RICHMOND, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Grants totaling $1.45 million over three years have been awarded to three Virginia-based nonprofit organizations serving the maternal health needs of women in historically underserved communities, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation announced today.
These grants are among $90 million in donations to be awarded by the Foundation over the next three years to organizations across the U.S. making positive impact and improvements in areas of maternal health, substance use disorder and hunger.
“For over 20 years, we have been actively improving lives and communities across Virginia, and these grants reflect the scope and depth of that commitment,” said Jennie Reynolds, President of Anthem HealthKeepers Plus. “Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation is pleased to support the critically important work of Urban Baby Beginnings, Postpartum Support Virginia and Birth in Color to sustain healthy pregnancies, reduce preterm births and foster strong parenting in traditionally high-risk areas across the Commonwealth.”
The Virginia grant recipients are:
Urban Baby Beginnings, an $825,000 grant over three years to support Project ReByrth, an initiative that will create a new maternal health community-based hub in Petersburg and enhance existing hubs in Richmond, Newport News and Norfolk. The hubs are one-stop centers where families can access maternal health education, classes, social support, and baby essentials.
“Our mission at Urban Baby Beginnings is to reduce adverse outcomes and the isolation that families often experience during prenatal, postpartum and early childhood, and we have found over the past 28-plus years that maternal health hubs provide a safe, welcoming and supportive place for new moms,” said Stephanie Spencer, executive director of Urban Baby Beginnings. “We’re grateful to the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation for recognizing and supporting the expansion and enhancement of our hubs.”
Postpartum Support Virginia, a $475,000 grant over three years to support Collaborative Rounds, an initiative that facilitates collaboration among maternal health providers, especially screening and support for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. The grant includes support for evidence-based support groups and will cover activity in Southwest Virginia and Hampton Roads.
“The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation grant will go a long way to build and strengthen new and existing relationships in two areas of the state with high levels of need for postpartum support,” said Mandolin Restivo, acting executive director at Postpartum Support Virginia. “Mental health wellness for many new mothers, especially as they experience COVID-induced periods of isolation, is an often-overlooked risk factor following delivery, and our programs have proven to be an effective means for giving these moms the support they need.”
Birth in Color, a $150,000 grant over two years to fund the training and development of 18 doulas of color in underrepresented localities in Virginia, including Roanoke, Hampton Roads, and the Northern Neck. The new doulas, who will join an existing network of doulas of color, will provide prenatal and postpartum care to Black women and women of color in culturally sensitive ways.
“Since our founding over three years ago, Birth in Color has helped to enhance the availability of maternal care by supporting the training and sustainability of doulas whose own backgrounds and experiences mirror those of the moms that they are serving,” said Kenda Sutton-El, the executive director of Birth in Color and herself a trained doula. “Thanks to this Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation grant, we can accelerate new doula training, whose work in the communities they serve is critical for the health of babies and mothers alike.”
In 2018, Virginia ranked in the bottom half of states with a maternal death rate of 16.0 per 100,000 births, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More broadly, the United States ranked last among industrialized countries with a rate of 17.4 deaths per 100,000 births in 2018 per The Commonwealth Fund.
“High quality, culturally competent maternal health care not only ensures the health and wellbeing of moms and babies, but also serves as a vital public health resource that lifts up and supports entire families, communities and health systems across the Commonwealth,” said John Littel, Secretary of Health and Human Resources in Virginia. “The partnership between the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, Urban Baby Beginnings, Postpartum Support Virginia and Birth in Color is going to help build a brighter, healthier future for mothers, babies and all of our neighbors throughout Virginia.”
The parent foundation of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield has committed nearly $15 million in grants to address maternal health across six states. Each initiative will focus on one or more of the following goals: reducing preterm birth rate, reducing maternal morbidity and mortality, and reducing primary cesarean rate. These grants are part of up to $30 million the Foundation plans to invest over the next three years to make significant progress on improving maternal health outcomes.
About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation
The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc. The Foundation works to address health equity by focusing on improving the health of the socially vulnerable through strategic partnerships and programs in our communities with an emphasis on maternal child health; mental health; and food as medicine. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Dollars for Dollars program which provides a 100 percent match of associates’ donations, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. To learn more about the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, please visit http://www.anthem.foundation and its blog at https://medium.com/anthemfoundation