Helping moms and babies across the country

Working with our partners, the March of Dimes strives to develop and implement local programs that will ultimately improve the health of babies. Through our network of chapters and volunteers, these programs reach over a million people across the country and Puerto Rico each year. We provide information and services designed to prevent premature birth and birth defects and to promote healthy pregnancies.

Community grants are awarded annually to fund the best programs. Local programs like Centering Pregnancy®, group prenatal care, are focused on improving the availability and quality of health care. We also support services that help promote the health and well-being of women and couples before pregnancy to increase their chances of having a healthy baby. Other programs educate doctors and nurses about reducing the rates of elective labor inductions and c-sections before the 39th week of pregnancy.

Through NICU Family Support®, we provide information and comfort to families coping with the experience of having a baby in a newborn intensive care unit (NICU). NICU Family Support complements and enhances family-centered care practices in partner hospitals, addresses the needs of families and provides professional development to NICU staff.

Most common questions

How can my organization apply for local March of Dimes funding?

Contact your local March of Dimes chapter to ask for a Request for Proposal (RFP). In 2009, chapters awarded a total of $6 million in community grants to support projects that address local perinatal needs. Proposals or Letters of Intent are usually due to the chapter in the late summer.

What March of Dimes events are happening near me?

The March of Dimes has been conducting special events for more than 60 years. These activities - formal balls, signature chef auctions and dinners, motorcycle rides, golf tournaments and March for Babies - help the March of Dimes fund cutting-edge research and innovative programs to save babies. In 2007, more than $145 million was raised through hundreds of events held in communities across the country. With a wide variety to choose from, there is something for everyone! Contact your local chapter for a March of Dimes Special Event near you!

What programs does my local March of Dimes fund?

March of Dimes chapters support local projects aimed at helping women have healthier pregnancies. Funding from community grants enhances the availability and quality of health care and prevention services for women and their babies. For a list of specific programs funded in your state, please contact your local March of Dimes chapter.

Baby and Me: Tobacco Free

Oregon chapter

"Baby & Me: Tobacco Free" is an incentive-based program utilizing the 5'As counseling approach to assist pregnant women in quitting smoking and to help them stay tobacco-free after the birth of their baby. The population served was economically disadvantaged smoking women receiving prenatal and postpartum services through Douglas County Public Health Programs (Prenatal Clinic Care, Family Planning, Maternity Case Management, Babies First, Healthy Start, WIC).

This program involved:

  • Conducting 5'As cessation counseling training for participating public health program staff and local health care providers.
  • Enrolling and collecting baseline data on participants.
  • Providing four or more prenatal cessation counseling sessions for each participant. Participants who test smoke-free at each session receive a $10 gift certificate and are entered into a drawing for a Baby Me gift basket.
  • Using carbon monoxide (CO) testing to determine smoke free status during pregnancy and after delivery.
  • Conducting monthly visits with participants for 6 months following delivery to monitor smoking status, providing support and incentives. Participants who remain smoke-free after the birth of their babies receive a $20 diaper voucher each month for up to 6 months postpartum.
  • Compiling class attendance records, number of vouchers issued/redeemed, quit status during pregnancy and at 3 and 6 months postpartum.

The results included:

  • Nineteen professional staff were trained on the 5'As method.
  • Fifty-three women received services.
  • Seventy-nine percent were smoke-free during pregnancy.
  • One-hundred percent of the women who delivered during the term of the project were smoke-free at the time of delivery.
  • Fifty percent of the women who were smoke-free during pregnancy remained smoke free during the postpartum period.
  • Upon request by program participants, carbon monoxide testing was also provided for husbands/partners of the pregnant women receiving services.
  • Parents of pregnant teens agreed to quit smoking to support their daughters' quit attempt.

Lessons learned:

  • Recruitment of participants was surprisingly difficult. To address this issue, a program flyer was developed and marketing was broadened. Enrollment increased as a result.
  • Increased cost of tobacco products is an incentive to quitting. Having participants determine the amount of money they spend on tobacco products each month is a good exercise.

Centering Pregnancy

To address racial disparities in birth outcomes in New Jersey, the chapter funded the introduction of CenteringPregnancy ( to local health care providers and as well as the establishment and on-going support of this model of group prenatal care at several local sites. The women who benefited from this program are pregnant African American women who get their prenatal care at Family Health Centers and clinics.

This program involved:

  • Holding a showcase of program best practices which included CenteringPregnancy®.
  • Establishing programs at Newark Community Health Center (NCHC), the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ and JFK Family Health Center.

