2021 marked the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the second decade of Every Mother Counts, and a critical crossroads for us to step back and focus on the long-term vision we share for mothers and birthing people everywhere.
Since our founding, we have continuously worked towards a world where everyone has the option to choose the maternity care that’s right for them in a place where they feel safe and respected; a world where one's race, culture, or ethnicity does not affect their birth options or experience. These are fundamental human rights, critical goals for all people to adopt and fight for.
It will take all of us to transform maternity care to improve birth outcomes for all. Together with you, our community-based partners, policy advocates, and compassionate maternal healthcare providers around the world, we are coming together to create sustainable change — using our voices and advocating alongside those who have been historically marginalized. If we work together, we can impact future generations.
Despite 2021's challenges, we believe – with you working alongside us – that progress is possible.
Following an unprecedented and impact-filled first year of a global pandemic in 2020, Every Mother Counts continued to expand its reach to achieve long-term results globally in 2021. Since the pandemic hit, through the examples of our grantee partners, we have learned invaluable lessons about resilience and how to innovate in the face of adversity.
As we entered this next phase of our work in 2021, we came together as a team to find our “new normal” rhythm.
And we reaffirmed what we’ve always known: we are in this fight for access to safe, equitable, and respectful maternity care for all for the long haul. We will go the distance for our partners and for the mothers, families, and communities they serve.
Amidst the uncertainty of another pandemic year, we asked ourselves: “What solutions will not only address health disparities now... but also well beyond COVID-19?”
We asked ourselves: “What could transform maternity care forever?”
We didn’t have to look far for the answer.
First, we identified a few initiatives beyond our growing grants portfolio in the U.S., such as JustBirth Space, that inspired us with potential for scalable solutions that center mothers and birthing people. Then, we launched an innovative new birth equity education pilot curriculum project co-designed with University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine faculty and students. Using our Giving Birth in America film series, the curriculum seeks to educate residents and physicians about the disproportionate impact of implicit bias and medical racism on people of color.
We quickly realized that these examples had the power to demonstrate what is possible, if only we expand our methods.
Some of them were new seeds that needed planting, and others were already starting to sprout:
As we continued to invest in these new seedlings, an entirely new fourth pillar of work emerged to nurture these ideas and help them grow. Dubbed ‘Transformative Initiatives’ these projects not only complement the other pillars Every Mother Counts has long fostered, they also exemplify how models of care can impact birth experiences and positively influence systems change for all.
Transformative initiatives complement our compelling storytelling, trust-based partnerships with community leaders, advocacy opportunities, and culturally relevant educational resources that we’ve been building over the last decade. With these strategies, we know we can achieve our mission.
Together, we can make pregnancy and childbirth safe, respectful, and equitable for all.
Thank you for being part of this growth.
Christy Turlington Burns
Founder, Every Mother Counts
Since our founding in 2010, we have impacted more than one million lives. And we are just getting started.
received skilled reproductive and maternal health care and support.
using our easy-to-access templates in support of critical legislation, including the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act and the Build Back Better Act’s maternity care policies.
which educate the public and spread critical knowledge about the maternal health crisis in the U.S. and around the world.
JustBirth Space, a free perinatal support platform launched in 2020,
with responsive and compassionate support.
which is now required for all medical students, created in partnership with University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine
Our community-led approach keeps decision-making firmly with the groups and individuals who are navigating the challenges of pregnancy and postpartum today.
This work is a lifelong journey, but, together with the EMC community, strides are made every year — step-by-step and day-by-day. Here are a few snapshots from this past year:
Graduates join the ranks of new midwives serving pregnant people and mothers. Photo by Midwives for Haiti.
The benefits of midwifery-led care worldwide cannot be overstated. Universal coverage of midwives has the potential to avert 67% of maternal deaths, 64% of neonatal deaths, and 65% of stillbirths, saving up to 4.3 million lives per year by 2035.
In 2021, strides were made in our support of midwifery. From refugee camps and surrounding communities in Bangladesh...to the central plateau of Haiti...to the mountains of Guatemala, Every Mother Counts continues to invest in midwifery education in communities that need it most.
