Special Projects Fund

Project Title

Expanding Equitable Access to Doulas in Albany and Surrounding Communities

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Special Projects Fund

Date Awarded

June 15, 2023


Capital Region


In Progress



Racial disparities in maternal health are among the most glaring and persistent of all health disparities.

Recent data show that discrimination was a probable or definite circumstance in almost half of maternal mortality cases in New York State. Although there is no silver bullet solution to this crisis, doulas have emerged as an innovative strategy to address inequities for birthing patients and improve patient outcomes. Doulas are trained, nonclinical childbirth professionals who provide physical, emotional, and informational support during and after pregnancy—often in home- and community-based settings. However, people of color and people with low income are less likely to use doula services because of cost, limited access, lack of cultural sensitivity, and provider resistance. In 2023, NYHealth awarded Albany Medical College (AMC) a grant to provide better access to doulas for people with low income and people of color giving birth in Albany and surrounding communities.  

Under this grant, AMC will partner with BirthNet, a local birth justice organization that focuses on certification for doulas of color, and the University of Albany’s Black Maternal Health Collective to train doulas and launch a doula program. It will expand its patient advisory council to learn about patients’ birthing experiences. It will conduct focus groups with patients and community stakeholders to make sure the doula program reflects their needs and preferences. Feedback will help identify instances of implicit bias and other discriminatory practices to inform quality improvement activities. Once trained, doulas will be fully incorporated into AMC’s birthing clinical care teams and connect with patients who plan to deliver at AMC or who are transferred there for a higher level of care. In addition, AMC will convene birthing hospitals and community providers to identify opportunities to scale and sustain doula programs in the region. AMC will also work with leaders across the State to share best practices.