The Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation’s monthly $1,000 mini-grant was awarded to the Southeast Michigan Doula Project (SMDP) on September 10, 2017 to fund doula training scholarships for marginalized local women.
SMDP has a base of approximately 50 dedicated and trained volunteer doulas who serve the nine southeast Michigan counties. These women provide evidence-based, emotional, physical, and informational support to pregnant women, teens, and their families before, during, and after birth. In addition to birth doula services, SMDP is committed to community outreach and public awareness regarding reproductive issues.
SMDP was founded three years ago by two newly trained doulas who shared a vision of volunteering their services to low-income and homeless pregnant women and teens. It became obvious that there was a need for doulas within the local community when SMDP’s founders were asked to expand their services to low-income women working with University of Michigan midwives. Within one month they had too many clients to handle on their own and were scrambling to find other community doulas to volunteer their time.
SMDP has recognized a gap in its ability to provide the majority of its clients who come from marginalized groups with a doula of similar identity. Additionally, women from these marginalized groups encounter financial barriers to obtaining doula training. Part of SMDP’s mission is to bridge this gap by providing as many doula training scholarships as possible to women who would not otherwise be able to afford it, but would be great assets and diverse members of the local birth community. These scholarships would also provide recipients with future entrepreneurial opportunities serving as for-hire doulas to the more affluent mothers and families who can afford them.
SMDP’s Awesome Foundation grant will be used to provide three doula training scholarships to women who are representative of marginalized groups, including but not limited to women of color, LGBT women, and economically underprivileged women. These recipients will be added to SMDP’s volunteer base to better provide SMDP clients with doulas who share their identity and life experiences.
The Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation is the Ann Arbor chapter of the Boston-based micro-philanthropic organization known as the Awesome Foundation. Each fully autonomous chapter supports awesome projects through micro-grants, usually given out monthly. These micro-grants, $1,000 or the local equivalent, come out of pockets of the chapter’s “trustees” and are given on a no-strings-attached basis to people and groups working on awesome projects.