This year alone, The HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh, EMC’s grantee since 2016, graduated their 5th class of 30 midwives. Corazón del Agua in Guatemala graduated their 3rd class of 8 midwives. And Midwives for Haiti, which has now trained 33% of Haiti’s entire skilled maternity care workforce, graduated their 11th class of 20 midwives!
These newly minted midwives are growing, strengthening, and diversifying the maternal health workforce in each country, delivering culturally concordant care to pregnant people and mothers who may not have had access previously.
Maternal health advocacy can take many forms. It can involve contacting elected officials, educating your community, hosting a town hall, or even sharing your own personal story. With so many ways to make change, deciding where to begin can feel overwhelming. And yet, advancing our collective mission will take us all.
That’s why in October 2021, EMC released our Advocacy Toolkit, an interactive and easy-to-use guide that supports everyone in building their own unique maternal health advocacy approach.
This action-oriented guide builds on Every Mother Counts’ longstanding work in maternal health advocacy to encourage everyone to take action to advance maternal health and birth equity in a way that taps into their own strengths and passions. The Advocacy Toolkit works to demystify advocacy by breaking down the who-what-where-when-why-how of advocacy, providing actionable tools to help guide everyone towards making change.
Jennie Joseph and a midwifery student check in on a pregnant person at Commonsense Childbirth.
As part of EMC’s efforts to shine a spotlight on CCSM, actress and advocate Lesley-Ann Brandt joins Jennie Joseph for an IG Live, reaching millions.
In the United States, Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy and childbirth related causes than white women. And yet, until recently, there had not been a single Black-led and founded accredited midwifery training school in the entire country. Not even one.
To address this gap, long-time EMC partner Jennie Joseph made it her mission to open Commonsense Childbirth School of Midwifery (CCSM), the first Black-led and founded accredited midwifery training school in the U.S. The first and only.
In May 2021, the first class in Jennie’s school began their studies. In support of this landmark achievement, EMC rallied our community to celebrate and support Jennie’s school. We campaigned and raised funds to offer full scholarships for several students. EMC also helped generate media attention for the school by arranging for Jennie Joseph to partner with EMC supporter, actor, and advocate Lesley-Ann Brandt to broadcast a conversation on the importance of Jennie’s work to millions of new followers.
With prolonged school closures due to COVID-19, family caregiving responsibilities continued to fall disproportionately on mothers, forcing many to leave their jobs, take time off – sometimes without pay – or endure high levels of stress managing both work and caregiving responsibilities. Ultimately, just one year into the pandemic, approximately 1.8 million women had left the workforce in the United States, and overall women’s workforce participation reached historic lows.
In this pressing situation, and as part of our core work supporting mothers where and how they need it most, we launched a few new virtual engagement campaigns in the first half of 2021 designed to center mothers’ and pregnant peoples’ mental and physical health and wellness during a time when coming together in-person wasn’t yet an option. These new projects welcomed people of all ages and genders, utilizing our unique networks to transform a heartbreaking year into an opportunity for shared hope, mutual care, and perseverance.
In recognition of the unique challenges mothers and caregivers were facing, it was more important than ever to make sure everyone knew they were loved and supported – even from a distance. As a first step to fostering this nurturing environment, we launched a new digital platform called “Hang in There Mama,” which allowed anyone to publish a message of encouragement to struggling mothers and pregnant people.
Thousands of individuals stepped up, writing personalized and encouraging messages.
Together, we told mothers and pregnant people, in a time of deep isolation for so many:
“You are not alone in this. We’re right here with you.”
During what is traditionally a fundraising-only period, Every Mother Counts decided to launch our first Global Fitness Challenge in honor of Mother’s Month. The choose-your-own fitness and wellness experience focused on helping communities center physical and mental health during the difficult days of 2021, raising community awareness and support for maternal mental health around the country.
866 community members (85% were new to EMC!) pledged to run, walk, bike, and hike throughout the month of May to raise awareness and funds in honor of this goal. Together, the team logged 2,900 hours of activity...that equals out to about 120 straight days of awareness-building and support!
It takes the power of a collective voice to create meaningful change for mothers.
We also launched the first-ever MAMAthon event, hosted by actor Rose Byrne honoring advocate Charles Johnson and acknowledging comedian Amy Schumer for her championship of our mission, in May to uplift the stories and feature the voices of maternal health heroes who have made a significant impact on maternal health in recent years.
