Caring for Denver Foundation grants $1.7 million to local organizations that support BIPOC maternal mental health

With Mental Health Awareness Month and Mother’s Day co-occurring in May, the topic of maternal mental health is top of mind. Maternal mental health refers to the health of the birther during pregnancy and up to two years after giving birth. During this time, pregnant and postpartum individuals can be more susceptible to depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, leading to mental health and substance misuse issues.

Maternal mental health is a critical issue for birthers worldwide, yet many individuals face barriers to accessing care and further face stigma and shame. According to the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, one in five people develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within the first post-natal year. This percentage increases to one in three people in communities of color. Further, suicide is a leading cause of death during pregnancy and the first postnatal year. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s “Health eMoms Report on Behavioral Health,” found that in Colorado, 17% of maternal deaths were due to suicide, and 14% were due to drug overdose.

In Denver, BIPOC communities, in particular, frequently lack access to culturally responsive services to meet support needs and address mental health concerns from grief and loss or the impacts of trauma. According to recent U.S. Census data, nearly one-third of Denver’s 700,000 residents identify as Hispanic or Latinx; as a result, one in three Denver residents faces inequities in accessing care and finding culturally competent mental health services and support.

Caring for Denver Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Denver voters through a 2018 ballot initiative, is addressing this care gap by providing financial support to community-based organizations that serve Denver’s BIPOC mothers. Funded through a portion of Denver city sales tax, Caring for Denver has awarded more than $1.7 million in grants to four organizations that provide mental health services to BIPOC moms including Para Ti Mujer, Birth Squad, La Cocina, and Adam’s Purpose. 

“Each of these organizations serves BIPOC birthers and communities in a critical way,” Lorez Meinhold, executive director of Caring for Denver Foundation, said. Para Ti Mujer provides recovery-based trauma and supportive peer mentoring programs for immigrant mothers; Birth Squad provides bilingual perinatal mental health intervention for birthers and a link to supportive care; La Cocina runs Cultura Cura Belly, a bilingual culturally affirming mental health service that supports Latine birthing persons recovering from the impacts of trauma and substance misuse; and Adam’s Purpose provides mental health support to bereaved moms of color.

“Caring for Denver believes that community-based solutions are the best tool to address the needs of Denver BIPOC communities and their unique experiences and challenges,” continued Meinhold. “The selected organizations fill gaps for communities that lack access to resources and care. Further, these organizations address specific needs based on the lived experience of the communities they serve.”

Caring for Denver is in its fifth year of grantmaking and has awarded more than $154 million in funding since its founding in 2018. Each year, the organization provides grants to support three areas of focus: youth, alternatives to jail, and community-centered solutions. Caring for Denver collaborates with the community to identify worthy programs and organizations. Each grant is reviewed and approved by the foundation’s 13 board members, all of whom are appointed by the Mayor, District Attorney, and City Council President.

About Caring for Denver Foundation

Caring for Denver Foundation was founded and funded with overwhelming voter support to address Denver’s mental health and substance misuse needs by growing community-informed solutions, dismantling stigma, and turning the community’s desire to help into action. Guided by community input, the organization has funded more than $154 million in the areas of alternatives to jail, community-centered solutions, youth, and special initiatives since it began.