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!

IWES Founder Dr. Denese Shervington Returns To Essence Festival 2014

The Essence Festival returns this July with their EMPOWER U workshops series. Our
IWES Founder, Dr. Denese Shervington, also returns as a featured speaker. Check in on the IWES Facebook page or the Essence festival website for updates. 
NEW** Program: Creating A Future Together (CrAFT)


IWES is excited to announce a new partnership with the Packard Foundation that focuses on addressing gaps in sexual and reproductive health in the South. With the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes among communities of color, Creating a Future Together (CrAFT), is a comprehensive, multi-pronged initiative, which will focus on three key areas:

  • Implementing gender transformative comprehensive sexual health education (CSE) in New Orleans middle schools.
  • Facilitating youth sexual and reproductive health advocacy through partnerships with HBCUs.
  • Serving as a conduit for Affordable Care Act (ACA) and health information dissemination through existing IWES partnerships and networks.

Through this initiative, IWES continues to serve the mission of improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes for adolescents and young adults, and increasing access to health information for women and youth of color. For more information on the CrAFT project, please contact Kaitlyn Marchesano, or Melanie Powers 

Take a Breath: Black Feminist Breathing Retreat in July

July 4-6 participate in the Black Feminist Breathing Retreat at the Flowering Lotus Retreat Center founded by visionary Dolores Watson in Magnolia, MS to practice and celebrate the technology of black feminist breathing. The days will include breathing, mantras and poetry rooted in short wise sayings from black feminist teachers and writers as a resource for mindfulness, sustainability and connection to legacy and purpose. This retreat builds on a successful national Black Feminist Breathing Tour throughout schools and community centers around North America. It also builds on 5 years of retreats by Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind in North Carolina and South Carolina. For more information see here
BrassyBrown.com is Seeking Interns


Are you concerned about issues related to women of color or health justice in New Orleans? Would you like to build your leadership skills and get active in your community? Are you an aspiring Filmmaker? Graphic/Web Designer? Writer? Then BrassyBrown.com is the right place for you! 


BrassyBrown.com is a blog dedicated to all things women of color in New Orleans. They are seeking interns who want to create videos, podcasts, and write and assist with social media.


BrassyBrown.com interns will gain invaluable hands-on experience through working, mentoring and networking opportunities.


Interns must:

  • have a passion for New Orleans issues and culture 
  • have a strong command of digital storytelling and implementing social media campaigns across social media sites

  • have a solid interest in using social media for good and empowerment

  • possess excellent verbal and written communication skills through email, phone and online chat

  • be able to take initiative with little supervision

  • possess a strong work ethic and ability to work independently to meet deadlines

  • be reliable

Email resumes to BrassyBrown@gmail.com.  In the subject line type "Applying for Social Media Internship". Please include a brief statement of interest, sample(s) of your work, and the hours you are available.   

 #TBT Video
Did you know that IWES has created over FIFTY short films with a range of topics from HIV prevention to community wellness to being fit? There are PSAs, satires, dramas, documentary pieces, short films, and everything in between! 
To (re)introduce y'all to some of the classics, in March IWES debuted #tbtVideo every Thursday, featuring a new throwback film on the IWES,   
  and MAP
Facebook pages.
 Look out for the archives each week and remember the good old days. Well, some are only a few months back, but that still counts. You never know, you could see someone you haven't seen in a while!
Featured IWES Film 

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter

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. 

PAUSE Moment: Flirting
PAUSE Moment: Flirting
The PAUSE rants are back, this time analyzing the tricky game of...flirting! The PAs examine corny lines, lame excuses,  awkward approaches, and creepy animal noises...yes, animal noises! From the lips of the PAs to your ears, here's the most recent PAUSE Moment: Flirting!
And if you missed the first PAUSE Moment about Twerking, you need to follow this link because it's a must see! Here's a little preview, "Twerking at Popeye's...it looks like you're too happy to get chicken so first of all it looks like ya mama not feeding you..."

