News Release

Grant will support doula coalition in advocacy work

Connecticut Health Foundation awards 24 grants totaling $1.2 million

HARTFORD, Conn. (Jan. 5, 2022) – A grant from the Connecticut Health Foundation will support a coalition of doulas in expanding their advocacy and participation in policy discussions about their workforce and the care they deliver, which has the potential to improve pregnancy and childbirth outcomes for people of color.

The $76,811 grant will support Doulas4CT in its advocacy work to assure that state policies to address maternal health outcomes reflect the input of doulas and are designed to improve equity. The grant will also support advocacy and leadership training to broaden the number of doulas participating in advocacy.

Maternal mortality is one of the most severe health inequities in the United States. In Connecticut, Black women are 2.6 times as likely as white women to die within six weeks of childbirth, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Doulas provide support to pregnant people before, during, and after birth, and help to advocate for their clients throughout the process. Research has found that their services can improve outcomes, including reduced likelihood of birth complications and increased rates of breastfeeding. Doula services are viewed as a key strategy to improving maternal health outcomes and eliminating disparities.

In Connecticut, there are efforts underway to review the scope of practice for doulas and consider a certification process, and to incorporate doulas into Medicaid payments for maternity care. Doulas4CT will participate in these processes and advocate for policies to improve equity and maternal health outcomes.

“As Connecticut continues to identify ways to integrate doulas into the health care system, it is critical that doulas themselves have a voice in shaping these changes,” said Tiffany Donelson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation. “It is imperative that we all work to address the glaring maternal health disparities that exist in our state, and improving access to doula care is one way to do so. Like community health workers, doulas help to serve as a bridge between patients and the clinical care system, and can help to advocate for patients during the birthing process to assure that care is delivered in a way that truly meets the patient’s needs.”

“Doula care improves health outcomes by empowering birthing people to make consequential decisions and providing continuous support before, during, and after labor. Doula support addresses institutional racism and biases inherent in the medical system and narrows the gap on maternal health disparities,” said Cynthia Hayes, a doula and prominent member of Doulas4CT. “Upcoming state policies must be informed by doulas, especially those serving marginalized communities, in order to systematically improve health outcomes.”

This grant was one of 24 awarded by the foundation during the fourth quarter of 2021, totaling $1.2 million. The other grants are:

Health Equity Solutions, Hartford: $300,000
This funding will support Health Equity Solutions in its work to promote policies and discourse to advance equity and dismantle racism. This includes raising awareness about systemic racism and concrete steps to advance health equity, and providing training to health care providers, grassroots advocates, legislators, and members of the public. Health Equity Solutions will also continue work focused on addressing affordability in health care, assuring that equity is embedded into all policymaking, and advocating for sustainable funding for community-based health work. This funding will also support the work of the Commission on Racial Equity in Public Health, which is co-chaired by Health Equity Solutions Executive Director Tekisha Everette.

Greater Hartford Legal Aid, Hartford: $125,000
This funding will support the first year of a two-year health equity advocacy fellowship designed to prepare an emerging leader to understand health equity and advocate for improved outcomes, with a focus on Medicaid. The fellowship will include rotations at advocacy, government, and nonprofit organizations that are involved in promoting health equity and strengthening Medicaid.

SVMC Holdings, Bridgeport: $100,000
This grant will support St. Vincent’s Medical Center in hiring two community health workers to take part in a neighborhood health program to serve Bridgeport residents who are considered medically underserved. Community health workers will assess residents’ social needs – including housing, food, transportation, utilities, and personal safety – and address any needs they identify. They will also advocate on behalf of patients, help patients navigate the health care and social services systems, and provide information about COVID-19 vaccines. This funding is part of a grant initiative by the foundation to respond to COVID-19 by supporting community health workers in several cities throughout the state.

Media grants
The Connecticut Health Foundation provides grants to nonprofit media organizations because news reporting on health care provides insights, informs debates, and ensures that critical topics reach broad audiences. The funding is awarded with an understanding that the journalism will be independent, and the grant will play no role in editorial decisions about health coverage.

Connecticut Health I-Team, New Haven: $100,000 (24 months)
This grant will support C-HIT’s in-depth reporting, including coverage of the long-term health effects of the pandemic on people of color and innovative approaches to delivering care in communities.

Connecticut Public Broadcasting, Hartford: $100,000 (24 months)
This funding will support health reporting at Connecticut Public Radio, with coverage of health policy and issues related to health disparities.

Sanford Cloud Awards
The following grants were awarded as part of The Sanford Cloud Awards for Diverse Advocacy, Policy, and Equity, designed to advance health equity for people of color by investing in initiatives led by graduates of the foundation’s Health Leadership Fellows Program and Academy for Health Equity Advocacy and Leadership. The award is named in honor of Sanford Cloud Jr., the foundation’s former board chair.

