Birth Workers of Color Scholarship – Phase One

Reflections on racism and oppression in midwifery


Matching scholars to scholarships to reduce disparities in birth outcomes

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Birth,

Last week, we posted an Open Letter to remind us all of “A Scholarship Solution and Grand Challenge” issued by Vicki Penwell of Mercy in Action for midwifery schools and programs to provide more scholarships to students of colors.

We birth workers know that racial and class disparities are killing our babies and harming our mothers; we know that part of the solution lies in quality midwifery and birth services care and we firmly believe in ‘a midwife for every pregnant person who wants one’, “a birth worker for every pregnant person who wants one”. We must come together to increase the numbers of students and practitioners of colors in all of the professions that can have a direct positive impact on the maternal and infant outcomes in this country. This includes doulas, childbirth educators, and breastfeeding educators and consultants. This Grand Challenge is for all!

The web site,, has been launched and the sign-up sections for mentors, preceptors and programs are open!

This website will serve as the Clearinghouse and Resource Center for schools, programs and trainings for birth workers, focusing on those that offer scholarships for students of colors. Most of us do not know all of the schools, programs and trainings that exist, far less how many of these currently have such scholarships. So we are going to build that database, and then we are going to make it grow. We need your help!

We can have a great impact on increasing the number of scholarships for students of colors to attend schools, programs and trainings for birth workers. It calls upon all of us (students, birth workers, parents, midwives, school and program officials, reproductive justice activists, and folks who believe in what is right), working in a concerted, cohesive order together in teams to accomplish this. We will need five small teams for this first phase of the project.

Phase One – Building the Clearinghouse and Resource Center

We are completing “The Open Letter” to be emailed to all midwifery, doula, childbirth educator and breastfeeding counselor/ consultant/educator training programs. The letter will ask if the program has already designated a scholarship for students of colors (or a similar designation) and, if so, what are the parameters of the scholarship. If they do not already have such a scholarship, the letter will invite them to join The Grand Challenge.

Vicki has selected Jeanette McCulloch to manage and update The Grand Challenge web site. Jeanette has developed a master spreadsheet that will contain all of the information collected via web site and team member input. She will populate this master spreadsheet so that all of the data is consistent and add the information to the web site.

This is where we need your help. We are assembling five teams to collect information about every existing program that can be found on the internet that trains U.S. students in the birth worker professions. The first four teams will collect, using the spread sheet provided by Jeanette, the following information:

    • Name, address, phone number, web site, contact person, email address of the school, program or clinical site;
    • Name and contact information for the person in charge of financial aid or admission; and
    • If there is a scholarship listed on the web site for students of colors, briefly list key features of the scholarship

This information, and any other pertinent information will be submitted by team members, to Jeanette who will enter it into the master spread sheet for updating the web site.

The teams will be organized as follows:

Team #1 Midwifery Schools and Programs and Overseas Clinical Programs

Team #2 Doula Training Schools and Programs

Team #3 Childbirth Education Programs

Team #4 Breastfeeding Counselor/Consultant/Educator Programs

Those schools, programs, and trainings that have already established scholarships for students of colors will have their names added to The Grand Challenge web site. In addition, a badge, “We Support The Grand Challenge” will be made available for supporters to place on their web sites.

Team #5 The Open Letter Email:

Once this information is compiled and entered into the master spreadsheet, then this team will email The Open Letter to those schools, programs, and trainings that have not yet signed up for The Grand Challenge. The letter has instructions for completing The Grand Challenge form online. This letter will not be modified in any way – a consistent, clear message is our goal.

For the schools and programs who have submitted the form online, a follow-up telephone call will be made to get additional information such as: the required book and supplies list for students in the programs, and information on faculty of colors.

I am hoping that once again you will join us in accepting Vicki’s call to action and sign up for one of the teams. Please contact me by email at: if you want to sign up for a team.

Who wants to be a Team Captain??? What students from which school or program want to take on a Team project? Since the first four teams (Midwifery, Doula, Childbirth, Breastfeeding Teams) are charged with compiling information mostly from the internet, I anticipate they could complete their tasks in less than 2 weeks.

Please let’s do The Work!

Claudia Booker, Midwife

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s