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Perinatal Safe Zone: Supporting Healthier Pregnancies Together in Central Texas

Announcing the Recipients of our Funding toward Healthy Women and Girls

By Lourdes Rodríguez, DrPH, Senior Program Officer at St. David’s Foundation

Published August 26, 2021

My maternal grandmother, Engracia González-Pagán, was our family’s matriarch. That is a big deal role for a Puerto Rican woman. She, Abuelo Domingo Cordero-Montalvo, and their 12 children lived most of their lives in the mountain region in the heart of the island. They were not landowners, but between Abuelo’s job as a bookkeeper at a sugar cane processing plant (Central Peyé) and small crops and herds, it was enough to meet the family’s needs and share with others. While everyone would have been considered poor by today’s standards, it did not feel as though they lacked in anything they needed.

As a matriarch, Abuela’s role encompassed not only the well-being of her family but also of their neighbors. Supporting neighbors through their pregnancies was part of Abuela’s “scope of work.” Whether as a comadre (literally “co-mother,” a formal role reserved for the women whose kids one has presented for baptism), or as a vecina (neighbor), caring for pregnant women included meal trains, minding older children (not old enough to care for themselves) postpartum, help with household chores, occasionally admonishing an unreasonable husband, or walking alongside someone during the bereavement process. Mi abuela was part of creating a perinatal safe zone.

I am honored and delighted to follow in her steps, as we present to you the 12 projects selected for funding through St. David’s Foundation’s Perinatal Safe Zone: Supporting Healthier Pregnancies Together funding opportunity. We received 19 applications totaling a request of $1.8 million. The review committee, which included internal and external reviewers, brought a wealth of experience in grantmaking, public health, reproductive health, and health equity to the selection process.

The projects will support activities aimed at reducing maternal mortality, improving mental health, facilitating health insurance coverage, facilitating access to family planning and reproductive care, and initiating breastfeeding. We also invited applicants to think about how they might do their work differently, by using one or more of these key approaches, including:

  • A life course approach that considers how our past affects our present and shapes our future;
  • Socio-ecological approaches that understand that no woman is an island and that we are embedded in families, and those families live in neighborhoods and communities, and those communities exist within systems in a region, so that partners operate within multiple levels;
  • And a whole person approach, meaning that they do not only consider the women they serve as a reproductive vessel but also in their multiple roles (e.g. breadwinners and caregivers), and considering not only their physical, but also their mental and spiritual needs.

We have an exciting mix of complementary projects. Some are planning grants that will help develop new initiatives, provide opportunities for program quality improvement, and improve collaboration among a group of organizations to offer mamas their services in a seamless way. Others are implementation projects looking to expand existing program offerings, create greater access to services, or provide new birthing options for mamas in rural areas.

We invite you to peruse the project summaries and to reach out to us or our community colleagues to learn more about how you, your organization, or your business can—like mi abuela—contribute towards creating a perinatal safe zone in Central Texas. Learn more about our grantees and the larger movement we aim to be a part of here.

We are excited to partner with a stellar group of community partners in our work to transform Central Texas into a perinatal safe zone.

  • Austin Area Urban League + Hearts 2 Heal
  • Communities of Color United for Racial Justice
  • Con Mi Madre
  • Delivering Unto You
  • Doula Trainings International
  • Luz de Atabey Midwifery Project
  • Mama Sana Vibrant Woman
  • Maternal Health Equity Collaborative
  • Mommie Support Network + Georgetown Housing Authority
  • Partners in Parenting
  • People’s Community Clinic
  • Raices de Amor