Black Health Collective, New London: $10,000
This grant will support the Black Health Collective in working to foster a culture of improved health through community engagement, community-driven interventions and awareness campaigns, and advocacy for increased access to affordable, culturally respectful mental health services for Black residents of Southeastern Connecticut. Although Black residents experience high rates of depression, many do not seek treatment because of stigma, cultural norms, lack of access based on insurance, or a lack of culturally appropriate and responsive providers.

Connecticut Association for Community Action, Middletown: $10,000
The Connecticut Association for Community Action represents community action agencies, which serve more than 200,000 people statewide. Research indicates that Black and Hispanic and Latinx adults are more likely than white adults to report experiencing unfair treatment because of their race or ethnicity when applying for benefits. This funding will support the association in providing Racial Healing Circle sessions to agency staff to help them identify implicit biases and understand structural racism, and to use this awareness to better meet the needs of every person they serve. This work is also intended to help staff members build skills to promote racial and health equity within their organizations and communities.

Discretionary grants
President’s discretionary grants are awarded to organizations and institutions that respond to the foundation’s overall mission or priority areas.

Access Health CT, Hartford: $25,000
This funding will support the first phase of establishing a broker academy intended to increase the number of trusted, local, culturally competent insurance brokers in Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport. In the first phase of this work, Access Health CT will focus on outreach to community-based organizations to identify potential candidates for the academy, recruiting students for the broker academy, and recruiting broker agencies to serve as mentors for the students.

Connecticut Citizens Research Group, Hartford: $25,000
This grant will support the Medicaid Strategy group in its work to raise awareness of health care affordability concerns, safeguard Medicaid coverage as the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ends, and develop an advocacy plan and campaign for 2022 based in data and input from stakeholders.

Connecticut Council for Philanthropy, Hartford: $7,000
This grant supports the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy in offering a training by the Racial Equity Institute in the “Groundwater Approach,” which emphasizes the ways systems and structures contribute to racial inequity.

Connecticut Health Policy Project, Hamden: $25,000
This funding will support the Connecticut Health Policy Project’s work on its CT Health Policy Toolbox to expand health policy capacity and understanding among state residents by allowing readers to quickly learn about health care issues in as much detail as they like. It will cover topics including Medicaid, health equity, insurance, health finance, social determinants of health, and the impact of COVID-19.

Connecticut Office of Health Strategy, Hartford: $25,000
This funding will support technical assistance to provide guidance on the financial structure and investment strategy for establishing a health equity trust that would be designed to redress health inequities.

Connecticut Psychological Association Educational Foundation, North Haven: $4,800
This grant will support the organization in growing participation in its free, monthly Social Justice Speaker Series, which is designed to build awareness among behavioral health clinicians on topics including disparities, power differentials, racism, advocacy, and allyship.

Greater Bridgeport Area Prevention Program, Bridgeport: $25,000
This funding will support the Greater Bridgeport Area Prevention Program in establishing the Sankofa Resiliency Training Institute. The institute will build on the organization’s existing Black Men and Trauma program, and will offer training on topics including historical trauma and its link to poor health outcomes; racial trauma and Black men; and peer-to-peer leadership. The training institute is designed to build leaders who can bring Black men’s often-underrepresented perspectives to discussions of racial trauma and healing in settings including town halls, community-based organizations, and legislative discussions.\

Interruptions: Disrupting the Silence, New Haven: $10,000
This project aims to address barriers to psychotherapy and the longstanding mistrust of behavioral health care within communities of color, using Let’s Talk, a program that facilitates conversations on trauma, grief, and healing. This funding will support training for faith leaders, nonprofit staff, community leaders, and others on the Let’s Talk model, and the development and evaluation of training materials.

Laurel House, Stamford: $25,000
This funding will support Laurel House’s effort to improve access to mental health care for people of color in Connecticut through outreach as well as developing additional content for the website

Record-Journal, Meriden: $25,000
This funding will support the Record-Journal in hiring a health equity reporter who will take a solutions-oriented approach to reporting on health disparities affecting Black and Latino residents. The reporter’s work will be distributed in English and Spanish to other publications and through a local Latino stakeholder network.

Trusted messenger grants
Information is critical in a public health crisis and often, the messenger is as important as the message itself. Messages are far more effective when they are delivered by trusted sources, and the foundation has awarded grants to trusted messenger organizations since 2020. Most recently, the foundation awarded the following trusted messenger grants:

  • Community Action Agency of New Haven, New Haven: $15,000
  • Cross Street Training and Academic Center, Middletown: $15,000
  • Grace Baptist Church, Waterbury: $15,000
  • Greater Bridgeport Area Prevention Program, Bridgeport: $15,000
  • Project Access of New Haven, New Haven: $15,000
  • The Legacy Foundation of Hartford, Hartford: $15,000

For more information, please contact Arielle Levin Becker at or 860-724-1580 x 16.