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Coalition of Black Birth Justice Leaders to Advance Health Equity for Black Californians, Funded by $150,000 Health Net Grant

Date: 02/23/22

SACRAMENTO (February 23, 2022) – Health Net, one of California's longest serving and most experienced Medi-Cal partners, awarded a $150,000 grant to the UCSF California Preterm Birth Initiative (PTBi) and Cherished Futures for Black Moms & Babies (Cherished Futures). The organizations will use the funds to build a statewide coalition to advance Black birth justice.

In the U.S., Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, and twice as likely to suffer from short- or long-term complications than women of all other racial and ethnic groups.

"The fact that Black mothers face a greater risk for birth-related complications than their white counterparts is unacceptable," said Martha Santana-Chin, Medi-Cal President of Health Net. "At Health Net, our decades of experience in serving Californians has taught us that the best way to make a meaningful difference is by collaborating with and supporting community leaders to confront these issues head-on. We're proud to provide the resources necessary for these local women leaders to help advance birth equity for Black communities."

The initiative will be led by Dana Sherrod, Birth Equity & Racial Justice Manager with Cherished Futures; Esther Priscilla Ebuehi, Birth Equity Impact Analyst with Cherished Futures; Alexis Cobbins, PTBi Executive Director; and Solaire Spellen, PTBi Associate Director.

"There are many Black maternal and infant health efforts throughout California, but much of the work is siloed, which can leave advocates feeling overburdened. Our coalition will bring together Black birth justice leaders from across the state to coordinate actions that advance birth equity for Black communities in California," said Dana Sherrod, Birth Equity & Racial Justice Manager of Cherished Futures. "Until now, there has not been adequate investment in a statewide collaborative that centers around Black birth justice. We're grateful for Health Net's support in this important endeavor."

"We imagine a California that invests in Black women's leadership, innovation, and collaboration in order to move the needle on racial birth inequities. This coalition will serve as an intentional space for Black women to share key knowledge and co-create solutions for lasting change," said Alexis Cobbins, Executive Director of PTBi. "With Health Net's support, we are looking forward to lifting up birth justice solutions exclusively defined and vetted by Black community members and experts with a statewide perspective."

Better health outcomes start first and foremost with access to care. That's why Health Net has invested $100 million since 2017 in nearly 500 community initiatives to bridge the divide in access, equity, and quality of healthcare. Previous efforts include:

  • A doula program, which resulted in a 50% decrease in c-section rates for Black mothers in South Los Angeles.
  • A Cultural Broker Program, which alongside the Sierra Health Foundation and Black Child Legacy Campaign, provided culturally relevant healthcare to mothers and infants in Sacramento.
  • A collaborative partnership with Cherished Futures for Black Moms & Babies to reduce inequities, inform hospital quality improvement strategies, and ensure Black women have a seat at the table.
  • Expanding the doula program by partnering with HealthConnect One and investing in infrastructure and capacity building in Sacramento and Kern counties.

With decades of experience providing care for the state, Health Net continues to lead the charge to improve health equity with multi-faceted, collaborative, and culturally relevant programs and interventions at the statewide and local level. To learn more about Health Net's industry-leading efforts to drive health equity, visit

Last Updated: 02/23/2022