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March Of Dimes Invests in Community Grants

Published 03/03/2018 by Global Communities


Grants Aim To Reduce Preterm Births By Encouraging Pregnancy Spacing, Enhancing Prenatal Care, And Improving Diagnosis of Heart Birth Defects

(SAN FRANCISCO, February 28, 2017)
 – March of Dimes announced today a substantial investment in

California community grants. One-year grants totaling $139,000 are being distributed to four new recipients. March of Dimes is also distributing $139,000 to five recipients in their final year of 2015 – 2017 grant projects, with three-year funding totaling more than $560,000. This brings the multi-year investment to $699,000. March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit for pregnancy and baby health. Community grants support March of Dimes vision to close the health inequities gap and improve infant health by reducing the occurrence of birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.

With the one-year California Community Grants, March of Dimes is funding innovative efforts to engage women in reproductive life planning and to encourage women to space pregnancies at least 18 months apart. “Thirty-nine percent of all pregnancies in California occur less than 18 months after the birth of a child,” said March of Dimes State Maternal Child Health Committee Chair, Diana E. Ramos, MD, MPH, Director, Reproductive Health, Los Angeles County Public Health. “Interpregnancy spacing (the time between the end of one pregnancy and the beginning of the next one) of less than 18 months is associated with higher rates of premature birth, low birthweight, neonatal complications, neonatal death and maternal complications, with very short pregnancy spacing (<6 months) carrying the greatest risk. There is a two-fold increase in early preterm births among women with very short pregnancy spacing of fewer than 6 months.”(*1)

All of the one-year grant recipients will implement One Key Question®, an initiative created by the Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Health. This model provides primary care health teams, community health workers, and other providers with a simple question to incorporate pregnancy intention screening, “Would you like to become pregnant in the next year?” into routine care and services. Women are then offered essential preconception care and reproductive health services (or referrals) depending on their needs.
The one-year grant recipients were selected from priority counties in California with a high burden or high volume of preterm births and high rates of pregnancies spaced less than 18 months apart.

“We know we can make a difference in the lives of babies and their moms when we provide funds to community-based or statewide projects that have the potential to improve birth outcomes and reduce premature birth rates, especially among high-risk groups,” said Kelly Ernst, MPH, March of Dimes Vice President of Maternal Child Health. “Fully one-third of all pregnancies in the U.S. occur less than 18 months after the birth of a child, which is a known risk factor for preterm birth. Ensuring that more women wait at least 18 months between giving birth and getting pregnant again can help reduce preterm birth rates. The March of Dimes has invested in community programs for more than 70 years. While we proudly fund innovative research in many of California’s leading educational institutions, research to develop new interventions takes time. Our community programs can ensure that known evidence-based interventions are made available to women right now to improve birth outcomes.”

March of Dimes California one-year grant recipients are:

1. La Clínica de La Raza (Alameda County) – $24,500 
The goal of the Reproductive Life Planning Project is to improve La Clínica’s capacity to proactively support female patients in meeting their reproductive health and family planning goals through patient-centered screening, follow-up, and care. La Clínica will implement One Key Question® at one clinic site in Alameda County, targeting women age 15-50.

2. Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center – $45,000
The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services Women’s Health Programs and Innovation Division has added reproductive life preference questions to its new Electronic Health Record system to be asked of all women of childbearing age who come in for ambulatory care services. The project team will train nurses, medical assistants and community health workers to ask One Key Question®, document in the medical record and provide follow-up services and education.

3. Project Concern International – $24,500 (San Diego County)
The Preconception Care Coordination Collaborative for San Diego will implement the One Key Question® model in 2-3 clinic and community locations. They will screen women who have had a baby in the previous 12 months. Women who answer the question with positive or uncertain pregnancy intention will be offered a class and home visit for preconception education, including reproductive life planning, and care coordination for any services needed. Women who receive a home visit will also receive a three-month follow-up visit to assess if they have made progress toward goals set during their first visit and to assist them with services.

4. 2-1-1 San Diego – $45,000 (San Diego County)
2-1-1 Health Navigators will check in with new mothers 6 weeks following the birth of their child asking One Key Question®, educating them about spacing and risks associated with short pregnancy intervals and offering referrals for support services, with the goal of educating and empowering women to make knowledgeable decisions about their family planning and child spacing. (2-1-1 is the county-wide nonprofit resource and information hub that connects people with community, health and disaster services, with partnerships dedicated to serving pregnant and postpartum women and women with children 0-5 years old).
“Birth spacing and preconception health is a key issue in our San Diego communities but one
that hasn’t received the attention it deserves, nor the resources,” said Katherine Selchau, MA,
Director, Local Capacity Strengthening & Collective Impact, California Border Healthy Start PLUS Project. “So many programs and resources are directed towards the health of pregnant women and infants, but not enough towards the health of women before and between pregnancies, which has a huge effect on positive outcomes for both mother and child. With this March of Dimes grant, we have an opportunity to pilot a great framework that is community- based and can set San Diego apart as a leader in strategies that can impact families from the earliest possible opportunity.”

March of Dimes is distributing $139,000 to five recipients in their final year of 2015 – 2017 grant projects, with three-year funding totaling more than $560,000. These community grants are increasing and enhancing prenatal care, improving screening and diagnosis of heart birth defects, as well as, improving interconception health. Programs target diverse, underserved women, including those who are incarcerated, as well as the Latina, Pacific Islander, and African-American communities. The March of Dimes California 2015-2017 grant recipients are:

1. Alameda County Department of Public Health: will strive to reduce preterm birth among Pacific Islanders by increasing early and regular prenatal care as a result of culturally appropriate care coordination in Alameda County.

2. Alameda Health System: will strive to ensure healthy birth outcomes for mothers and newborns by increasing access to prenatal care through offering group prenatal care using the popular CenteringPregnancy® model at Highland Wellness, Alameda Health System’s largest prenatal health clinic.

3. City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services: will strive to decrease depression, increase positive coping skills and increase physical activity among African- American women, with the goal of improving maternal health and birth outcomes.

4. Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital: will strive to improve the prenatal diagnosis rate of complex congenital heart disease (CHD) in the Southern Inland Counties Regional Perinatal Program Region through health care provider trainings.

5. Special Service for Groups, Families & Criminal Justice Division: will strive to improve maternal and newborn health through case management, education and support services for pregnant, jailed women.

About March of Dimes
Each year nearly 4,000,000 babies are born in the United States, and March of Dimes touches each one of them through community programs, advocacy, research, education, and support. March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Premature birth and its complications are now the leading global cause of death for children under 5 years old. Premature birth costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine. For the latest resources and information, visit or for resources in Spanish, Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Educational video resources are available on our YouTube channel.

Elizabeth Williams, Regional Director of Marketing & Communications, West Region– ewilliams [@] or (408) 398-9417


1.) Cofer FG, Fridman M, Lawton E, Korst LM, Nicholas L, Gregory KD. Interpregnancy Interval and childbirth outcomes in California, 2007-2009. Matern Child Health J. November 2016; 20(1):S43-S51.