Tackling the Black Maternal Health Crisis: How WFN Members are Leading the Way

Black Maternal Health Week graphic showing illustrations of five Black pregnant women

As we recognize Black Maternal Health Week, we are reminded of the urgent need to address the systemic issues that contribute to the Black maternal health crisis. Women’s funds and foundations are uniquely positioned to make a difference in this area, through grant-making, advocacy, and programmatic work that prioritizes the voices and experiences of Black women, Black birthing people, and their families. 

We would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of our member organizations that are doing important work to improve Black maternal health outcomes:

I Be Black Girl
With a specific portfolio of work on Black Birth Justice, which includes a doula workforce program, advocacy efforts that advance birth justice, a statewide coalition, and a doula access fund, I Be Black Girl is working to address the systemic racism and discrimination that Black women and Black birthing people face in maternal healthcare in Nebraska.
>>Visit the I Be Black Girl website

Women’s Foundation of Arkansas
Arkansas has one of the highest Black maternal mortality rates in the country, and the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas is committed to ensuring that Black women and their families have access to the resources and support they need to have healthy pregnancies and safe childbirth experiences.
>>Visit the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas website

Fund for Women & Girls
FWG is working on a new Initiative with a focus on Black maternal health. They are currently in the early phase, which aims to address racial disparities in maternal healthcare in Fairfield County, Connecticut. So far they have convened experts and community leaders to develop a strategy that will achieve the desired outcome of improved maternal health outcomes for Black women and Black birthing people and their families in the county.
>>Visit the Fund for Women & Girls website

SVP Cleveland
SVP Cleveland supports a local organization called Birthing Beautiful Communities, which is focused on Black maternal and infant health. SVP Cleveland is also working on a paid family and medical leave initiative for Cleveland municipal workers.
>>Visit the SVP Cleveland website

New York Women’s Foundation
By funding organizations such as Bx (Re)Birth and ProgressAncient Song Doula Services, and more, The New York Women’s Foundation invests in Black women and gender-expansive people’s right to live freely, safely, and joyfully. The Foundation also invests in longer-term work to center the humanity and human rights of Black parents and birthing people by resisting family separation and ending non-consensual drug or alcohol testing and screening of pregnant or postpartum individuals. They do so by supporting grantee partners spearheading the Informed Consent Coalition: Movement for Family PowerJMAC for Families, and Drug Policy Alliance.
>>Visit the New York Women’s Foundation website

WNY Women’s Foundation
The WNY Women’s Foundation has brought together local nonprofits, doulas, and healthcare professionals to discuss how to bring attention to the issue of Black maternal health disparities and who to include in the conversation. They are also collaborating with a local medical school to support their planning of a reproductive justice conference that will feature a screening of the documentary Aftershock, which highlights the Black maternal mortality crisis in the US, followed by a panel discussion. The WNY Women’s Foundation is also researching the role of insurance companies and policymakers in Black maternal mortality rates, and they plan to focus their annual signature event, What She’s Made Of (May 22nd), on the topics of health and the community.
>>Visit the WNY Women’s Foundation website

The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade
After inviting the recommendation of the Women’s Fund, the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County Emergency Management teams have included pregnant people as members of a “vulnerable population”, and reports have shown that extreme heat is linked to adverse birth outcomes and premature births. To raise awareness on this critical, often neglected/issue, for the third year in a row, The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade is launching a Public Awareness Campaign centered around the adverse effects of extreme heat and associated inequalities on their pregnant population and will engage governmental agencies and entities to broadcast public advocacy for pregnant people, especially women of color, and convene stakeholders to promote healthy pregnancies amid increasing heat spikes. The result is a more informed pregnant population that is aware of health impediments caused by searing temperatures and equipped to protect themselves and their families during extreme heat events.
>>Visit The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade website

These are just a few examples of the important work that women’s funds and foundations are doing to improve Black maternal health outcomes. By working together, we can amplify our impact and create meaningful change for Black mothers, Black birthing people, and babies across the country. We encourage all members of the Women’s Funding Network and other gender justice funders to continue to prioritize this critical issue in your work.

For more information on how to get involved or support these organizations, please visit their websites linked above.

Member Bureau