The event was attended by a virtual audience of over 500 people and received generous support from match donor First Response.
In 2021, we continued to directly support community-led maternal health groups around the world, while also working to advance legislation and policy protecting pregnant people and mothers.
Plus, we launched and advanced several Transformative Initiatives designed to support the health and wellbeing of mothers, pregnant people, and families everywhere.
Beyond financial support, we continue to build relationships rooted in trust and provide robust, multi-faceted support that helps grantees deepen their impact, grow, and become stronger as organizations.
Throughout 2021, we renewed our commitment to trust-based philanthropy and equitable partnerships by updating our grantmaking framework to reflect direct feedback from grantees as well as current philanthropic best practices. We initiated multi-year grants for the first time, while continuing to promote trust-based practices and streamlining our grantmaking processes. We also identified opportunities to champion our grantees’ work, supporting capacity and relationship building while fostering sustainability.
Photo: Elephant Circle
As part of a long-term vision, EMC’s grantee in Colorado, Elephant Circle, led the development of the most comprehensive state-level birth equity legislation in the U.S.
The Birth Equity Bill package, which was developed and driven by the direct experiences of community members, midwives, and doulas, tackles various dimensions of inequity in maternal health, including extending postpartum Medicaid coverage from two months to one year, ensuring perinatal support for incarcerated persons and families, and other key protections.
The landmark legislation, which will have critical benefits for pregnant people and mothers across Colorado, successfully passed into law in 2021.
Photo: Bumi Sehat
As the pandemic intensified in Indonesia, EMC grantee Bumi Sehat built a special isolation room in partnership with the local Department of Health in Papua to continue to care for COVID-positive women during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.
This new initiative was designed to protect the right of everyone to give birth in a place of their choice, where they feel safe and respected.
Every Mother Counts invests in local, community-based organizations working in underserved and historically marginalized communities that deliver high-impact, cost-effective, person-centered initiatives grounded in a human rights framework.
In 2021, we continued to deepen our global investments* in regions of focus while dedicating half of our grantmaking to U.S. grantees working to advance birth justice.
*Chart represents the breakdown of funds allocated to each region for our 2021-2022 programmatic year. It may differ from the grantmaking total in our audited financials.
At EMC, we advocate for critical maternal health policies, but we also demystify advocacy and make it easier for mothers, birthing people, and community members to engage.
Our approach ensures that our policy priorities are community-driven, aligned with the needs of our grassroots partners, grounded in evidence, and rooted in principles of human rights, equity, and birth justice. We collaborate with key decision-makers, thought and practice leaders, and community members throughout the United States to provide maternal health thought partnership – and we help mobilize the community to advance maternal health at local, state, national, and global levels.
Below are a few snapshots of our policy work in 2021.
Photo: Black Maternal Health Caucus
For several years, Every Mother Counts has been a strong voice in efforts to build and advance the Black Maternal Health Momnibus, a package of twelve bills addressing the maternal health crisis in the U.S. The legislation advances critically important policies that address the support needed to address birth equity, particularly for Black birthing people, and dedicate robust funding to ensure quality health care, community support, and a myriad of social support programs that pregnant and postpartum women desperately need.
2021 brought a significant win for advocates for the Black Maternal Health Momnibus. On November 30th, the Protecting Moms Who Served Act was signed into law after passing in both the Senate and House of Representatives, making it the first bill from the Black Maternal Health Momnibus to become law. This bill improves maternity care among veterans through comprehensive research and maternity care coordination programs.
Every Mother Counts has supported the development of and advocacy for the Momnibus even before its initial introduction in 2020 and continues to advocate for the passage of each of its bills.
Throughout 2021, EMC worked with the New York State Birth Center Association and other birth center advocates to mobilize NY community members to pass the New York midwife-led birth center bill (A.259A / S.1414A). This bill, which unanimously passed in the NY Senate and Assembly, works to eliminate barriers to opening midwife-led birth centers, increasing access to care and options for New York’s birthing people and families.
