Monday, March 13, 2017

Fidelity and adaptation work best with the Mpowerment Project

After hearing of the implementation successes and challenges from CBOs across the country, we have concluded that the best way to achieve positive results from the intervention is to adhere to the Project’s Guiding Principles and include all of the necessary Core Elements while at the same time adapting them to the special needs of the community (See Module 1: Overview for a full description of Mpowerment Project Core Elements and Guiding Principles).

The Project’s Guiding Principles and Core Elements are described in detail throughout the Mpowerment Project (MP) manual, and you’ll also see examples of successful adaptations in each module. Following the Guiding Principles in adapting the intervention is essential, because they provide guidance in how to modify the program in ways that retain the essence of the program. The MP manual is free at mpowerment.org

These adaptation modules are free at mpowerment.org 


The Mpowerment Project was designed from the very beginning to be tailored to the unique needs of each community. 

Those CBOs who have experienced the most success with the Mpowerment Project facilitated an empowering, community-building process among young men in their community. They gave real decision-making authority to the young men in Core Group and found dedicated, skilled, and charismatic community members to work as paid staff, that is, as Project Coordinators


The GMHC Crew | Mpowerment Fairfax VA

RELATED
:  7 African American & Men of Color Mpowerment Projects 

The most successful Projects were both gay-affirming and sex-positive, and they sponsored a wide range of fun and engaging Social Outreach activities that attracted men to the Project, particularly men who had not been interested in attending HIV/AIDS prevention activities or organizations. The Projects successfully linked HIV prevention to the fulfillment of the young men’s social needs. The most successful Projects also mobilized young men to support their friends to have safer sex and knowing one's HIV status by teaching them in regularly scheduled peer-led groups about how to have supportive conversations regarding HIV prevention.

RELATED: The Mpowerment Project has been enhanced to help young MSM (YMSM) living with HIV to engage in the HIV treatment cascade. 


THE RETREAT.  The Mu Crew, Mpowerment Dayton OH

After attending these small groups and Social Outreach Events, the young men felt motivated and empowered to support each other about HIV testing and safer sex, both with friends they had already had, as well as with new friends. Men also heard more messages from each other about the importance of having safer sex and regular HIV testing. We observed and heard, again and again, that the CBOs that implemented the Mpowerment Project with fidelity had the most success reaching out to young men in the community and recruiting them to show up at events.

When we talk about “fidelity” we do not mean strict adherence to the exact ways that the intervention was conducted in our research. The MP was designed from the very beginning to be tailored to the unique needs of each community. The types of events that are most successful in Texas or Vancouver BC might never go over well with young men in California (or vice versa). We were heartened to see that many programs successfully modified the intervention so it was more relevant to their population or setting and fit the unique needs of their community, while still following the philosophy or spirit of the MP that is spelled out in the Guiding Principles. Researchers call these kind of changes to a program 'faithful' adaptation.


The Q Austin, Mpowerment TX


RELATED: 5 important questions for the Mpowerment Project to ask itself.

Case Study - Mpowerment Detroit, MI.

Mpowerment Detroit, a very successful Mpowerment Project prioritizing African American men who have sex with men (MSM) adapted the Core Group guidelines by creating six-month internships for young men interested in joining. They felt that the Project would be more successfully implemented if more structure was provided to the Core Group. The internship concept was their way of achieving a very committed group by adding status and responsibility to the position of Core Group members.

Each intern was assigned a mentor from the already established Core Group. The interns were then given a checklist of required activities to conduct before “graduating” to full core group status. While an internship process may seem like a major deviation from the original Core Group design, which was open to all, in fact the changes were grounded in the Guiding Principles (for more information about the Guiding Principles of the MpowermentProject, see Module 1: Overview). Here is how: 
  • The Empowerment Guiding Principle was adhered to because the Core Group members themselves decided on this change and continued to run the Core Group themselves, and even the interns had a strong voice in the group’s decision-making process.
  • The Social Focus Guiding Principle was adhered to because the group worked hard to create an atmosphere of togetherness and family. They even chose to adopt the name, “Young Brothers United,” and they worked hard to make their meetings fun as well as productive.
  • The power of Peer Influence Guiding Principle was adhered to since established Core Group members worked as mentors to interns, while continuing to spread the message about HIV prevention to their friends.
  • And, in a major indicator of the Project’s success, the Community- Building Guiding Principle was adhered to as numerous, carefully designed events were planned and executed, complete with safer sex messaging throughout.