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

 View our videos on YouTube   

HERON Conference 2014 
IWES partner, the Health Inequalities Research Network (HERON), is hosting their international conference in London, England, UK next month. The conference is being organized as a part of the ESRC/NIH funded US-UK Comparison of Discrimination & Disparities in Health & Health Service Use Study. Speakers include, the distinguished keynote Dr. David Williams, Professor of African & African-American Studies and of Sociology at Harvard University


IWES staff members will participate as panelists, discussants, volunteers, and session chairs, and will present an audio installation based on IWES' upcoming book, "Crooked Room Stories from New Orleans." The installation is created from recorded testimonials from African American woman of varied age, status, and educational attainment, sharing their personal experiences navigating their own Crooked Rooms.
HERON is an international network founded in 2010. It aims to develop and promote the interaction of health practitioners and researchers with community members and representatives to enable a more collaborative approach to action in research in inequalities in health and health service use at national and community levels. 

IWES is creating a Youth Leadership Council and Wants YOU to Join!


IWES is seeking 10 youth throughout the state of Louisiana aged 18-24 that want to join the movement supporting & promoting comprehensive, evidence-based sexuality education in their communities. The Council is looking for dynamic youth to work closely with the Coordinator to accomplish the following goals:


  1. Raise awareness among youth about the need for STI and pregnancy prevention efforts for themselves and other young people
  2. Advocate for comprehensive sexuality education in Louisiana public schools and other policy priorities, and
  3. Empower other youth to get involved in their communities. 

Council members will receive a monthly stipend, an all-expenses paid trip to Washington DC to meet other youth activists, and comprehensive training from Advocates for Youth! Hurry, apps are due this Friday, May 9th! 


If you, or someone you know, is a great fit for this initiative, please send this application to Kaitlyn Marchesano!


YEP Celebrates its 10th Anniversary



The Youth Empowerment Project's 10th Anniversary Celebration and Fundraiser is happening on Friday, May 16th. Check out their website to see how you can get involved and support their wonderful work! 

Additionally, they are hosting a free BBQ and block party on Saturday, May 17th to celebrate with all of their friends, partners and constituents! So come out and join in!

The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music Presents


Honoring Our Elders: A 5 Part Series




The final installment of the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music's five part series is on May 6th featuring a Tribute to Red Morgan at 6pm. For more information and to learn about the center check out their website here.
Pop in to the Propeller POP Fundraiser!



Check out Propeller's annual fundraising event on May 22nd, previously known as the Propeller Gala, newly christened as the Propeller Pop. The evening will celebrate the graduation of Propeller's third class of Accelerator Fellows, who have applied their genius, passion and creativity to some of New Orleans' biggest challenges
The event will feature food from delicious New Orleans pop up restaurants such as Milkfish, Sarsaparilla, and Sid & Dom's Vegan Delites, drinks, a silent auction, music by DJ Soul Sister and a short video celebrating the Propellor fellows. 

For more information and to buy tickets follow this link.

NEW** Wellness Evaluation Community Action Network (WE-CAN!)

WE-CAN! was 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 across New Orleans. 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. 


By establishing a common baseline for mental and emotional well-being as defined by New Orleans communities and consistently disseminating that information, city government and funders will be able to determine where to focus mental health resources; community groups and organizations will be able to identify effective programming; and communities will have access to information to use for their own community health advocacy efforts. The information gathered during the process of creating the tools, as well as through using the tools in a citywide evaluation, will also illustrate the contextual and macro-level forces which impact individual and community resiliency.  


For more information on WE-CAN contact Della Wright or Callie Kaplan
Media Advocates for Prevention

MAP is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded program adapted from the evidence-based Community PROMISE model. MAP works with a group of Peer Advocates (PAs) ages 15-18 to develop HIV prevention messages for youth in New Orleans.    


The PAs have been very active this quarter! Over Mardi Gras they participated in the filming of the newest Role Model Story, a music video for the song "Status," written and performed by Wavy Wave (MAP Alum, Briell Spruille). Look out for the video to premiere this summer! 

On Valentine's Day, PAs participated in the One Billion Rising event to end violence against women and girls at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center

In February, AmeriCorps Member Helene Kirschke-Schwartz conducted HIV testing at a MAP meeting with 9 PAs, helping to normalize testing and better prepare them to conduct outreach. On March 10 for National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day PAs participated in the national campaign, then on March 15 they tabled at the Global Youth Festival alongside youth from IWES' Teen Outreach Program. 