We led several take action campaigns, provided testimony on the bill in front of the NYS Assembly, submitted letters of support, and called on community members to advocate with state policymakers. With Governor Kathy Hochul’s signature on December 31st, this key legislation became law in New York, paving the way for more midwife-led birth centers. Passing this key bill was a critical step towards ensuring that New York’s mothers and birthing people can access care and services in birth settings proven to result in positive health outcomes, cost-effective care, and health equity.
With the continued work of tireless advocates in Congress, historic maternal health provisions were integrated into the Build Back Better Act, a package of bills to improve the social welfare and wellbeing of people living in the U.S.
EMC was excited to see that the Build Back Better Act included permanent funds for all 50 states to extend Medicaid for a full year postpartum and every eligible provision of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021. We worked quickly to mobilize our community to urge their Members of Congress to pass these key maternal health provisions in each iteration of the Build Back Better Act.
While the bill was not passed in 2021, these advancements in political will to prioritize mothers and birthing people at the national level were unprecedented.
During the first ever White House Maternal Health Call to Action, led by Vice President Kamala Harris, EMC committed to launching our Transformation Fund – investments to seed, incubate, and accelerate approaches with the potential to transform maternity care and advance birth justice for all. Beginning in 2022, EMC will commit $5 million over the next three years towards multi-year funding for catalytic, multi-dimensional, and collaborative initiatives that could transform care experiences and outcomes for all. These investments will demonstrate and advance models that increase health systems integration, elevate person-centered solutions and tools, and focus on equitable and respectful care practices.
These ‘Transformative Initiatives’ complement EMC’s core grantmaking and policy work, seeking to transform the experiences of as many mothers, birthing people, and providers as possible.
A few examples of this work’s progress in 2021 below.
The need for comprehensive and person-centered support during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period has long been a critical gap for maternal health in the United States, particularly for Black birthing people. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, leading to unprecedented isolation, fear, and anxiety for families, and exacerbating longstanding gaps in the health care system and structural barriers to accessing maternity care.
In response, Every Mother Counts and our partners Ancient Song Doula Services, Village Birth International, and Jacaranda Health launched JustBirth Space – a free virtual platform, grounded in a birth justice framework – to connect pregnant and birthing people to comprehensive and person-centered support. Based on the expertise of community-based doula programs and grounded in anti-racist models of care, JustBirth Space offers responsive and compassionate perinatal support through text and video chat, as well as virtual support groups and classes for mothers, pregnant people and families, all free of charge.
By the end of 2021, JustBirth Space had engaged 3,175 birthing people and their families via text, video calls, and virtual support groups and classes.
A large body of research indicates that institutional racism and racial bias among healthcare providers are key contributors to disparities in maternal health outcomes. Yet, many medical students do not receive training on understanding racism, its effects on health, and strategies to combat racism in healthcare.
To address this gap, EMC partnered with University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine in 2021 to co-design and pilot a workshop curriculum centered on addressing racial disparities in maternal health. Our curriculum drew from an interdisciplinary evidence base and EMC’s expertise in storytelling, interweaving our Giving Birth in America films with research on the maternal health landscape, drivers of disparities, and solutions for addressing them.
Overall, 42 participants registered for the pilot workshop series “Introduction to Addressing Racial Disparities in Maternal Health,” which launched in April 2021 and consisted of four virtual sessions. In light of the pilot’s success, the Miller School of Medicine formally integrated the curriculum into its clerkship program to reach all medical students. The early success of the pilot holds promise for the integration of the curriculum into additional medical programs across the country.
Quality, respectful, and equitable maternity care is a fundamental human right. Everyone deserves the information they need to exercise their rights and make decisions about their care that reflect their values and preferences.
In 2021, to expand the reach of our message to new audiences and serve more pregnant and postpartum people than ever before, we began a year-long partnership with CVS and the CVS Foundation. With their support, we began an ambitious project to center the stories and wisdom of doulas, midwives, doctors, and pregnant people and mothers.
The series, created for national launch in 2022, is designed to educate people about their pregnancy and birth options, help them take an active role in their maternity care, and to remind them that they are not alone during pregnancy, birth, and beyond.
For over a decade, Every Mother Counts has mobilized global attention and resources to combat the maternal health crisis and achieve birth justice. As we stepped into our second decade in 2021, to ground this long-term transformational vision for the community, we released the Every Mother Counts Declaration, proclaiming ‘10 Things We’re Working Towards' for today and for all the days to come.
