Student Initiative Addresses Black Maternal Health Disparity in Underserved Communities March 7, 2023

New York, February 27, 2023 – Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY), an accredited, not-for-profit college with two campuses in lower Manhattan and the Bronx, is proud to announce that it has received a TD Bank Ready Commitment grant from the TD Charitable Foundation aimed at advancing awareness of the Black Maternal Health crisis, the health equity crisis in maternal care for birthing people of color and supporting NYC advocacy efforts for change.

This year, through the TD Ready Commitment grant, MCNY’s student and alumni-driven community project Black Maternal Health Initiative, (BMHI or the Initiative), established in 2022 by the MCNY Library with the help of an American Library Association (ALA) Libraries Transform Communities Engagement grant, will undertake yearlong student and community engagement around birth equity and institutional racism as a public health crisis.

The college-wide conversation on the health equity crisis in maternal care for Black and Brown communities, especially in the Bronx, is driven by student and alumni interest through the BMHI Peer Leadership Group (BMHI-PLG). With support from the TD Charitable Foundation, the Initiative will host panel discussions open to the public, featuring leaders in the field as guest speakers. These will be followed by a series of roundtable talks led by the BMHI-PLG to continue the conversation. The project will culminate in fall 2023 with a health fair hosted at the Bronx MCNY campus and a symposium that will bring together healthcare and community leaders and scholars as well as showcase MCNY student work around the topic.

“In the first year of the initiative, BMHI Peer Leaders engaged with groundbreaking scholars, inspiring activists, and experienced practitioners. It has been wonderful to see them grow into their own power as advocates for the reproductive health equity issues they feel so strongly about,” said Natalia Sucre, Director of Library Services for Metropolitan College of New York, “Now they are ready to take further community action themselves, and this is what the TD grant will support.”

MCNY serves a large population of Black and Brown adult students with undergraduate and graduate programs in human services, public policy, healthcare systems management, emergency management, education and community health education. The College’s mission, to promote social justice, and encourage positive change in workplaces and communities, along with the demographics of its student body and fields of study perfectly aligns with bringing awareness and solutions to disparities, inequities and inequalities.

The first TD Ready Commitment supported panel discussion, “Addressing Racism as a Public Health Crisis – Mental Health and Birth Equity,” will take place on Tuesday, March 7 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm and is open to the public via zoom and streaming on-site at the MCNY Bronx and Manhattan campuses.

The panel will be moderated by Desi K. Robinson, MCNY Professor, Community Health Education, Health & Lifestyle Journalist, Birth/Postpartum Doula.

The guest speakers include:

Dr. Melissa Barber is co-founder of South Bronx Unite, the author of Thirty Days of Thanks and public health researcher and ambassador for the Birthing Project.

Jade Kearney is an educator, tech entrepreneur and co-founder and CEO of She Matters, a digital health platform that provides Black mothers who experience postpartum comorbidities access to community, culturally competent healthcare providers, and culturally relevant resources.

Bruce McIntyre is founder of saveArose Foundation, a birthing equity activist working to bring a midwife-led birthing center to the Bronx and lobbying government officials to craft legislation surrounding maternal, mental health & surviving families. McIntyre was also featured in the 2022 documentary Aftershock.

Isabel Morgan is Director of Birth Equity Research Scholars at the National Birth Equity Collaborative and a PhD candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, researching infertility epidemiology and equitable access to fertility treatment.  

This event is open to the public. Advance Zoom registration is required for virtual attendance.

Register HERE.


Media Contacts:

Tina Georgiou, Director of Communications and Alumni Relations,, 646-648-0694
Tina Callender, Evening Reference Librarian,, 718-237-2289  

About TD Charitable Foundation and TD Bank’s Ready Commitment:
The TD Ready Commitment is a global initiative that helps level the playing field for those who need it most. By empowering people with an equal chance to succeed today, TD Bank is opening doors for a more inclusive and sustainable tomorrow. Learn more about the TD Ready Commitment and specifically, the Better Health priority:  

About Metropolitan College of New York:
For almost 60 years, MCNY has been serving highly motivated adult learners and has produced over 12,000 graduates; a vibrant network of professionals engaged in improving our world and striving for excellence. MCNY is a not-for-profit, accredited, private college committed to providing a superior, experientially-based education that fosters personal and professional development, promotes social justice, and encourages positive change in workplaces and communities. MCNY campuses are located in the Financial District at 60 West Street, New York, NY 10006 and in the Bronx at 463 East 149th Street, Bronx, NY 10455. For more information visit or call 212-343-1234.

About the facts of the health equity crisis in maternal and infant health for Black and Brown communities:
While a complex set of interconnected causes shape the current crisis, there is no mistaking the underlying cause: study after study, case after case have made repeatedly clear that institutional racism and unconscious bias in the medical and healthcare system are major drivers of the severe health inequities impacting maternal and infant health for communities of color.

  • More than 84% of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. are preventable (CDC, 2022).
  • Nationally, Black and Brown birthing people are 3 times more likely to die from pregnancy than their White peers (CDC, 2022); 8-12 times more likely in NYC (NYC Office of the Public Advocate, 2021; NYC Health, 2010).
  • For every death from pregnancy-related causes there are 70 near misses, with people of color experiencing traumatic births at twice the rate of other groups (National Health Institutes, 2019)
  • Education and socioeconomic status are no protection: A Black birthing person with a college education is twice as likely to die from pregnancy than a White birthing person with less than a high school diploma (NYC Health, 2016).