In the ongoing battle against sexual violence, Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) programs in California have emerged as powerful agents of change, fostering effective and lasting transformations within schools and communities. From 2019 to 2024, California Rape Crisis Centers, with RPE funding from the California Department of Public Health, conducted almost 26,000 events and over 1 million interactions toward preventing sexual violence. These staggering numbers underscore the breadth and depth of engagement achieved by these programs, reflecting a collective commitment to combatting sexual violence.


A key highlight of the RPE program’s success is the significant policy and protocol changes reported by participating schools and communities. Nearly 90% of school-based RPE programs implemented measures aimed at reducing sexual violence, demonstrating a tangible shift towards creating safer environments for students. Similarly, approximately 70% of community mobilization projects recorded policy changes geared toward addressing sexual violence at the grassroots level. These statistics underscore the systemic impact of RPE interventions, transcending individual actions to effect broader societal change.


The culmination of these efforts was recently showcased in a recent web conference organized by the California Department of Public Health and the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health. They shared the findings of the 2019-2024 RPE Evaluation, celebrated achievements, and gleaned valuable insights and lessons learned. Presenters share data collected from over 12,000 participants statewide, including a substantial youth representation of nearly 30%, to provide a comprehensive overview of the program’s effectiveness.


One of the RPE program’s defining features is its multifaceted approach to addressing sexual violence. From process evaluations to community-level impact assessments, the evaluation delved into various aspects, including qualitative feedback from facilitators and pre/post surveys from youth and young adult participants. This comprehensive analysis quantified the program’s success and provided invaluable qualitative insights into its operational dynamics and participant experiences.


The dedicated individuals and organizations driving change on the ground are at the heart of the RPE program. During the web conference, prevention practitioners from several RPE programs shared their perspectives on impactful activities, highlighting the diverse strategies employed by different programs. Hercelia Garnica from Strength United emphasized the importance of one-on-one conversations with community members and improving community environments through art and collaboration. At the same time, Aleena Mendoza from WEAVE underscored the value of hosting listening sessions with youth, translating their feedback into actionable steps for staff members.


Behind the scenes, the California Department of Public Health is pivotal in supporting and coordinating RPE initiatives by funding 16 school-based programs and eight community mobilization projects. VALOR provided training and technical assistance to enhance the capacity of RPE implementers, further amplifying their impact.


The need for sustained investment and support remains paramount as the RPE program continues to evolve and expand its reach. By nurturing partnerships, fostering dialogue, and championing evidence-based approaches, California’s RPE initiatives are not only preventing sexual violence but also laying the foundation for safer, more inclusive communities. Through collective action and unwavering dedication, the journey toward a future free from sexual violence is well underway.