Health Foundation of South Florida Invests More Than $2 Million in Three Initiatives to Address Health Equity in the Region’s Black Communities
The Health Foundation of South Florida announced more than $2 million in funding for two initiatives aimed at addressing Black maternal health inequities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties and a community-based peacemaker program in Liberty City and Overtown. The grants were unveiled at the second annual Black Health Summit, which took place earlier this month at Florida Memorial University and drew more than three hundred healthcare, education, philanthropy, and community leaders to discuss the current state of Black health in South Florida. The Summit aimed to identify actionable solutions and collaborations for addressing longstanding inequities impacting health and well-being for Black residents across the region. The three investments are:
Improving Doula Access and Integration in Miami-Dade
A collaborative of organizations, comprised of Jackson Health System, Southern Birth Justice Network, Metro Mommy Agency, Magnolia Birth House and YWCA South Florida, will receive more than $930,000 to help build the infrastructure needed to incorporate community-based doulas (trained professionals who provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support before, during and shortly after childbirth) into the pre-natal, birthing and postpartum process with the goal of reducing Black maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. The initiative will include training Jackson Health System doctors and providers on the doula model of care, creating a coordinated doula referral process, as well as modifying the health system’s policies to allow for the integration doula services. In addition, Jackson Health System will establish a fellowship program to recruit and train 65 doulas, and the YWCA will provide at least 15 local doulas and midwives with assistance and training to help strengthen their businesses.
Opening an OB/GYN clinic in a Maternity Care Desert in Broward
A second collaborative, comprised of Community Care Plan, Broward Health, Urban League of Broward County, and the Broward County Healthy Start Coalition, will receive $850,000 to open an OB/GYN clinic to serve zip codes 33311 and 33313, which include Oakland Park, Lauderhill and Sunrise, areas currently known as maternity care deserts. The clinic, which will be staffed with OB/GYN as well as doulas and midwives, will systemically integrate processes to address patients’ health-related social needs, such as stable housing, nutrition, and transportation. It will also implement technological solutions to help monitor and manage patients and facilitate referrals for social services with the overarching goal of improving the health outcomes of Black mothers and babies.
Implementing Trauma-Informed, Community-Based Violence Prevention in Liberty City and Overtown
The Circle of Brotherhood (COB), a nonprofit organization primarily comprised of Black men committed to crime reduction, violence prevention, economic empowerment, and youth mentorship, will receive $290,000 for its Peacemakers program. Peacemakers are non-traditional community-based workers who monitor and support community safety by strengthening community relationships and connecting neighborhood residents to services like employment training, housing, food, health care access, and other social drivers of health.
“We are committed to bringing together partners from across the community to collaborate on health inequities that disproportionately affect South Florida’s Black communities,” said Loreen Chant, the Health Foundation’s President and CEO. “We are especially excited about breaking down silos and bringing together health systems and community-based organizations to address the disturbing and totally unacceptable disparities that exist in Black maternal health. We are also incredibly proud to support Circle of Brotherhood’s Peacemakers program that addresses the health and safety needs of some of our most vulnerable communities.”
The initiatives that received investment were either a result of or directly shaped by last year’s first Black Health Summit, organized by the Health Foundation, whose goal was to bring together stakeholders from across sectors to inspire collaborations and spark solutions for addressing health inequities in the Black community.
This year’s conference, which took place on June 6 at Florida Memorial University and was headlined by Linda Villarosa, author of the 2022 critically acclaimed book “Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation,” focused on Black maternal health, toxic stress and healing, and the intersection of housing, race, and climate. With more than 300 guests, the annual event’s attendance doubled this year.
The two collaboratives focusing on Black maternal health in Miami-Dade and Broward were part of a cohort of 5 collaboratives selected by the Health Foundation last year to develop new solutions for addressing unmet patient needs, with the goal of improving health outcomes among low-income and racially or ethnically marginalized South Florida residents. Comprised of leaders from across the healthcare and social services sectors as well as community-based organizations, the collaboratives focused on improving chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma; access to healthcare; and Black maternal and infant health. (A third collaborative based in the Florida Keys, which includes the Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition, the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County and The Gabriel Project, also received $630,000 to increase prenatal and perinatal healthcare access and doula services, and to address the social needs of low-income pregnant people.)