Mamabird Inc

Colorado Access: Black Maternal/Infant Health and Mortality

“We want to improve the outcomes for Black birthing health in our community. All birthing persons and their birthing families should feel safe, respected and fully confident in the high quality, culturally responsive care they access and receive. We are committed to taking small steps toward the big changes needed to repair and shift systematically racist systems, heal with Black birthing families, and reclaim childbirth as a joyful, liberating experience.”

In July 2021, nearly 50 leaders, mostly Black community members, birthing workers and advocates established this vision as part of an innovation process hosted by Colorado Access. Their task: to design solutions to turn the curve on Black maternal/ infant health and mortality. The Civic Canopy supported the design and facilitation of this process, particularly to increase the skills of Colorado Access staff andsupport community-led solutions toward health equity. Rather than designing solutions for Black birthing individuals and their families, Colorado Access recruited participants and created space for Black birthing individuals, their families, supporters, and others to design solutions for themselves and decide how to invest $1.15 Million in those solutions.

Over seven months, the group of leaders developed relationships, conducted root cause analyses, brainstormed solutions, built out action plans and made final decisions on how to best allocate the Community Innovation Pool dollars to address the rising rates of Black maternal mortality (see infographic). The result was three solutions aimed to further their vision.

Increase Access to Birthing Professionals
This solution brings together Black leaders, Stride Clinic, Mama Bird Maternity Wellness Spa, and Sacred Seeds Doula Collective to cover the services of Black Doulas for about 40 birthing families over 2 years. The solution will test how providing culturally appropriate birth workers might improve birthing outcomes like decreasing birth trauma, increasing culturally responsive care, and increasing collaborative structures on birthing teams.

Increase Access to Mental Health Supports
This solution creates a community –led grant fund to elevate mental health supports for Black birthing individuals. The grants will support innovative, non-traditional, and traditional Black birthing mental health initiatives to increase access, capacity, and partnership with Black mental health providers. Funding will cover two years and will ask grantees to self-design measures of success.

Develop a Community Hub
This solution develops an online resource and engagement platform exclusively for the Black community in Colorado to connect with Black medical professionals, find needed resources, and connect with each other.

The months of planning, facilitation, support, advocacy, and relationship-building with Black leaders, allies, and Colorado Access embodied the Canopy core belief that “communities are filled with assets and solutions” and helped illustrate the power of The Civic Canopy’s Equity Standards of Practice. We used the following approaches to embed equity throughout the process:
While not without flaws, this project helped community members and Colorado Access see firsthand the power of community-owned decisions. It has allowed the Canopy to see new pathways of how community members and institutions can work together to transform the systems that currently hold inequities in place.

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