W. K. Kellogg Foundation Funding to Combat Infant Mortality Rate

April 24, 2012


DETROIT - The W. K. Kellogg Foundation has made a major funding commitment of $800,000 to reduce infant mortality in Detroit.

The foundation’s support for Sew Up the Safety Net for Women & Children brings total program funding to $2.6 million. The program is the creation of the Detroit Regional Infant Mortality Reduction Task Force, a collaboration of four Detroit-based health systems, public health, academic and community organizations, which are partnering to address the high rate of infant death in Detroit. Currently, 15 babies for every 1000 live births do not survive past their first birthdays – more than twice the national average.

The program employs a non-traditional workforce, community health workers ("navigators"), based in three Detroit neighborhoods. Navigators will use personal approaches, such as home visits, mentoring and group meetings, with social media tools to reach women in their communities. Recruitment is now in process.

“Sew Up the Safety Net is focusing its efforts in the Brightmoor, Chadsey Condon, and Osborn neighborhoods. Now, the Kellogg Foundation’s generous support will allow us to carry compelling messaging beyond those areas, to the community at large,” says Task Force Founding Chair Kimberlydawn Wisdom, M.D., senior vice president of Community Health & Equity and chief wellness officer at Henry Ford Health System. “This funding will help expand the reach of the program and ensure its sustainability to reduce infant mortality in Detroit, as well as demonstrate the effectiveness of the community-health-worker approach to other communities.”

In addition to Kellogg, the program is funded by The Kresge Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the University of Michigan School of Public Health, PNC Foundation, the Detroit Medical Center (DMC), Henry Ford Health System, Oakwood Healthcare System, and St. John Providence Health System.

The goals of the Sew Up the Safety Net program are to:

  • Connect 1,500 at-risk women, ages 18-34 (375 pregnant and 1,125 pre-pregnancy) to existing community and health care resources.
  • Improve awareness in health equity of the health care professionals in the partnering systems.
  • Establish educational and supportive products to engage the broader community in promoting good health before and during pregnancy.

A marketing campaign will connect women with resources using a mix of innovative and traditional outreach methods including: community events; posters and advertising; neighborhood murals; a locally focused, multimedia website; text messaging; social media; social support; and live chats with health professionals.

Materials will be designed to educate and draw attention to four campaign components: goal setting; family planning and self-investment; pre-pregnancy health; and pregnancy and infant health. The materials will connect women to the program, the task force partners, each other, and other resources in their communities.

The social marketing strategy will empower women to access local resources, build on their skills as health consumers, support program goals, and extend program benefits to a broader audience within the community.

The Detroit Regional Infant Mortality Reduction Task Force was convened in 2008 at the request of the CEOs of Henry Ford, the Detroit Medical Center, Oakwood and St. John.

For more information about Sew Up the Safety Net for Women & Children, call (313) 874-4581.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, established in 1930, supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society. Grants are concentrated in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and southern Africa. For further information on the foundation, please visit www.wkkf.org.