Mpowerment Detroit, MI

In another example of faithful adaptation concerns decisions some Projects made regarding the hiring of Project Coordinators. In the original Mpowerment model, we always hired young men from the community to be Project Coordinators because we believed that this decision capitalized on the Peer Influence Guiding Principle. However, some CBOs either were not comfortable turning the Project entirely over to young men or couldn’t find young men to hire with sufficient maturity to run the Project themselves. Therefore, these Projects hired a Team Leader who was generally 5-10 years over the Project’s age range and was given some Coordinator responsibilities, but who also served as a role model, mentor, and Supervisor to the other Coordinators. 

These Projects then hired younger men into the remaining Coordinator positions. By doing so, they still recognized the importance of Peer Influence, while also acknowledging that communities only develop into strong and healthy ones if they have talented and experienced leaders. So, when these Projects hired a Team Leader outside the recommended age range of the Project, they were also helping to ensure its future success by making a concerted effort to help the younger Coordinators develop into future community leaders. 

RELATED: What characteristics make for a successful coordinator?  



The Mpowerment Project is one of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) effective interventions.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Evaluating the Mpowerment Project by reflecting on its Guiding Principles

Click to enlarge

In addition to tracking the number of men attending M-groups and outreach activities, it’s important for Coordinators to think about how Project activities relate to the Mpowerment Project’s Guiding Principles. The Coordinators should continually review the Guiding Principles to ensure that the Project is being implemented in accordance with them. 


For example, Coordinators must remember that the Project should:

  • focus on social issues as a way of attracting young adult gay and bisexual men
  • help empower the young men involved
  • strive to develop a stronger sense of community through the development of more social networks among young men 
  • infuse all Project activities with HIV prevention messages

Being a Coordinator rather than a volunteer requires a broader overview of the Mpowerment Project goals, objectives, and methods. 

Ultimately it is the Coordinators’ responsibility to ensure that these principles and others are being applied throughout all aspects of the Project. Some key areas for the Coordinators to pay attention to are described below. 

RELATEDWhat characteristics make for a successful coordinator?  


MPO Latino Oasis. Mpowerment New York City.

Empowerment of Volunteers


It is very important that the Coordinators continually consider the extent to which they are empowering volunteers, including those involved in the Core Group. By having the volunteers make and implement decisions about the Project, they gain a real sense of ownership of the Project and its activities. As a result, they will be more willing to work on the Project, and more likely to take its messages and goals as their own. This includes an increased willingness to spread the message of the importance of HIV testing and safer sex to their friends, publicize the Project’s activities through word-of-mouth to their friends, and invite their friends to join the Project.

This approach is one of the unique components of the Mpowerment Project—namely that the process of working on a product or event often is as important as getting the product or event completed. For instance, consider the following scenario. A Coordinator could work by himself to develop materials to promote HIV testing or safer sex, and often could do so in less time than if he were to delegate the task to volunteers. However, suppose instead that he worked with two volunteers to create those materials and afterwards they expressed pride at having done so. Then the extra time it took the volunteers to carry out this task was more than justified by their sense of accomplishment and a feeling that the material’s message is their own.

For this reason, it is critical for the Coordinators to continually evaluate if volunteers are feeling a sense of ownership for the Project or if, instead, they feel that the Coordinators make all the decisions and do the most important work. It’s also worthwhile remembering that once volunteers gain experience working on any task, the Coordinator can spend less time working with them in the future, so the initial investment in time is likely to result in a time- savings later on.

RELATEDHow to run a Core Group. via Mpowerment YVR (Vancouver BC).

RELATED4 easy steps for involving volunteers. Mpowerment Project best practices. 
Mpowerment New Haven CT

Always
Reflect, reflect, reflect.
Ask yourself: 
Are we following the Guiding Principles of the Project?” 

Diversity of Participants

Another area that requires constant monitoring is to what extent programs are reaching diverse segments of gay/bisexual men in the community. It is the responsibility of the Coordinators to keep revisiting this issue, and bringing it up at Core Group meetings.

