Partnering to improve maternal health outcomes in Tennessee

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee has awarded more than $276,000 in maternal health grants to six community organizations aimed at improving maternal health outcomes, reducing disparities and expanding access to care.

“Pregnant women in the U.S. are increasingly experiencing adverse maternal and birth outcomes, particularly Black women,” said Keith Payet, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee. “UnitedHealthcare believes that we must identify and support high-risk mothers early and throughout their care journey including after birth, through partnerships with national and local community-based organizations.”

The six grant recipients include:

  • BSTARS – Serving Memphis; $5,000 to support Black women who choose to breastfeed.
  • Catholic Charities of West Tennessee, Inc. – Serving West Tennessee; $40,200 to fund personnel, food boxes and marketing materials to expand services to target Memphis residents.
  • Community Alliance for the Homeless (CAFTH) – Serving Memphis and Shelby county; $45,000 to expand an emergency shelter program for households with children.
  • Mother to Mother – Serving Nashville; $65,964 to purchase infant car seats, toddler car seats, cribs and strollers.
  • Nashville Diaper Connection – Serving Nashville; $45,000 to purchase diapers and support program promotional materials.
  • SisterReach – Serving Memphis; $75,000 to support housing, food, clothing, domestic violence prevention services, utility assistance and doula services.

“Nashville Diaper Connection's mission is to ensure that every baby in Nashville has enough diapers to remain clean, dry and healthy. We leverage Nashville Diaper Connection's partner network and our diaper donations to improve crucial maternal, infant and toddler health outcomes,” said Doug Adair, CEO and founder of Nashville Diaper Connection. “This maternal health grant allows us to better serve high-risk mothers and babies while working toward our goal of “No Child Wet Behind.”

"Centering the needs of women, mothers, children and families is central to what the reproductive justice framework was intended to accomplish. Ensuring that women and mothers can lead a healthy life, raise healthy families and live in compassionate and sustainable communities is not only our responsibility as human rights advocates, but as neighbors and servants in our community,” said Cherisse Scott, CEO and founder, SisterReach. “Our partnership with UnitedHealthcare allows us to address and provide some of the practical and immediate needs vulnerable people and families in Shelby County require. In March, we launched Pearl's Pantry, named in honor of my dearly departed mother. The program will feature a food pantry and clothes closet for the entire family. Participants will also be connected to other programs and resources SisterReach and our program partners provide."

Infants born preterm or with low birth weight are at an increased risk for experiencing physical disabilities and developmental impairments throughout their lives. According to America’s Health Rankings, the rate of Tennessee’s low birth weight infants (defined as less than 5 pounds 8 ounces) is now 9.3% of births, leaving the state ranked 41 of 50 states. Additionally the state’s preterm birth rates have been increasing for three years, making up 11.2% of current births, and the state’s Black women have a 44% higher rate than all other women according to March of Dimes, which fights for the health of all moms and babies

These grants are part of several initiatives that UnitedHealthcare, along with its parent company UnitedHealth Group, is launching to address maternal health outcomes throughout the United States, including over $5 million in recent philanthropic grants to support maternal health and $2.85 million in support to March of Dimes for a public-private partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services that aims to reduce the Black-White disparity gap and improve maternal health outcome

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