Community-rooted organizations have substantial evidence that their programs and services are effective at protecting positive birth outcomes for the Black and Brown families they serve and, in many cases, reduce or eliminate racial disparities. Their solutions should be a priority in any public health agenda, as communities are experts on their own lives and challenges. So, what is in the way of implementing these solutions in their respective states and across the country? How can we sustain community-rooted solutions to MCH challenges?
AMCHP is delighted to invite you to our Pathways to Sustainability webinar series, or “Pathways.” A multi-year investment, organized by Merck for Mothers with a co-funding circle of philanthropic partners, supported twenty city-based, community-led and community-centered organizations to implement solutions to address the racial inequities in maternal health that this country is facing. These organizations are building the evidence base for their approaches and together, are demonstrating how to turn the tide on maternal health. But turning tides is a monumental effort that requires dedication from people in power.
Hear from the Safer Childbirth Cities (SCC) leaders and program managers themselves about what community-rooted and community-based organizations need to stoke this momentum and turn their successes into our collective way forward. Let’s consider what it means to organize together and behind them.
- Describe why community-rooted efforts have the unique ability and perspective to protect the inherently powerful birth outcomes of the pregnant people they serve.
- Community-based organizations overwhelmingly operate alongside but outside of the medical and public health funding infrastructure and struggle to find sustained resources.
- Explain the unique challenges community-based organizations face in securing sustained funding for their service delivery models.
- Consider the local, state, and national level policy and system changes that could be made to remove barriers and institutionalize essential services and supports.
See below for more details and recordings from each session.
Tuesday, October 10 – Intro to the SCC Grant Program & Investing in the Longevity of the Doula Workforce
AMCHP’s Giannina Ong and Salomé Araya will introduce the Safer Childbirth Cities Sustainability Grant Program, which provides targeted, goal-based funding to overcome sustainability obstacles faced by grantees (individually, in groups, or collectively). Multiple Safer Childbirth Cities grantees expressed that extensive requirements to apply for and receive grants from federal or private sources have been barriers to successfully attaining financial support, especially for the community-based programs that have less capacity and staff. In administering this grant program, AMCHP created an equitable contracting and financial reporting process that minimizes unnecessary burden on the grantees while supporting and actively assisting community-based organizations in paving a pathway to sustainability. Each grantee received between $30,000 – $50,000 to overcome a barrier or implement a strategy that would have lasting effects on the sustainability of their efforts.
The first presentation will feature Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative’s (TBEI) Shamika Antwine-Boone, Program Project Manager, and Martyne Farris, Curriculum and Training Manager. TBEI is a community-based organization with a mission to help families in Tulsa to have healthy births with dignity and to reduce maternal health disparities through free community-based doula (CBD) support and training. Their CBDs are non-medical professionals who assist Black, Native, teen, and justice-involved individuals with emotional, physical, and informational support through pregnancy, labor and delivery, and early parenting. The TBEI team will discuss what it means to sustain and support community-based doulas in their work and their professional development and dive into the continuing education program they have developed.
Tuesday, October 17 – Developing a Community-Engaged Communications Campaign
Hear from EverThrive Illinois’ Tamela Milan-Alexander, Director of Community Engagement. EverThrive IL has a long history of engaging communities throughout Illinois for birth equity. They lead seven Family Councils made up of people with lived experience statewide who give input into statewide birth equity programming including Illinois’ Title V program, organizations supported by the Office of Women’s Health such as a project in coloration with the Illinois Perinatal Quality Collaborative to increase community participation in hospital’s quality improvement teams and the Taskforce on Infant and Maternal Mortality among African American’s focus groups, as well as informing the development and implementation of EverThrive IL’s programming. Ms. Milan-Alexander will discuss how the Gathering, a community-centered health education campaign developed from focus groups, has been disseminated to over 15,200 Chicagoans on the south and west sides in neighborhoods with the highest maternal mortality and morbidity, and its impacts.
Tuesday, October 24 – Cultivating a Space for Birthworkers & Community Advocacy
Join us as the Jackson Safer Childbirth Cities Experience’s Tara Shaw discusses cultivating a space to center, respect, and listen to the voices of birthworkers, those most impacted, and those who champion the care of families in need. The Jackson Safer Childbirth Cities Experience is community-based and focuses on providing the services of community-based doulas to African-American women of childbearing age, specifically those between the ages of 18 and 44. In hosting a one-day conference, the project team aimed to align on best ways to implement holistic care/birthworkers in health care spaces for families across the state as well as collaborate on ways to strengthen resources for birthworkers to build collective care for Black families that is community-driven.
Healthy Start, Inc. Pittsburgh (HS), established in 1991, was created out of the larger Healthy Start initiative as a community-based nonprofit whose mission is to reduce infant mortality rates in specific areas within Pittsburgh, facing the highest rates of poor birth outcomes within Black communities. Through the Safer Childbirth Cities initiative, HS Pittsburgh has supported mothers to create change within their own communities with the ultimate goal of making Pittsburgh a safe place to give birth for Black women and other birthing people. For Pittsburgh to be a safe place to give birth, legislators need to hear the voices of the people directly impacted because hearing from community voices is invaluable for legislators to understand how policy directly impacts the community. Learn about HS Pittsburgh’s program to train Community Advisory Committee members in policy advocacy.
Tuesday, October 31 – Documenting the Impacts of Doulas — Qualitatively and Quantitatively
The REACHUP, Inc. team of Ankita Patel, Doula Program Manager for the GROWTH with Doulas and Dads program, and Ronee Wilson, PhD, Reproductive and Perinatal Epidemiologist with expertise in disparity-related community-engaged research, will share about their community-based doula program in Tampa, FL. REACHUP, Inc. is a non-profit community-based organization whose work has impacted its community through health advocacy, research, and education. The mission of REACHUP, Inc., is to advocate for and mobilize resources to help communities achieve equality in healthcare and positive health for families. The REACHUP team is producing a journey map that illustrates the successes of their Safer Childbirth Cities community doula program. To date, their program has served nearly 600 birthing people and families. Moving beyond quantitative data, the team is working to document the journey of doulas and families to truly demonstrate the impact that this program has had on lives. One unique aspect of this project is the ability of qualitative documentation to acknowledge the emotional toll of doula work, as they provide emotional support and experience the joys and the sorrows alongside families while they are also caring for their families at home.
Our second presentation for the day will come from Stephanie Spencer, Founder and Executive Director of Urban Baby Beginnings (UBB). UBB is a non-profit organization that focuses on supporting the health and well-being of pregnant and postpartum people and their families in the Hampton Roads and Central Virginia areas. The organization provides a range of services and programs, including prenatal and postpartum care, breastfeeding support, childbirth education, and doula services. UBB also advocates for policy changes that support maternal and child health and well-being. The UBB team is working to create a report that summarizes the impact of the work, identifies barriers and gaps in services and support, and works toward sustained impact through a collective impact approach. The ultimate goal of collecting this data is to improve the health and well-being of low-income, Black, and Latinx communities by addressing systemic barriers and promoting equitable access to quality maternal and child health services.