By periodically referring back to the community assessment results (See the Mpowerment Manual, Module 2: Community Assessment), the Coordinators and Core Group can determine if all the groups of young adult gay/bisexual men in the community are represented at Project activities. Concerted efforts are necessary to ensure that formal outreach targets diverse groups, and that diverse groups are part of the Core Group and participate in M-groups.

When the Mpowerment Project was first implemented at several research sites, Coordinators successfully attracted many young gay/bisexual men of color into the Core Group and M-groups. In fact, these segments of young men ended up being overrepresented in both areas by comparison to demographics of the cities involved. This demonstrates that it is possible to reach such groups even if they have been underrepresented in community programs in the past.

RELATED11 themes to address in implementing Mpowerment for young Black gay and bisexual men 
RELATED9 Latino Mpowerment Projects 


Join us for the Mpowerment Project training.

Openness of the Core Group


The Project Coordinators need to reflect continually about the Core Group in order to ensure diversity in its membership. Of equal importance, however, is ensuring that the Core Group does not become cliquish and turn into a social club that does not actively welcome and encourage new participants. Since the Coordinators are central to the Core Group’s successful functioning, they play a significant role in maintaining the group’s openness. 

RELATED: 3 easy to remember motivators for joining your MP Core Group 

Read more about coordinators, including supervision best practices, in Module 4: Coordinators. Module 4 is a free download at www.mpowerment.org


Module 4: Coordinators:  Objectives

To familiarize you with the role of Project Coordinators, including: 
  1. their responsibilities;
  2. how to configure their roles when there is more than one Coordinator; 
  3. characteristics of effective Coordinators;
  4. use of behavioral objectives to supervise Coordinators, including sample behavioral objectives; 
  5. their training needs; and
  6. Coordinator evaluation duties. 



The Mpowerment Project is one of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) effective interventions.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Characteristics of effective Mpowerment Coordinators

Coordinators need to possess strong leadership skills, and the most successful Coordinators are those who are self-starters, extremely responsible, and well organized

These traits are critical because the Coordinators oversee a broad range of activities including M-groups, Social Outreach Events, outreach at bars and community events, publicity, administration, and ongoing evaluation. 

Coordinators must possess
a high degree of maturity,
 regardless of their chronological age,
 and be self-starters, 
extremely responsible, and well organized. 


RELATED:  What is the Mpowerment Project? Download Module 1: Mpowerment Overview.

Coordinators also must possess a high degree of maturity, regardless of their chronological age. They must be willing to be reflective about the Project’s functioning and their roles within the intervention. Hiring Coordinators who have a strong personal commitment to HIV/AIDS prevention or to gay community issues, as demonstrated through their past work and/ or volunteer history is also extremely important. If Coordinators don’t have a strong personal commitment to the goals of the Project, it will be extremely difficult to motivate them to conduct Informal Outreach through their own friendship networks or to put in the effort required to make the Project successful. Furthermore, Coordinators who require a step-by-step cookbook approach to guide them in performing their jobs are unlikely to be able to perform these complicated roles effectively.


Coordinators should be outgoing,
 comfortable talking to strangers, social, welcoming,
 passionate about HIV prevention
 and community-building,
 willing to share decision-making power,
 and enthusiastic about conducting
 all of the Core Elements. 

An important part of being a Coordinator involves motivating other people to plan and carry out activities, and sharing ownership of the Project with them. Coordinators who share responsibilities for decision-making with Project participants—instead of just telling them what to do or assigning volunteer tasks—are more successful. The reality is that Coordinators can’t do all the work themselves, and they will accomplish a great deal more if they work collaboratively with others using a nonhierarchical organizational approach. Also, by sharing the authority for developing plans and making decisions with other Project participants, Coordinators are advancing an important goal of the Project, namely empowering the young gay and bisexual men’s community.



There are many ways that effective Coordinators accomplish this. One key strategy is to encourage Core Group members to reflect on their roles and decisions, including the implications of their decisions. It is not the role of the Coordinators to tell the group exactly what to do or to overtly point out mistakes. This approach fosters a sense of empowerment among Project volunteers and builds strong decision-making skills, while at the same time it keeps the group on track. 