The EMC Declaration served as a rallying cry for this community, anchoring our shared vision and long-term goals, while educating people newer to the work.
We are grateful for every donation, like, share, and local action taken by the Every Mother Counts community in 2021. It is through this collective impact that we will achieve our long-term vision, and collectively build the world we envision together.
As vaccines rolled out, we were able to come together in-person for certain opportunities to support and spread awareness! We hosted meaningful conversations with a few of our U.S. based grantee partners in NYC, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Wellness and fitness have always been an integral part of engaging and building our community of supporters. 2021 was no exception. Team EMC hit the ground running by resuming our participation in the Chicago Marathon, NYC Marathon, and Golden Gate Half Marathon & 5k.
Every Mother Counts has been collaborating with companies and brands who are aligned with our mission since the start. In partnership with EMC, these brands rally their employees and customers in support of our mission and activations.
Thanks to the companies who stepped up by sponsoring Match campaigns this year. These critical sponsorships help EMC maximize fundraising and multiply our impact each year.
*Ending Net Assets: $10,781,476
Liz Robinson (Board Chair)
Christy Turlington Burns
Carol Ann Blinken
Patricia Herrera Lansing
Leigh Sherwood Matthes
Eva Marie Price
Georgia Alexandra Davis
Roma van der Walt
The Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Inc.
Moet Hennessy USA
Chime for Change
Select Equity Group Foundation
WPP/MediaCom x Conde Nast
Brides for a Cause
California Pizza Kitchen
Citizens of Humanity
Scarborough and Tweed
Seadream Family Foundation
Joshua Kushner Foundation
The Blodgett Family Fund
Yellow Chair Foundation
The Boedecker Foundation
The ShineMaker Foundation
Jennifer Haythe and Eli Casdin
Thomas and Janet Montag Family Foundation
Sands Family Foundation
Mark and Jennifer Styslinger Charitable Foundation
Story Garschina Foundation
Brenda and Rich Battista
Carol Ann Blinken
Orla Coleman and Rikki Tahta
Carol and Joel Davis
The Serena Foundation Fund
Maria McManus and Mark Gibson
Jenny Craig Family Foundation
Ali and Paul Hewson
Heather and Jony Ives
Michelle and Corey Jassem
Hilani and Neville Kerr
Elizabeth and Gardner Lane
Rhonda Lee Meister Living Trust
Gina and Stuart Peterson
Kim-Thu Posnett and Michael Pastor
Eva Marie and Bill Price
Richison Family Foundation
Liz and Samuel Robinson
Sarah and Brian Thomas
Kimbrough Towles and George Loening
Samantha and Scott Zinober
Dr. Elizabeth Howell and Darren Thompson
Pam and Larry Baer
Amanda Conway and Alexander Brehm
The D'Avino Family Charitable Gift Fund
Marweld Family Charitable Fund
Mariam Naficy and Michael Mader
Amy and John Griffin
Savannah Guthrie and Mike Feldman
Christopher and Abigial Johnson Fund
Kathryn and Matthew Kamm
Robert and Robin Klau
Leigh and Bill Matthes
Belinda V. Munoz
The O'Leary-Thiry Family Fund
Lee Rhodes and Peter Seligmann
Sarah and Daniel Rueven
The Porter Family Foundation
Tichy Simmons Family Fund
Lizzie and Jon Tisch
Hunter Walk and Caroline Barlerin
Vivien Wang Gossard and Stone Gossard
Alexandra and Spencer Wells
Adrienne and Chris Bosh
The Hummingbird Fund
Margaret Des Gaines and Steven Jang
Ann and Kevin Morrison
Susan and Sean Paroff
Stephanie Freid-Perenchio and John Perenchio
Lisa Stone Pritzker
Wendell Winton and Noah Pritzker
The Vanessa Pean Foundation
Dr. Cristina Gamboa
Camilla Dietz Bergeron
Chateau La Coste
Greg Lopez and Gary Danko
Lemieux Et Cie
Lindsey Adelman Studio
Madison Square Garden
The Baer Family
Sylvia Tennenbaum Textile Art
*Thank you to our generous match partners.