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Avance Center for the Advancement of Immigrant/Refugee Health

George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health,
Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers & Community Partners
with a focus in Langley Park, Maryland

Key Issues

  • Langley Park, MD is one of several Washington, D.C. metropolitan area communities that have a high concentration of Latino immigrants (primarily from Central America). In Langley Park, there are disproportionate rates of substance abuse, violence, and risky sexual behavior among Latino youth. These co-occurring problems are embedded in a complex of social determinants stemming from the historical legacy of civil war, economic factors, difficult migration experience, and politics — resulting in long-term marginalization and concomitant health disparities.
  • Similar problems occur in communities like Langley Park elsewhere in the region and the country. The significant demographic increase in the national Latino population is an argument for increased efforts to identify effective approaches.
  • Many of the current stock of model/evidence-based programs for prevention of these issues are not tailored to these communities, or they focus narrowly on risk factors in selected domains, such as family or school. There is not enough of an evidence base for programs targeting these Latino communities that address the integration of multiple contributing factors (a social ecology).

Addressing These Issues

The Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University (GW), Department of Prevention and Community Health (PCH), together with the Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers (MMYC) and other community partners was awarded a five-year Exploratory P20 Research Center grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). P20 Center grants focus on specific health disparities, populations, and communities, and the GW Center focuses on disparities related to the Latino immigrant/refugee population (and parallels between this and other immigrant/refugee communities). This involves substantial community collaboration to address multiple contributing factors for substance abuse and co-occurring health issues (including interpersonal and family violence and risky sexual behavior) in Langley Park, MD, where – as noted – there are disproportionate rates of these co-occurring conditions. The Avance Center builds on an existing university-community collaboration, and employs a unique, multi-level intervention, called Adelante, drawing from lessons learned during a CDC-funded prototype intervention called SAFER Latinos. Adelante uses a modified Positive Youth Development (PYD) approach to build youth, family, and community supports as a prevention strategy.