RELATED3 easy to remember motivators for joining your MP Core Group
RELATED8 clever ways to support and supervise volunteers (and avoid burnout).
RELATED: 4 easy steps for involving volunteers.


the coordinators of The Q Austin, Mpowerment TX

Coordinator best practices:
the Mu Crew, Mpowerment Dayton OH

Read more about coordinators, including supervision best practices, in Module 4: Coordinators. Module 4 is a free download when you register at www.mpowerment.org

Module 4: Coordinators:  Objectives

To familiarize you with the role of Project Coordinators, including: 
  1. their responsibilities;
  2. how to configure their roles when there is more than one Coordinator; 
  3. characteristics of effective Coordinators;
  4. use of behavioral objectives to supervise Coordinators, including sample behavioral objectives; 
  5. their training needs; and
  6. Coordinator evaluation duties. 




Thursday, November 3, 2016

Obamacare / Affordable Care Act and Health Insurance Enrollment 2016 - What Mpowerment Projects Can Do.

Everyone needs access to affordable health care, especially young adult bisexual and gay men. 

Millennial young bisexual and gay men's lives are in transition. There is a lot going on. Moving out, being independent, finding a job and/or going to a University or Community College.  Why is it important to think about preventative health care?  Yes, well gay men are at increased risk for certain chronic diseases and mental health problems. HIV infections are also increasing among young adult gay and bisexual men.  Think about it, nobody should go broke because they become ill, need medications or break an arm. Let's make it a goal to get more young men enrolled in health insurance. 


Mpowerment Long Island NY

Open Enrollment Deadlines

  • November 1, 2016: Open Enrollment 2017 starts. This is the first day you can enroll, re-enroll, or change health plans for 2017.
  • December 15, 2016: You must enroll in or change health plans by this date for your health plan to start January 1, 2017.
  • January 1, 2017: 2017 insurance starts if you enrolled or changed plans by December 15.
  • January 31, 2017: Last day to enroll in or change a 2017 health plan. After this date, you can enroll or change plans only if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
Find someone nearby to help you to apply. Click me.

Save these dates...participate!
December 5th to 10th - LGBT Enrollment Week of Action
December 10th - National Youth Enrollment Day of Action
Dec. 15th - Deadline for coverage that starts January 1st, 2017

We need your help to keep things moving in the right direction for young adults. What can your Mpowerment Project do to encourage discussion about the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare?  Mpowerment Projects (MP) can bring awareness and information about enrolling in health insurance coverage to their participants. Let these helpful sites guide you.


The Affordable Care Act helps young adult gay and bisexual men living with HIV. Here are some of the many ways that Obamacare helps everyone living with HIV.  


SOMOS OC, Mpowerment Orange County CA

Mpowerment Projects can host discussion events on the importance of health insurance coverage and why young adult gay and bisexual men can benefit from having insurance. Have your Core Group members discuss ideas on how to get more young men enrolled in health care.

Share me!  Out 2 Enroll features a series of shareables. They've go reminders about the start of enrollment, free in-person LGBTQ-friendly assisters, and more. (Facebook / Twitter)


Social Media Kit:  Our friends at HHS have put together an awesome toolkit, which includes key Open Enrollment messages, graphics and video, a social media calendar and more. It will be updated throughout Open Enrollment and will be a one-stop shop for #GetCovered content.  Check it out here.  
#HealthyAdulting is a new Young Invincibles campaign to provide resources to Millennials on all things coverage to care. Check it out here

Hashtag me: #GetCovered |  #WhyImCovered | #HealthyAdulting







Articles of interest / Articles to discuss with your participants.




++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Enroll America talking points on the Election and the ACA
  • Now that the election is over, we know that consumers, navigators, and partners have expressed concerns and asked questions about the future of the Affordable Care Act and their ability to enroll in quality, affordable health coverage through the Marketplace.
  • That is particularly true for the more than 12 million Americans who have come to count on the coverage they’ve purchased through the Affordable Care Act marketplace, and another 15 million who have gained coverage through Medicaid since 2013.
  • Both groups are deeply worried about what the election results mean for their health, their families, and their financial security.
  • As of now, nothing about the Affordable Care Act marketplace has changed, and consumers who enroll and pay their first premium by December 15 will have coverage starting January 1.
  • We know that consumers have questions about the election and the implications for their coverage moving forward, and we will be paying close attention to this topic.
  • If anything were to change about their coverage options for 2017, our staff, volunteers and partners will be available to help consumers understand what it means for them.
  • But right now, it is critically important to reassure consumers that nothing has changed.
  • Open enrollment is ongoing right now, and consumers should continue to enroll.
  • And the excitement we’ve seen from consumers, and the dedication and energy we’ve seen
  • from the enrollment community, makes us optimistic about what we can accomplish during this enrollment period. 
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Enroll America Q&A on the Election and the ACA Q&A