Later in March PAs participated in an advocacy campaign surrounding Hobby Lobby's objection to offering health insurance that covers some birth control. PAs photographed and disseminated via social media their messages addressing the issue. Lastly, on April 10 PAs recognized National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day through photography again to promote testing, demonstrate proper condom use, and dispel sexual health myths common amongst youth in New Orleans. 

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If you or someone you know is a youth aged 12-18, e-mail MAP to receive a FREE MAP kit, or ask a PA!

Focus on Youth with Informed Parents and Children Together

FOY + ImPACT is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded 8-session evidence-based small group education program that works with youth aged 12-15 to help them develop the skills and knowledge needed to protect themselves from HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). 


The most recent implementation took place this February-April with a group of seven young women at the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP). FOY staff worked with both Karah Adams and Sonya Brown to recruit program participants and coordinate parent sessions. Though Mardi Gras break and iLEAP testing took place during this cohort, this FOY group was wonderful! The participants were eager and engaged and learned a lot of new HIV and pregnancy prevention information. In fact, each of the seven graduates demonstrated an increase in HIV prevention knowledge! The last session and graduation ceremony was held on April 8 at YEP with family members, staff and YEP youth. 

In keeping with nationally established community high-impact prevention strategies, FOY staff will transition from conducting small group education interventions to offering youth-centered HIV testing, counseling and linkage to medical and support services. YEP has been a steadfast partner and although FOY staff will no longer implement the program, they are committed to continuing and exploring new direction for what has been a lovely partnership. 

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 550 youth at ten schools including: Schaumburg Elementary School, Sci Tech Academy, William J. Fischer Accelerated Academy, Dwight D. Eisenhower Academy of Global Studies, and the International School of Louisiana-Camp Street Campus.

BY!-NOLA! is excited about graduating its largest class in the program's four-year history. On April 4, 180 youth from Alice M. Harte Charter School completed the program. In addition to being the largest graduating class, Harte participants also had one of the highest completion rates in the history of the program with 97% of youth completing 80% of the curriculum.

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, First Line Schools and the International School of Louisiana.

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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.


It has
 been an amazing journey for the 2013-2014 TOP� participants and staff as they
 near completion of weekly meetings and prepare for community service learning activities.  

In February Dryades YMCA, Harmony Oaks and New Orleans Middle School TOP� participants collaboratively volunteered to plant and label trees with City Park's Volunteer Division. They learned the process for planting trees and important environmental facts, such as the role trees play in muffling city noise and providing clean oxygen.


Later in the month, VIET, New Orleans Middle School and Dryades YMCA TOP� members p
articipated in a 2-hour learning tour at Grow Dat Youth Farm. They learned about the irrigation system and the importance of utilizing natural resources to grow and maintain crops, and they participated in exercises that increased their knowledge of eating healthy and preparing healthy meals. 


In the upcoming 2014-2015 school year, IWES will implement TOP� in local schools per an agreement with school system officials, benefitting more youth in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. Furthermore, the program will have more parental and teacher support which will allow for better outcomes for the youth being served. 


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

Peer Advocates Undoing Stigma through Education (PAUSE) 

  PAUSE is a social marketing campaign that grew out of Media Advocates for Prevention (MAP). Formative research conducted with over 175 African American youth in the Greater New Orleans area collected baseline sexual health data, HIV risk practices and beliefs, and ideas for effective campaign strategies. The goal of PAUSE is to increase the utilization of HIV testing services and condoms among bisexually-behaving Black youth ages 11-19 to prevent the transmission of HIV and unwanted pregnancy.


PAUSE is getting ready for IWES' new HIV testing initiative by creating new films, resources, and swag! For the first time in IWES' 21 years, IWES will conduct rapid HIV counseling and testing at the IWES office and in partnership with other community programs/events. Look out for new promotional materials and resources for youth-accessible, community-focused services and share it with your circles to help spread the word, not the disease. This summer PAUSE for your HEALTH and stay up-to-date with your status in a friendly, confidential environment. Look for an official launch on National HIV/AIDS Testing Day (June 27) and smaller announcements on IWES social media leading up to the event.


