Day: May 13, 2022

Chicago Beyond Announces New Leadership Venture to Transform Black Maternal Health Outcomes 

The venture partners with Jeanine Valrie Logan, certified nurse midwife, and advocate for birth equity to accelerate her work in opening the first free-standing birth center on Chicago’s South Side 

Chicago Beyond, an impact investor that works to ensure all young people have the opportunity to live a free and full life in Chicago’s communities, today announced its newest endeavor to support Jeanine Valrie Logan, a birth equity champion who works to address inequities in Black maternal health. Valrie Logan is currently working on the development of the Chicago South Side Birth Center, a nonprofit, Black midwife-led, culturally concordant, community-focused birth center to be located on Chicago’s South Side. Jeanine Valrie Logan joins Chicago Beyond as part of the organization’s Leadership Venture. 

Launched in 2018, the Leadership Venture program provides fellowship for extraordinary individuals poised to make a significant impact on young people in Chicago and beyond. Their inaugural venture with Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia to holistically support those in the criminal legal system proved how investing in those with lived experience can lead to deep systemic impact.  

“This partnership with Jeanine not only has the potential for tremendous impact for birthing people, families, and communities served by the Chicago South Side Birth Center, but also will set the standard for what holistic Black maternal health can look like across the nation,” said Liz Dozier, founder and CEO of Chicago Beyond. “It’s vital that we support leaders like Jeanine, empower their lived experience, and lower the barrier to entry for those who are wanting and willing to make an impact.” 

Over the next two years, Chicago Beyond will support Valrie Logan with funding and professional support to successfully launch the Chicago South Side Birth Center – a freestanding maternal health center which will provide holistic, community-based care to birthing people and families before, during, and after birth, as well as create a liberatory space that affirms the experience, autonomy, identity, healing, self-determination, and liberation of Black birthing people, their families, and communities. The lack of supportive birthing options available to pregnant Black women and people on the South Side has created what the Chicago Tribune has called a birthing desert, forcing them to travel far beyond where they live to seek adequate prenatal care, and to deliver. In August of 2021, Valrie Logan’s work was influential in pushing through Illinois House Bill 738, which aims to expand access to birth centers across the City of Chicago. 

“I’m so honored to be partnering with Chicago Beyond to make Black maternal health a priority in the South Side and across the city of Chicago,” said Jeanine Valrie Logan, Chicago Beyond’s newest Leadership Venture recipient. “It’s empowering to feel trusted with my vision and ideas so that I can support the community that I love.” 

Between 2019 and 2020, the number of hospitals serving the southeast corridor of the South Side offering maternity services dropped from seven to three. Mercy Hospital, one of the three remaining facilities offering labor and delivery services, recently announced it would close permanently, leaving South Side women and birthing people with even fewer birthing options in their community.  

The Black maternal health crisis is a critical systemic challenge, with staggering impacts on young people, children, and families throughout the South and West Sides of Chicago and across the country. The Center for Disease Control has noted the stark disparities in prenatal and postnatal care between white patients and patients of color, particularly Black patients, result in higher child and mother mortality rates. Racially biased pre-judgements about pain threshold, consent, care, and communication lead Black patients to often being denied needed medical treatments and support.  

Valrie Logan plans to rectify these disparities and support Black mothers, birthing people, and children in the South Side community through holistic care and equitable birthing practices. Chicago Beyond believes that it is these types of unrestricted, trust-based investments that will make the most outstanding impact across communities.  

To learn more about Chicago Beyond’s work in ensuring all young people are free to live up to their fullest potential, click here. To learn more about the Chicago South Side Birth Center and support the ongoing work of the initiative, click here. 

About Jeanine Valrie Logan

Jeanine Valrie Logan, is a Certified Nurse Midwife, certified lactation specialist, and has a strong background in public health and reproductive health policy. She is a birth justice activist and often speaks publicly on breastfeeding, birth justice, doulas, and midwifery in the Black community. She is the co-editor of the book Free to Breastfeed: Voices of Black Mothers. Jeanine works collectively with birth workers of color and allies to address birth inequity – including most recently on the writing and passing of HB738 which expands birth centers in the state of Illinois. She is a wife and mother of three, all of whom were born out-of-hospital.