Q. What do you think President Trump and the Republican Congress will do about the Affordable Care Act?
  • I can’t speculate about what actions the President or Congress might take in the future.
  • What I can say is that as of now, nothing has changed about the fourth enrollment period – not dates, not plans, and not prices.
  • Furthermore, a “full repeal on Day 1” likely won’t be possible because of the 60 vote threshold to move legislation in the Senate.
  • So even if reconciliation legislation is used to roll back parts of the Affordable Care Act, it’s likely that 2017 plans will remain in place.
  • That’s particularly true because both issuers and Members of Congress have expressed a desire to avoid disruptions and do no harm to consumers already in the system.
  • Assisters in the HealthCare.gov states are already funded through September 2017, and that funding can’t be revoked.
  • That means free, expert assistance will continue to be available to consumers throughout the enrollment period and beyond.
  • So the bottom line is that as of now nothing has changed, and consumers can still enroll in affordable coverage that will help to meet their families’ healthcare needs.

Q. What are you doing to get the word out to consumers who make think that Obamacare has already been repealed?
  • Our staff and our partners are already actively engaged in reaching out to consumers to enroll in coverage during the open enrollment period, and energy and enthusiasm has been high.
  • So they are all perfectly positioned to let consumers know that – no matter what happened in the election – they are still able to get financial help and enroll in a plan right now.
  • Over the next few months, we’ll be working tirelessly to spread the word and help as many people as possible enroll in or renew their coverage.

Q. But how can you in good faith tell consumers to enroll when it’s almost certain the law will be repealed?
  • Because it’s absolutely true that as of now, nothing has changed.
  • Consumers can enroll in coverage right now, pay their premium by December 15, and begin using their insurance for medical care on January 1.
  • Any changes will not impact consumers until after the new Administration and Congress is sworn in, and even if they do choose to make changes, those changes may not impact consumers for a year or more.
  • But right now, consumers can receive financial help to enroll in coverage, and use that coverage to access care. 
  • That is an incredibly important opportunity for millions of American families, and we want to make sure they know it is still available to them. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mpowerment training: Welcome to the Bay Area.

Welcome to the bay area. Here is a list of things to do above-and-beyond the Mpowerment training.

Contents:

  • The Castro 
  • San Francisco
  • Weather check
  • Mission Bay (where the Mpowerment training takes place).


The Castro.

The GLBT History Historical Society collects, preserves and interprets the history of GLBT people, and the communities that support them. Located in San Francisco's Castro District, The GLBT History Museum is the first full-scale, stand-alone museum of its kind in the United States.

'Out of the Bars and into the Streets.' An audio-walking tour about Harvey Milk and the rise of gay power.  Download the tour map and audio guide here.

Check out a movie at the historic Castro Theater. 

Castro district, neighborhood guide: My Castro

San Francisco.


'The best way to see San Francisco is by bike.' Consider taking a bike tour with Daniel and Tim. Streets of San Francisco Bicycle Tours.



San Francisco bucket list: Things to do in SF before you die. YES on 33,34, 58 and 60!

The history of San Francisco landmarks that no one told you


Weather check
Packing? San Francisco five day weather forecast.
It is (usually) cooler and (often) windy. Check to see if you will need a wind-breaker / jacket and a umbrella for showers.  SF average rain and temperatures.

The Mpowerment training is being held at:
Mission Hall - UCSF Mission Bay
550 16th St, Room 1401/2
San Francisco, CA 94158
You will need to show your ID to security in the lobby. Security will have a list of training attendees. 
Mission Hall - UCSF Mission Bay

Mission Hall - UCSF Mission Bay
UCSF Mission Bay Campus Map
The Ramp is only a seven minute walk from Mission Hall. Originally a bait shop in the '50s, The Ramp has morphed into a fun and casual restaurant. A local-favorite. (walking-directions).

You may want to begin exercises your legs for the hills.