Monday, January 27, 2014

The King Legacy

When I think of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., so many incredible lines and phrases run through my mind:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is:  what are you doing for others?”

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

On January 20, the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy was honored to accept the Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award from the City of Spartanburg. The award is given each year to a business or organization that has “proven they are committed to recognizing diversity as an asset in their organization, the improvement of the overall human condition, and the community building efforts that Dr. King so admirably fought to make a reality. “

Being placed in the same category – on any level – with Dr. King seems incomprehensible to me. I have seen first-hand over the past five years, though, how much the SC Campaign seeks to meet the unique needs of everyone we serve. Regardless of age, race, socio-economic status, educational achievement, family make-up, gender, the SC Campaign customizes approaches to make sure we are providing the absolute best to everyone because we believe that everyone is worthy of our absolute best.

Even more than that, though, our work reminds me of a less-known quote from Dr. King:

“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

I believe this is a great description of the work we should all be doing – we should constantly ask the hard questions, never be satisfied with “good enough,” and never allow ourselves to think we know it all and have all the answers.  As the life of Dr. King has shown us, progress comes with hard work, and answers only come when we let ourselves struggle with the questions. I’m grateful for the example he set and blessed to work for an organization that seeks to put his ideals into practice.

To read more about the 27th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Celebration in Spartanburg, click here.

by Dana Becker, Spartanburg Community Mobilization Coordinator, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Back in Session

The second year of the 120th Legislative Session began last Tuesday, January 14th. Each Session is two years and runs from the second Tuesday in January until the first Thursday in June. More than 1,200 bills were introduced during the first year of the Legislative Session (2013) and more will be introduced in 2014. Last Thursday, many of the Legislative Champions for the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy joined our board and staff for a press conference to present the latest teen birth data. The legislators that attended our press conference at the SC Statehouse were: Senator Katrina Shealy, Rep. James Smith, Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, Rep. Jenny Horne, Senator Brad Hutto, Senator Joel Lourie, Rep. Harold Mitchell, Rep. Bakari Sellers, Rep. Joe Jefferson and Rep. Robert Brown.

During the first week of the Session, House and Senate subcommittees began meeting. Governor Nikki Haley unveiled her Executive Budget and will be delivering her State of the State address at 7 PM on Wednesday, January 22. Below are several highlights from her $6.6 Billion Executive Budget proposal:
  • $97 million for children in poverty to provide a quality education for those living in our poorest communities. 
  • $29.5 million reading coach program that offers funding for a reading coach in every public elementary school in South Carolina. 
  • $1 million for firefighting equipment for the Forestry Department; Firefighters also received a 2% pay increase under the proposed budget
  • $29.3 million to improving bandwidth to school facilities, bolstering wireless connectivity within school walls, and launching or enhancing the push to ensure that every student has a computer or tablet. 
  • $21 million to public charter schools
  • $30 million in non-recurring one time funds for the Local Government Fund
  • $21.5 million to Department of Health and Human Services for Medicaid (The Governor mentions also wanting some consolidation of health agencies and to streamline Medicaid funding)
  • 9.6% increase in recurring General Fund support for the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) 
  • 10% General Fund increase for the Attorney General’s Office including $370,000 to hire five additional prosecutors. 
  • $150,000 for the Department of Corrections’ information security needs, along with more than $1 million to staff the new perimeter towers at Lee Correctional Institution and to enhance perimeter security for the Broad River complex. 
A proposed $1.35 Billion additional road funding over the next 10 years – $106.9 million of additional General Funds likely to materialize in FY 2014-15 could be used to generate nearly $737 million for major construction projects (through a combination of “pay-as-you-go” and bonding) in addition to almost $614 million more for maintenance and repair over the course of the next decade. The Governor also clearly stated she would be opposed to a gas tax to fund road improvements. She cited the $1 billion for roads that the state spent last year without raising taxes. 

The recently adopted Omnibus Appropriations Bill includes a $30 million increase in funds for the Title V Funding for Maternal and Child Health Services. This increase restores about 87% of the funding received prior to sequester cuts in 2013. You can read more about teen pregnancy prevention funding on the federal level here

by Ashley Hunter, Legislative Consultant, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Note of Thanks

If I had told you 20 years ago that we were going to reduce the teen birth rate in South Carolina by 50% over the next two decades, I probably would have been laughed at, but that is, in fact, exactly what has happened. From 1992-2012, the teen birth rate (for 15-19 year olds) has declined by 47%! This is a remarkable accomplishment and one that would not have been possible without each and every one of you. So, I would like to pause and say THANK YOU!

THANK YOU to the young people who are making more responsible decisions. At the end of the day, this really is your victory.

THANK YOU to the parents who are starting conversations at home with their children about love, sex, and relationships. As a parent myself, I know this subject matter isn't easy, but we play such a critical role in our children’s decision making. Keep up the good work!

THANK YOU to faith leaders who are willing to tackle this subject matter within your congregations.You are giving young people a safe place to talk about issues they are facing.

THANK YOU to after-school program leaders and youth serving professionals who have made it your mission to make a difference in the lives of young people.

THANK YOU to clinicians who have worked tirelessly to ensure your facilities are teen friendly and that sexually active young people are leaving your clinic with the most effective forms of birth control.

THANK YOU to sex education teachers who know the importance of giving information on both abstinence and condoms and contraception in order to give young people the tools they need to stay healthy.

THANK YOU to those who financially support teen pregnancy prevention. Your gifts make it all possible.

And finally, THANK YOU to all of my colleagues at the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. I know we cannot take all of the credit for this substantial decline, but I do know that the work you all are doing on a daily basis is making a huge impact in the state.

So, today we celebrate – but tomorrow let’s get back to work. Time to focus on the future and how we can reduce the teen birth rate by another 50% over the next 20 years!

by Cayci Banks, Director of Communications, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ringing in a New Year at the SC Campaign

January is the time of year when many of us decide to quit a bad habit or adopt a new hobby.  Some of us simply love having any reason to celebrate, while others treat the calendar roll-over just like any another day.

Here at the SC Campaign, after spending a relaxing couple of weeks with friends and family, we’re excited to begin our agency’s 20th anniversary year.  We’re looking back on 20 years of progress and celebrating a 47% decline in our state’s teen birth rate since our inception.  Plus, we’re hosting big party to be held on May 7, 2014 at the Columbia Museum of Art, and everyone’s invited!

Throughout 2014, we will be celebrating in many exciting ways, so stay tuned via our newsletter for updates on how you can join the fun.  We look forward to seeing you in 2014!

How did you ring in the new year?

by Kemi Ogunji, Executive/Development Assistant, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Monday, January 6, 2014

SC Campaign's Year of Successes!

The SC Campaign made some great strides in 2012-2013, click below to view our interactive Annual Report!