About Us

The Best Babies Zone (BBZ) Initiative is an innovative, multi-sector approach to reducing infant mortality and racial disparities in birth outcomes and improving birth and health outcomes by mobilizing communities to address the social determinants that affect health. The BBZ vision is that all babies are born healthy, in communities that enable them to thrive and reach their full potential.  The uniqueness of this national initiative lies in the fact that not only is the approach zonal, but it is comprehensive – addressing four critical sectors – economics, education, health and community – in order to strengthen environments that support better and healthier outcomes. BBZ is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and is being implemented in three cities – Cincinnati, Ohio; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Oakland, California.

BBZ employs three primary strategies to produce measurable outcomes:

  1. A small zone is selected where change is greatly needed and resources are aligned to produce and measure impact
  2. A broad collaborative is formed to work across four sectors (health, economics, education and community) to achieve collective impact
  3. A social movement is cultivated within the city to do whatever it takes to improve birth outcomes in the zone

A consortium of partners has mobilized to support the BBZ Initiative, develop a blueprint and strategies, evaluate its impact, carry out the work in the three cities, and plan for its future growth. The BBZ Policy Corps Team is directed by Cheri Pies of the University of California at Berkeley, who serves as the principal investigator for the initiative. The broader BBZ team includes partners from all four of the BBZ cities, AMCHP, CityMatCH and the National Healthy Start Association. These organizations will develop community assessment guidelines, create workbooks to assist with future dissemination of the initiative and establish learning communities for the BBZ participating sites. The BBZ Policy Corps Team also includes Mario Drummonds (development and sustainability and Milton Kotelchuck (consultant).  Harder + Company are the evaluators for the BBZ Initiative.

BBZ was awarded its initial three-year funding in the spring of 2012 by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and has received a fourth year of funding to do technical assistance and continued evaluation.