Our Story: BPUSA was founded in 1988 by Ashoka Fellow Kathryn Hall-Trujillo (affectionately called “Mama Katt”). Mama Katt left her job as state-level public health administrator to help communities have healthier babies – one SisterFriend volunteer and one mom at a time. Born a grassroots volunteer movement to decrease infant and maternal mortality, BPUSA has grown into a volunteer-led global resource center training and supporting local SisterFriends projects and BPUSA student chapters across the United States, and partnering with ayzh and Women’s Worldwide Web to provide safe birth kits to sister communities around the world.
As a public health program advisor with the California State Department of Health Services, Kathryn Hall was well aware of the big picture of health care and its costs when she began The Birthing Project in 1988. At that time, her intent was to ask ten community volunteers to provide one-on-one friendship, education and practical support to ten pregnant teens and women as a way of demonstrating that this was a cost effective way of decreasing infant mortality and morbidity in the African-American community.
All public health professionals use the term “infant mortality” almost on a daily basis. It was not until Ms. Hall held a 10-day old baby boy named DeAndre shortly after his life slipped away, that she internalized the meaning of those words as “counting dead babies.” DeAndre’s short life became the impetus for The Birthing Project to become both a method of improving birth outcomes and a national movement to educate and invite community people to become involved.
Each of the founding mothers of The Birthing Project were paired with a pregnant teen or woman, serving as her friend, elder sister and advocate during her pregnancy and until the child’s first birthday. The founding father provided support to the babies’ fathers.
Since then, over 10,000 babies have been born into over 90 birthing Projects nationally. Although our services target African American women, we welcome pregnant women of all ethnicities who need medical care and social support to optimize their birth outcomes.
"The Underground Railroad for a New Life"
To improve global women’s wellbeing and birth outcomes one SisterFriend, one safe birth kit, one community at a time.
We envision a world in which we have the freedom to define ourselves, birth our babies, and live our healthiest lives.
BPUSA models leveraging community strengths, growing grassroots leaders,and using civic engagement to improve women’s wellbeing and birth outcomes. To date;
Over 13,000 babies have been borth into 110 Birth Project communities in the United States and eight sister countries.
Nearly 15,000 mothers in sister countries have received ayzh safe birth kits.
BPUSA is the only national, grass roots, community based maternal child health organization in the United States started by and for women of color.
The Birthing Project founded the Center for Community Health and Wellbeing in Sacramento, CA, a comprehensive clinic that put women to work providing vital services in their community and generated 92% of its $1.2m budget via fee-for-service (1990-2015).
BPUSA assisted in the development of the first health care system for the Garifuna community (“the forgotten people”) in Honduras, including continuing education, medicine, and supplies to traditional midwives.
I am my sister’s sister
Birthing Project USA inspires, grows and nurtures a culture of SisterFriending™ through education, training, and community and organizational capacity building. BPUSA works with individuals, groups, organizations, colleges, universities, hospitals and health departments to promote SisterFriending™ as a strategy to improve maternal and infant health. SisterFriending™ is a volunteer movement that pairs pregnant moms with SisterFriend volunteers to provide practical and social support through pregnancy, labor and delivery and baby’s first year.