On June 29, 2013, the Greater Racine Collaborative for Healthy Birth Outcomes (GRC4HBO) held its first Baby Expo at the George Bray Neighborhood Center. Over 90 families were able to connect with 19 organizations and agencies that provide resources and support for families. Kimberly Seals Allers, nationally known advocate for positive African American birth outcomes and breastfeeding, was in attendance and provided items such as a Medela© electric breast pump and a Boppy® Pillow for giveaways.
This great event, which was front page news in the Journal Times and improved access for individuals who were at a high risk for infant mortality and preterm birth, was a result of over five years of hard work and dedication.
The Greater Racine Collaborative for Healthy Birth Outcomes (GRC4HBO), an initiative of the Racine Kenosha Community Action Agency (RKCAA), formed in 2007 as a response to a public health crisis in Racine, Wis. In 2007, African American babies were three times as likely to not live to see their first birthday. For every 1,000 live births, 23 African American babies didn’t make it to the age of one. This statistic prompted community residents, local and state government, and healthcare systems to come together. The overall goals of GRC4HBO are to reduce the African American infant mortality, reduce the rate of African American babies born before 37 weeks, and reduce the rate of African American babies born weighing less than 5.5 lbs.
GRC4HBO required commitment through sharing resources, information and breaking down silos to work together in a true partnership. Thanks to major partnerships with the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread and the University of Wisconsin-Madision, School of Medicine and Public Health, Wisconsin Partnership Program, the collaborative created a Community Action Plan in 2011. This plan serves as the blueprint for our work in improving healthcare access for African American women, strengthening the African American community and families, and addressing social and economic inequities.
Since 2007, the GRC4HBO accomplished the following:
- Working with Representative Cory Mason, advocated for the Racine Healthy Babies appropriation in 2007 Wisconsin Act 20, Section 9121 6d.
- Hired dedicated project staff.
- Served as convener for four projects that directly align with the goals of the collaborative: Racine Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (LIHF), Personal Responsibility Education Program, Racine County Home Visitation Network, and the Healthy Babies Community Outreach Program.
- Held three major public events.
- Leveraged over $1,000,000 in funds to support all projects and 4 LIHF projects.
GRC4HBO continues to set its sights on improving access and systems that support African American families. Currently, the collaborative is engaged in educating the community about the child support and family court systems, and gathering basic information on the capacity to implement a city-wide breastfeeding initiative in the African American community.
GRC4HBO is a true example of what can happen when community agencies, community residents, healthcare systems and local government decide to actively work together and take different paths in the same direction.
I welcome your comments at email@example.com.
Chief Executive Officer
Racine Kenosha Community Action Agency