Grant supports tuition-free midwifery program at U-M for underserved areas

Pregnant women in minority communities face a disproportionately higher risk of childbirth complications, with mortality rates approximately four times greater than those of their white counterparts.

These disparities are exacerbated by instances of disrespectful maternity care that perpetuate existing inequities in access to quality health care.

In response to ongoing disparities, the University of Michigan School of Nursing has partnered with Birth Detroit to launch the Michigan Maternity Care Traineeship Program. The program is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration and marks a significant advancement in UMSN’s commitment to health equity and efforts to diversify the midwifery profession.

The grant provides nearly $1 million annually for the next four years to support the financial and mentorship needs of students in the nurse-midwifery program. The first cohort of 13 students began in winter 2024, with additional groups slated for the fall term for the subsequent four years.

MiMat Care prioritizes supporting students who live in or work in medically underserved communities, have significant need for financial support, and have a commitment to serving those communities as nurse-midwives.

"The University of Michigan School of Nursing has one of the country’s top midwifery programs, and one of our priorities has been to look at opportunities to address health equity by diversifying the maternity care workforce,- said Lisa Kane Low , professor at the U-M School of Nursing.

An essential component of this effort is the establishment of strategic community partnerships with a shared vision of diversifying the midwifery workforce as a strategy to reduce health care strategies. UMSN is currently partnering with Birth Detroit and Metro Detroit Midwives of Color to implement the MiMAT Care grant.

Birth Detroit is a Black-led, nonprofit birth justice organization that provides safe, culturally relevant care to meet the needs of communities of color. Since its 2020 opening, Birth Detroit has served more than 200 families and provided services to nearly 400 clients. In late spring, it will open the doors to a birth center, enabling the organization to extend its easy-access clinic’s service hours, initiate well-person care, and provide care for labor, birth and postpartum.

Metro Detroit Midwives of Color is a nonprofit professional organization that creates a professional and social network for all minority midwives that serve metro Detroit.

"This collaboration is what impact looks like. This is a blueprint for directing funds where they are most needed,- said Char’ly Snow , co-founder and chief clinical officer at Birth Detroit. "Our partnership is based on providing spaces and opportunities for advancing and diversifying the midwifery profession.-

Scholars who chose to receive MiMAT Care funding will have access to tuition support and mentoring from UMSN faculty and nurse-midwives working in the community with a shared vision of health equity.

Kane Low said students, regardless of race or ethnicity, can participate, if they have lived experiences in medically underserved areas and have intentions of returning service to such communities.

Current students interested in the MiMat Care Program or application process should. If not a student but interested in the midwifery program, .