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LiveFree, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: The organizational goal is to train, educate and empower members of impoverished and marginalized communities to organize coalitions, networks, and interventions that respond to health, social and economic issues that bind and threaten personal well being.

Target demographics: The project focuses on at-resk African American and Latino adolescents, ages 12-14 (middle school). Our organization has built a solid relationship with organizations and youth consumers in the three towns: Summit, University Park, and Kankakee. Illinois Population: 12,653,544 Person < 100% Poverty: 10.7% Single Mother Household: 6.9% Kankakee Population: 27,491 Person < 100% Poverty: 25.6% Single Mother Household: 14.5% Summit Population: 10,635 Person < 100% Poverty: 23.5% Single Mother Household: 13.8% University Park Population: 6,662 Person < 100% Poverty: 12.5% Single Mother Household: 28.1%

Programs: Youth Advocates for Healthy Living (YAHL) YAHL allows adolescents in marginalized and vulnerable neighborhoods to serve as champions for health and wealth in their families, neighborhoods, and communities at large. The members of YAHL are aged 15–21 and residents of the Chicago Metropolitan region. The participants are engaged in monthly education and development sessions; participate in group projects; and complete individual leadership and outreach assignments. The goal of the initiative is to provide youth leaders with the knowledge, skills, support and venues to bring health and wealth to their own lives and then to their communities one family and one neighborhood/village at a time. The vision is a cadre of youth leaders and catalysts around the globe creating and implementing strategies that bring health and wealth to their own lives, first and then to family members, peers, communities, villages, and nations. Over the past six years, LiveFree, Inc. has partnered with multiple for-profit, nonprofit, and local government agencies to develop curricula and implement educational programs for youth and young adults in communities of color. Program collaborations include: Peer Education on AIDS, Relationships, Living Single and Self-Esteem (P.E.A.R.L.S.™) This intervention was developed and tested on the campuses of three Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Rust College in MS, Tougaloo College in MS, and Norfolk State University in VA). More than 110 women participated in the program. P.E.A.R.L.S. is a socio-cultural relationship-based intervention that seeks to reduce HIV/STD risk behaviors in Black college women, ages 18-24. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service funded this project. Role: Subgrantee for recruitment and training. Junior Education on Womanhood, Excelling in Life and Self Esteem (J.E.W.E.L.S.™) This program was developed and tested in four low-income communities in Suburban Cook County, IL with Black and Latina females, ages 9-15. The purpose of the program is to provide knowledge, skills, and support for the girls to make healthy choices that include avoiding premature sex, gang involvement, and juvenile delinquency. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and several small private foundations fund this program. Role: Subgrantee for recruitment, training, and deployment of private resources and foundation grants. Growing into Empowered Men Striving for Success (G.E.M.S.S.™) This intervention is designed to educate young Black and Latino adolescent males about the criteria for becoming marriage-eligible men and the social and health benefits of abstaining from premarital sexual activities. The intervention involves educational sessions, a recreational activity (i.e., martial arts) that builds self-control and self-confidence, and a mentoring component. A pilot was conducted with funds from the Missouri Department of Social Services. Role: Lead organization for one pilot. Decreasing the Impact of AIDS on MOthers, Daughters, Nieces, and Sisters (D.I.A.M.O.N.D.S.™) To strengthen and sustain the dialogue and support between Black female family members about the threat of HIV/AIDS and HIV risk reduction behaviors. The intervention will employ the use of natural venues, settings, and activities to facilitate information exchange about the seriousness of HIV/AIDS and the high susceptibility for contracting the disease amongst Black females; to uncover new strategies for female empowerment in relationships; and to foster social support between mothers, daughters, nieces, and sisters to engage in HIV risk reduction behaviors. A pilot project was conducted with funding from several private foundations, multiple community development corporations and individual private donors. Role: Lead organization for one pilot. Reaching at the Rink LiveFree, Inc. conducts multiple risk reduction education events focused on African American and Latino youth at local skating rinks during weekend family matinee events. These events reach the youth and their family members in a natural setting and address a variety of health topics (i.e., HIV/AIDS, pregnancy, obesity, etc.). The HHS Regional Office and private donors fund these events. Lead organization for programs.

Community Stories

2 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

African Youth Development and Health Foundation

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have never worked with you but this is a great organization

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

It has been my pleasure to work with the staff of Research and Evaluations Solutions, Inc. (REESSI) in their HIV/STI risk reduction project J.E.W.E.L.S that focuses on young African-American and Latina girls and young women in Illinois. Clearly a great deal of though was provided by Dr. Lorraine Morrow- Carter and her team of committed professionals in the development and implementation of this project.

In the U.S., 15% of all new HIV infections in 2006 were among people ages 13-24. Youth of color bear a disproportionate burden of new cases; 85% of new HIV or AIDS diagnoses in 2007 among youth ages 13-19 were to Latino and African American teens, who constitute only 32% of the youth population.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that there are 19 million new cases of STIs annually, almost half of them among young people ages 15–24. In the United States, reported cases of Chlamydia and gonorrhea exceeded 1.4 million in 2007. The rate among women was 3-fold that of men in 2007 with 543.6 cases per 100,000 women versus 190 cases per 100,000 men for Chlamydia. Teen girls ages 15 to 19 have the highest gonorrhea rate of any age group

Women of color (WOC) account for one-third of the female U.S. population but approximately 84 percent of the estimated number of women
Living with AIDS. The disparity is most egregious among Black/African-American* women, who comprise approximately 65 percent of all
Women living with AIDS.

Most WOC contract HIV through heterosexual contact.2 In fact, women are more biologically susceptible to HIV infection: Male-to-female transmission of HIV is 2 to 4 times more efficient (in the epidemiologic sense) than female-to-male transmission.

Many of the factors that render WOC especially vulnerable to HIV infection also serve as barriers to effective linkage to and retention in care. Moreover, lower retention
and adherence rates for WOC in care translate to lower rates of response to treatment and survival.

Clearly REESSI’s focus on these very vulnerable and disproportionately impacted communities is timely and extremely necessary. I look forward to our continued collaboration and shared response to this issue.

Peter McLoyd
Consumer Development and Advocacy Coordinator
Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center
Chicago, IL 60612