September 13, 2023
The Innovation Award is near and dear to our hearts because innovation helps us create solutions to meet the ever-changing lives of young people. There are so many kinds of innovative solutions—from helping young people get the answers they need, to finding the right care, to feeling good about their sexuality, and so much more.
The Innovation Award recognizes innovation and achievements in adolescent sexual and reproductive health, honoring individuals or organizations committed to holistic and innovative approaches to promote equity, reduce health disparities, and be inclusive and affirming of the needs of all young people. We are pleased to announce that the Confidential Advocacy Services in Schools Program from the Raphael House of Portland as the 2023 Innovation awardee.
Since 2006, Raphael House’s Prevention Program has provided free, comprehensive classroom education for teens across the Portland metro area. As leaders in this work, Raphael House helps schools shift to a culture of consent and safety, working with students, teachers, administrators, and parents. Each year, Education Specialists with the Prevention Program teach over 2,500 students to use practical tools for building equitable relationships, setting boundaries, and responding to abuse.
One-third of teens experience relationship abuse, but most never report it or get the help they deserve. Confidential advocates fill this gap, providing a safe adult to listen and share resources, so students can seek support and be part of ending the cycle of violence early.
In 2018, Raphael House expanded these services even further, to begin also offering on-site confidential advocacy for high school students—a first of its kind partnership with the Portland Public School district. One-third of teens experience relationship abuse, but most never report it or get the help they deserve. Confidential advocates fill this gap, providing a safe adult to listen and share resources, so students can seek support and be part of ending the cycle of violence early.
In 2022, Raphael House achieved another exciting milestone—bringing Confidential Advocacy services into all nine Portland Public High Schools in partnership with Volunteers of America Oregon Home Free. This expansion means even more teens across Portland’s community have the support they deserve in the face of dating and sexual violence.
Photo Description: Group photo of the Raphael House Prevention Program Team Members
Now in 2023, the four Education Specialists doing this critical, frontline work in schools are Raphael House Prevention Program team members Julia Kohn-Brown, Myles Worthy, and Katie Mahaffie, along with Marissa Hosler, Sex Trafficking Education Specialist.
Julia Kohn-Brown shared, “We have an extremely unique opportunity to impact people’s lives through Confidential Advocacy. Teens are experiencing violence—in their relationships and at home. As an Advocate, I get to provide a dedicated space for students to ask questions and make informed choices without the looming fear of me sharing their information. Ultimately, I want everyone to know that violence is not inevitable. We get to imagine—and practice—what kind of world we want to have for our community.”
Nick Guerrero, MSW, is honored to be receiving this award on behalf of the Prevention Education team at Raphael House of Portland. Nick has devoted his career to preventing gender-based violence and supporting survivors—including 15 years as an advocate and leader at Raphael House, during which he guided the Prevention Education program for five years.
We will present Raphael House of Portland with the 2023 Innovation Award at #HealthyTeen23, our annual national conference, to be held October 2-4. We hope you can join us in Portland to help congratulate Nick!
Wondering who else has received the Innovation Award? Check out past awardees on our conference website.
At Healthy Teen Network, we believe every young person has the right to be who they are and love who they love. And we see you, the professionals and caring adults, helping them do this. We know you do your best when you're connected to great opportunities and resources. That's why we're here...to help make those connections and support you. Read more about us.