March of Dimes Announces Nearly $750,000 in Grants to Improve Mom and Baby Health in California

Funding Dedicated to Improving Mom and Baby Health in California by Addressing Health Inequities

San Francisco, California | Wednesday, February 18, 2015

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With the goal of addressing health inequities and reducing the occurrence of birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality, the March of Dimes California Chapter today announced the six recipients of their multi-year community grants program. More than $250,000 will be distributed in the first year of this program, with the remainder of funds contingent upon demonstrated programmatic successes each year through 2018.

“We know we can make an immediate 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 March of Dimes California Chapter State Director Karyn DeMartini. “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 takes time. Our community programs can generate results quickly which we can then share state-wide and nationally, significantly increasing the impact.”

Six grantees were selected from more than 40 concept papers by the March of Dimes State Program Services Committee which is made up of leading medical and public health professionals representing different regions in California.  The projects are receiving funds in order to increase and enhance prenatal care, to provide pre- and interconception efforts, as well as improve screening and diagnosis of heart birth defects. Programs target diverse, underserved women, including those who are incarcerated, as well as the Latina, Pacific Islander, and African-American communities.

“These March of Dimes grants are investments that launch innovative new programs and expand existing high-impact programs,” said March of Dimes State Program Services Committee Chair Dr. James Byrne, who is the Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and clinical professor at Stanford School of Medicine. “Many initiatives would not move forward without this funding. Community Grant recipients provide great beta tests and lay the groundwork to scale future efforts to benefit women and families."

“We are thrilled to receive the grant funding from the March of Dimes,” said Dr. Donna Goff, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Cardiology at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.  According to Dr. Goff, “The funds will help us change the way we provide care for our moms and babies in this area. The prenatal detection rate of CHD (Congenital Heart Defects) is 25% in the Inland Empire compared to 50% nationally which ultimately leads to worse outcomes and delayed treatment for these babies. Dramatically improving the CHD diagnosis rate will depend upon us partnering with community physicians in a way that was previously unprecedented.” 

The 2015 March of Dimes California Chapter 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. Initially, the project will focus on Highland Wellness, Alameda Health System's largest prenatal health clinic. The goal is for Centering to become the standard of prenatal care throughout the Health System, with groups being expanded to its three free-standing clinics in years 2 and 3.

3.      California Hospital Medical Center/LA Best Babies Network: this project will strive to expand the Perinatal Health Collaborative of Los Angeles to increase access to and enhance the quality of medical and social care for underserved pregnant and interconception mothers living in disparate communities in LA County.

4.      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.

5.      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.

6.      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.

March of Dimes has a strong track record of achievements. Some successes include: the development of the polio vaccine which nearly eradicated the polio epidemic worldwide, saving untold lives; and surfactant therapy, which has significantly increased the survival rate of preterm babies who frequently suffer from respiratory distress. March of Dimes also was successful advocating for the folic acid fortification of grains products which has led to a significant decrease in neural tube birth defects since its implementation.

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 research, education, support, and advocacy. March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, 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. A wealth of educational video resources are available on our YouTube channel.

About March of Dimes California

In 2014 the March of Dimes funded $8 million to California research institutions and $4 million to the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford University, the first of five national trans-disciplinary research centers. In 2015 more than $300,000 in community service grant funds will be given to local California organizations in support of the March of Dimes mission. Fundraising special events held in California, such as: the annual March for Babies® walks (celebrating 45 years in 2015); Signature Chefs Auction foodie events; and, the March of Dimes Celebration of Babies® event; raise millions of dollars to fund research, advocacy, community programs, education, and support for moms, babies and families in our communities. Our legislative advocacy efforts in 2014 resulted in 10 new bills being passed with a focus on helping all babies have a healthy start in life.  California is one of only five states to receive an ‘A’ grade on the Preterm Birth Report Card, hitting a 24-year low in the rate of premature birth. Still, there is more work to be done, as one in eleven babies are born too soon in California.   Follow our California efforts on Facebook and Twitter.

About March of Dimes

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every baby can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we empower every mom and every family.

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