3 Virginia nonprofits addressing maternal health needs in Hampton Roads to share $1.45 million in grants

RICHMOND, Va. – Three Virginia-based nonprofit organizations serving the maternal health needs of women in historically underserved communities will share $1.45 million in grants awarded by the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation.

These grants are among $90 million in donations that the Foundation will reward to organizations across the country making positive impact and improvements in areas of maternal health, substance use disorder and hunger.

The grants come as Virginia struggles with its maternal death rate. 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. The United States also ranked last among industrialized countries, with a rate of 17.4 deaths per 100,000 births in 2018.

“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.”

Virginia’s grant recipients are Urban Baby Beginnings, Postpartum Support Virginia and Birth in Color, which help communities across Virginia and in the Hampton Roads area sustain healthy pregnancies, reduce preterm births and foster strong parenting.

Urban Baby Beginnings will receive 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.

Postpartum Support Virginia will receive 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.

Birth in Color will receive 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.