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two photos side by side of birthFUND co-founders Elaine Welteroth and Serena Williams dressed in glamorous outfits at separate red carpet events

Elaine Welteroth & Serena Williams’ ‘birthFUND’ Aims to Transform Maternal Health

Journalist and TV host Elaine Welteroth has teamed up with tennis legend and entrepreneur Serena Williams to launch birthFUND – a program aiming to provide midwifery care to families across the US who can’t afford it.

Announcing the news on Instagram during Black Maternal Health Week, Elaine, who is a mother to a 2-year-old son, explained:

“America is in a birth care crisis. And we’re done waiting for someone else to fix what’s broken. It’s on us to save us. We are ready to take action now.”

She continued, “It all started with a little Instagram fundraiser for my birthday that raised enough money to cover the cost of birth care for not one but two families in just 16 hours. Then I called on some friends, corporate partners and beloved birth workers who formed a powerful founding funding circle. We are creating a safety net of resources for families across the country to expand immediate access to quality, life-saving maternal health care.”

While Serena serves as a co-founder, other big names supporting the fund include musicians John Legend and Kelly Rowland as well as models Karlie Kloss and Ashley Graham.

In an op-ed for TIME in 2023, Elaine, shared her deep concerns about the high maternal death rates in America (according to the World Health Organisation, they’re the highest in the world), and how Black mothers are disproportionately impacted.

“Here’s the part I can’t live with: According to the CDC 84% of these deaths are preventable. When you hear statistics like that, you feel either hopeless or motivated to help change them.”

 

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It’s a cause close to Serena’s heart too – she experienced major complications during the birth of her eldest child, Olympia, and had to undergo multiple surgeries in the aftermath. In a more recent op-ed for TIME, she writes:

“Having babies in America was a wake-up call for both of us. We have both accomplished a lot in our lives and careers, needless to say, we can do hard things. But nothing made us feel as disempowered as being pregnant and Black in America, left to rely upon a medical system that is statistically failing people who look like us.”

So how does birthFUND work exactly?

According to their website, the fund helps remove the financial barriers that stop women from accessing the health care they need by matching them with individual funders.

“Insurance, healthcare and legislators aren’t changing fast enough to save the lives of mothers and birthing parents so we’re stepping in to create change ourselves,” their mission statement reads.

“We believe in a world in which every birthing person has access to safe, affirming and joyful birthing care.”

(Feature Images Credit: Elaine Welteroth photo by Monica Schipper/FilmMagic via Getty Images; Serena Williams photo by Steve Granitz/FilmMagic via Getty Images)

Nehal is an award-winning news presenter, author of "A Kids Book About Kindness Online" and founder of CelebrityKind. She has dedicated her career to creating connected and healthy spaces in the media. When she's not writing, you'll find Nehal hanging with family, dancing to Beyoncé, interpreting Taylor Swift lyrics or watching old eps of Oprah.