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

April 10 was National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Remember, HIV testing is either anonymous (no name, you get assigned a number) or confidential (give contact info). Either way, it's kept secret!


March 8 was International Women's Day with the theme Inspiring Change. Followers tagged women that inspire change & told us why!

 It's amazing how passionate Carli is about many social justice issues. Meet another wonderful MAP PA! 


Contact Iman Shervington to get involved in the campaign.

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  Follow us on Twitter   

AIDS United Southern REACH Initiative

 IWES received a one year grant from AIDS United Southern REACH to enhance and expand work related to comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), gender-based and sexual violence awareness, and advocacy. The goals of the project are to: increase and diversify support and advocacy for CSE within and outside of school systems by focusing on the role of CSE as a part of overall health education; increase advocacy efforts for policies addressing sexual and gender-based violence; and advocate for CSE mandates for public school systems in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.   


IWES staff meets weekly with a group of youth advocates from Dillard University, Delgado Community College, Eleanor McMain Secondary School, and International High School to complete a CSE toolkit. In addition, advocates have written and practiced personal testimonies to present during this legislative session to the LA House Education Committee. Upon scheduling of the committee vote on HB369 to mandate sex education in schools, advocates will travel to Baton Rouge to voice their thoughts. The youth advocacy group also partnered with a local radio station program, the Listening Post, and were interviewed for a piece regarding sexual health education in public schools. The segment aired on April 8 and can be accessed via this link.

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 has partnered with 6 schools throughout the city with the goal of creating 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 once a month to provide input on the program and review ways to make the program's efforts more sustainable and effective.

In addition to biweekly updates for school staff and coalition members, HBD is also finalizing a resource guide for schools with information on school gardens, nutrition, physical activity, and wellness leadership.

Program staff recently attended a Shared Learning Experience at UCLA with other grant recipients. Discussions at the conference centered on successes and challenges of the program thus far, as well as ideas to further the work and promote sustainability.


Recently, HBD helped to provide resources and assistance planning health events for the International School of Louisiana's Fabulous Fortnight, including procuring vegetable plant starts for the newly rejuvenated school garden. HBD staff also participated at partner schools during Health Week at both Alice M. Harte Charter School and St. Paul's Lutheran. These Health Weeks provided nutrition education and physical activity opportunities for students, and fomented lasting partnerships with community 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). 


IWES partnered with Lawrence D. Crocker College Prep and Young Audiences to implement a program entitled Art Voice with fourth grade-female students at Crocker. 
Art Voice is an IWES initiative that explores issues that impact the emotional well-being of New Orleans youth through bi-weekly sessions that infuse art work into the exploration of youth identified issues. Utilizing the visual arts, the 15 young women explored the impact of bullying on their lives.


A culminating
art exhibit was held on March 21 in Crocker's cafeteria in which the young women acted as curators and presented their work to classmates, teachers, friends, and family members. 


In April CHC held a sustainability retreat in Poplarville, MS to explore the (8) factors of sustainability and develop an internal action plan to operationalize those factors. The information gathered from the retreat was shared with CHC Steering Committee members at the April committee meeting. Members provided feedback and guidance which was then incorporated into the action plan. An external sustainability leadership team was cultivated from steering committee members whom expressed interest in serving on a sustainability sub-committee on a monthly basis.  


To get in touch with CHC, please contact Danielle Wright.

NIRH Urban Initiatives Project

IWES received funding from the National Institute for Reproductive Health's Southern REACH Initiative to develop and work with a youth and multi-sectoral coalition to promote comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) among community stakeholders. The goal of the coalition is to create a positive shift in attitudes regarding CSE and to build the capacity of the New Orleans City council and New Orleans school boards to develop and implement policies and resolutions in New Orleans by the end of May 2014. 


IWES staff has continued working with youth advocates on a CSE advocacy toolkit. As a part of the toolkit, advocates disseminated an online survey which was used to gather information about New Orleans youths' experiences receiving CSE, what topics were covered, and if they believe CSE should be offered in schools. Additionally, youth have collected video testimony from community members in various sectors regarding their support for CSE in schools and are creating a presentation for the New Orleans City Council.  


If you would like more information or are interested in participating in the  project, please contact Melanie Powers mpowers@iwesnola.org.  

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.