve as safe spaces in which New Orleans East residents come together to share the lingering impact of their Katrina experience, so as to support each other and problem solve; and, if possible, heal some of the wounds and even find the courage to act upon their inner voice. 


 Health professionals attended the R&R to gather information on how to better serve their constituents in that geographic area, such as the Executive Director of Metropolitan Human Service District, which houses a mental health clinic in New Orleans East. Excelth's New Orleans East Clinic Manager also attended.


Some of the common themes that came out of the R&R conversations were:  

  • New Orleans East has been forgotten about in the recovery process
  • the feeling of being a stranger in one's own neighborhood and being forced to adjust to a new normal
  • family being an asset and motivation to come back from the negative experiences brought on by Katrina
  • remaining deeply saddened by the occurrence of loss during Katrina
  • feeling failed by city/state government in the lack of planning and lack of providing resources to mitigate the effects of disaster

The second R&R series will be held on August 26, 2014. For more information about the R&R series or CHC in general, please contact Danielle Wright

The Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies (IWES) is a national non-profit organization founded in 1993 in response to the overwhelming health disparities among women of color.
IWES is dedicated to improving the physical, mental and spiritual health and quality of life of women of color and their families, especially those who are socio-economically disadvantaged.

Thanks for taking a moment to read our Quarterly E-Blast. If you ever have any questions, comments, or feedback, please feel free to email us.