Celebrating Mary Black Foundation’s History
Mary Black Foundation Becomes a Private Foundation
2021 marks the 25th anniversary of the Mary Black Foundation’s role as a private foundation in Spartanburg. However, the Mary Black Foundation has a legacy that extends beyond the last 25 years. In fact, the Foundation was originally formed in 1986 – 35 years ago – to support the Mary Black Memorial Hospital and related community programs.
The sale of the nonprofit hospital to a for profit company, in 1996, led to the reconfiguration of the Mary Black Foundation and its significant growth in assets. In the 25 years since the Mary Black Foundation separated from the hospital, it has provided over $62 million in grants to support health and wellness initiatives throughout Spartanburg County. During this same time, the assets have grown to over $75 million.
Early Childhood Development
Mary Black Foundation believes that children who are born healthy, grow up in stable families, have nurturing relationships with adults, and spend time in environments that provide stimulating experiences are more likely to succeed academically, socially, and economically.
Early childhood development is defined by the Foundation as the process of growth that occurs prenatally through the first five years of life. Improving the health and wellness of Spartanburg County through a focus on early childhood development will require efforts that address:
- Children’s relationships with families and other caregivers
- Children’s physical, emotional, social, and cognitive development
- Adolescent pregnancy and improving birth outcomes
BirthMatters is a quintessential early childhood development partner. They are a nonprofit organization that seeks to reduce teen pregnancy through reproductive health education. They provide doula support services to expectant mothers 24 years old and younger in Spartanburg County.
Awards from Mary Black Foundation include:
- $323,600 for doula services
- $590,368 from 2016-2020 for teen pregnancy prevention evidence-based intervention programming
- $669,176 from 2017-2021 as part of Mary Black Foundation’s ‘key partner’ funding; capacity building and general operating support
Doula Care Services
BirthMatters provides community doula services to young (24 years old and younger) expectant mothers at no charge to them.
Their goal is to reduce teen pregnancy and improve health outcomes for adolescents and children through reproductive health education and by empowering expectant young adults to raise healthy families. Trained doulas provide educational and emotional support to each family with home visits and birth support.
Data continually shows that there are negative maternal health inequities for low income women and women of color in Spartanburg County. BirthMatters knows that through their community doula program, they can help to lessen some of these disparities and improve maternal health and birth outcomes.
Doula services for low income young mothers include free education, emotional support, and prenatal empowerment, through their birth, and for a year postpartum. The results of their program speak for themselves. Mothers in their program have higher rates of breastfeeding and lower cesarean rates. The babies born in their program have less NICU admittance and lower rates of low birth weight.
BirthMatters preventative sexual health model is called iMatter. This model offers teen-friendly health services in group, one-on-one, or virtual settings.
One of the one-on-one strategies iMatter utilizes is a community health worker. Chelle Jones was hired in 2013 to provide individual and group based evidence-based programming. Chelle works with Spartanburg’s adolescents to educate and increase awareness of the importance of preventing unplanned pregnancies. She is a transformational leader who is transforming the community and those she serves. In her role as a community health worker, Chelle’s goal is to provide youth and organizations with the education and awareness needed to improve sexual health outcomes, but more importantly, to connect youth to the resources and services they need to survive and thrive.
Molly Chappell-McPhail, Director of Advocacy and Expansion with BirthMatters, said:
I can remember the excitement Carrie Wise and I had in 2007 when we received the planning grant from MBF. It was the start of the doula program and we did not even have a name. We so enjoyed the organic process MBF allowed us to have in planning for BirthMatters. They have been with us from day one!
Amber Pendergraph-Leak, Executive Director of BirthMatters, said:
As the new Executive Director, now more than ever, I appreciate the respectful relationship I have with the staff at MBF. Explaining to our families that we offer these powerful doula services at no charge to them AND funders invest in them to be the best version of themselves is an authentic process we like to explain to our families. Thanks so much for believing in us!