The results included:

  • One site reporting that only one of the 28 women completing the program had a preterm birth.
  • Sixty-six percent of the participants liked receiving their prenatal care in the group.
  • Eighty percent felt that they learned a lot about prenatal care in the group.
  • Eighty percent enjoyed being with other women in the group care.
  • Sixty-six percent felt well prepared for labor and delivery.
  • Eighty-seven percent felt prepared for caring for a new baby.
  • NJ Department of Health and Senior Services, after co-chairing the Social Equity in Birth Outcomes Initiative with the March of Dimes, decided to reprioritize its maternal child health grants to require evidence based programs that reduced racial disparities in birth outcomes.
  • NCHC applied to the state for a Department of Health grant to improve access to prenatal care. NCHC received $300,000 grant to provide prenatal care at two prenatal clinics in the city of Newark that are at the sites of newly closed hospitals. Centering will be implemented at both sites.
  • The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s OB/GYN clinic will provide access to CenteringPregnancy® for over 2,000 pregnant women at five clinics in Essex County. Essex County has the highest preterm birth rate (14.8 percent) in the state.

Comenzando Bien

Texas chapter

Comenzando bien® is a prenatal curriculum designed for pregnant women to learn about having a healthy pregnancy in a supportive group setting. It also provides culturally relevant social support/prenatal education for pregnant Hispanic women and demonstrates improved birth outcomes/behavior change. The curriculum is available in both English and Spanish.

This program involves:

  • Revising the Comenzando bien evaluation tools to be user-friendly and to measure desired variables;
  • Creating a statewide database to track information on sites and facilitators;
  • Training facilitators at 32 sites participating in the initiative;
  • Enrolling 3,600 women in the Comenzando bien 6-session series of classes and graduation;
  • Collecting pre/post tests and follow-up postcards from participants. The pre/post tests measured knowledge change and satisfaction. The follow-up postcard measured birth outcomes and behavior changes.

The results included:

  • A total of 2,248 pre-tests, 2,036 post-tests and 922 follow-up postcards were collected.
  • Of the participants reporting birth outcomes, 98.1 percent delivered a full-term baby.
  • Nearly all participants (99.4 percent) reported that Comenzando bien provided them with social support.
  • One-hundred percent of participants reported that they changed their eating or exercise habits because of what they learned in the Comenzando bien classes.
  • On the pre-test, only 10.6 percent of participants stated that babies should always be put to sleep on their backs. However, on the follow-up postcards, 97 percent of participants reported that they put their baby to sleep on its back.
  • One-hundred-sixteen participants reported that they stopped smoking because of what they learned in the Comenzando bien classes.
  • Culturally relevant prenatal education can improve birth outcomes, enhance participants’ social support and create behavior change. Participants gain social support and become mentors to each other.
  • Graduate participants who become mentors create a vested interest in each woman’s well-being.
  • Evaluation tools used through this project are being tested in Kansas (link) and California (link) chapters in 2010 so that results can be compared among three different states.

Lessons learned:

  • Host quarterly workshops for all facilitators in order to maintain continuity of education, share ideas and resources, and ensure evaluation protocols are followed.
  • Use incentives to encourage each Comenzando bien site to utilize all evaluation tools and to increase program participation.

Mission: Healthy Baby

Pregnancy has its ups and downs for every woman. But high levels of stress can be a very real problem for moms-to-be who serve in the military or have a partner who does. Stress is associated with many health complications and may lead to premature birth or low birthweight in full-term babies. Mission: Healthy Baby® can help.

Mission: Healthy Baby, a partnership of the March of Dimes and the VFW, offers military families information and education on topics ranging from relieving stress to learning how to stay healthy during pregnancy to understanding the costs involved with having a new baby.

The program also treats military moms to the baby shower they might not otherwise have, offers dads ways to get involved and provides comfort to families with a baby in newborn intensive care. These services help make pregnancy and the birth of a new baby a positive and joyful experience for our military families.

FINAL: 5/31/11

The Coming of the Blessing

A March of Dimes initiative called The Coming of the Blessing is addressing high rates of infant death and premature birth among American Indian and Alaska Native babies. The initiative was created by the March of Dimes American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Women’s Committee. This group of women, representing 10 different tribes, developed health education resources that embrace the cultural and spiritual beliefs related to pregnancy and childbirth shared by many Native people. By emphasizing the strong family and community bonds; the deep and profound respect for nature, life, ancestors, women and children; we can help babies have a fighting chance.

Women from more than 30 tribes, Nations and pueblos have benefited from The Coming of the Blessing. According to a survey of women who participated, 90 percent changed a behavior to be healthier during pregnancy. Mothers made specific changes related to nutrition, stress reduction and the decision to breast feed. Although American Indian and Alaska Native mothers have the highest rate of inadequate prenatal care (23.8 percent) of all racial/ethnic groups, 88 percent of the moms who received prenatal education through The Coming of the Blessing kept all of their prenatal appointments. The preterm birth rate among American Indians and Alaska Natives is more than 14 percent. For women participating in The Coming of the Blessing, the rate was reduced to 7 percent. As a result of these findings, the program is designated as a “promising practice” by Indian Health Service.

©2013 March of Dimes Foundation. The March of Dimes is a non-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).