The Center for Disease Control has identified teen pregnancy prevention as a Winnable Battle. With additional effort and support for evidence-based, cost-effective strategies that we can implement now, we will have a significant impact on our nation’s health.” (Source:

In 2016, the City of Rochester had a teen birth rate of 31 births per 1,000 women ages 15-19.  This compares to rates of 16 in New York State and 24 nationwide. While these numbers have steadily declined over the past two decades, they are still much higher than in other developed countries (e.g. Canada=11 and the Netherlands=4). However, research shows that in Rochester, it's not just teens. In fact, the highest rate of unintended pregnancies of young women are between the ages of 20-24, followed by 25-29 year olds, then 15-19 year olds. 

Over the past year, Causewave helped to convene a powerhouse of local experts to create a community-wide initiative. The catalyst for taking on this issue was twofold:

  1. Evidence shows that by improving access to more effective contraception like long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC), unintended pregnancies will drop; and 
  2. There was a mix of passionate individuals and organizations ready to take on this challenge in our community. 

The initiative is focused on reducing the number of unintended pregnancies in young women from teens up to 29 year olds by improving access to and awareness of all available contraception methods. The Steering Committee determined that the key message should aim at educating young women so that they can make informed reproductive choices without judgment.

Stay True to You echoes a great deal of what young women are hearing from mentors and other women they respect. It’s a great platform for those mentors and healthcare professionals to engage and inform young women even more about the true facts they likely don’t know about their birth control options, to make the discussion more publicly and culturally acceptable, and ultimately help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in young women in the Rochester area.
— Matt Smythe, Creative Director at

JAY, a local advertising and marketing agency,  has created an eye-catching messaging with media to intrigue young women to learn more about their birth control options. With help from Nan Burgess-Whitman, a volunteer market researcher, we were able to test two possible campaign messages and the corresponding creative. Nan, who has years of experience in the market research field suggested Causewave use both online and in person focus groups to test these concepts. This was decided partly on the age demographic we were trying to target and partly on the numerous benefits of using online focus groups, which includes reduced cost, more data and quicker results. Causewave had never used online focus groups prior but found them to be easy, fun and the results were really surprising!

Thanks to JAY, who is donating all of the creative development and media planning, Causewave and its many partners are now in the final stages before officially launching the campaign.

Keep an eye out for the public launch of the campaign this summer! If you'd like to learn more or get involved, please contact Stacey Saracene, Senior Program Manager, at

Huge thanks to all devoted steering committee members, including: Rachael Phelps, Katherine Greenberg, MD, Andy Aligne, MD, Sherita D. Bullock, Jess Coleman, Sandy Coleman, Sheila Driscoll, Marielena Vélez de Brown, MD, Tori Toliver-Powers, Audrey Korokeyi, Mary Terziani, Krysta Baccari, Jessica Cranch and Gladys Pedraza-Burgos. Special thanks to Jay Advertising and Nan Burgess-Whitman for all the hard work and dedication they’ve put into the messaging strategy for this initiative.

Picture Source: The Sunday News