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Best Babies Zone Releases Guide to Support Communities in Reducing Racial Inequities in Infant Mortality

News for 01.22.18
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Berkekely, California - January 22, 2018

Berkeley Public Health Best Babies Zone releases guide to support communities in reducing racial inequities in infant mortality

The Best Babies Zone (BBZ) Technical Assistance Center at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health has released a practical guide for implementing the BBZ approach. BBZ Basics: A Step by Step Guide is intended for both public health and non-public health organizations looking to start a place-based, multi-sector, community-driven initiative to reduce racial inequities in infant mortality. The production and use of this guide contributes to the BBZ vision that every baby is born healthy, into communities that enable them to thrive and reach their full potential.

“BBZ Basics is the culmination of six years of lessons learned through supporting BBZ sites around the country,” said BBZ Principal Investigator, Dr. Cheri Pies. “Now, more community-based initiatives seeking to transform neighborhoods to reduce inequities in birth outcomes will be able to learn about the BBZ approach and adapt it to their work, strengthening the movement for equity in birth outcomes in the United States.”

Despite recent declines in national infant mortality rates, African American babies are still twice as likely to die in their first year of life compared to white babies. Clinical interventions like prenatal care are not enough to reduce this gap, and there is growing recognition that factors such as economic stability, educational opportunity, chronic exposure to stress, and racism play a critical role in these disparities. The BBZ approach takes all these factors into account in order to address the root causes and structural factors contributing to these inequities.

In 2012, with an initial $2.75M grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the BBZ Initiative launched three pilot Zones to address inequities in birth outcomes in Cincinnati, OH; New Orleans, LA; and Oakland, CA. In 2016, thanks to a three-year, $1.4M grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, three new zones joined the Initiative: Indianapolis, IN; Kalamazoo, MI; and Portland, OR. In November, 2017, the BBZ initiative welcomed three more Zones in Cleveland, OH; Milwaukee, WI; and New York City, NY.

The Zones receive support from the BBZ Technical Assistance Center around tackling racial inequities in birth outcomes by applying the four foundational strategies of BBZ: place-based focus, multi-sector collaboration, community-driven action, and cultivating a social movement. BBZ Basics provides an in-depth look at these strategies and includes resources for implementation and evaluation. BBZ Basics is available for free on the BBZ Initiative website: The production of BBZ Basics was funded by grants from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Grants Program.

For more information about the Best Babies Zone Initiative, please visit

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation: The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. For more information, visit

About the Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit: The national Community Benefit Grants Program, a part of Community Health Initiatives, supports Kaiser Permanente’s mission to improve the health of the communities that Kaiser Permanente serves. Kaiser Permanente Community Health Initiatives exists to improve the health of individuals, families and communities by addressing the social, economic and environmental determinants of health.

For more information, visit

About the UC Berkeley School of Public Health: The first school of public health west of the Mississippi, the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health was founded in 1943 on the Berkeley campus. It is one of 50 schools accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health. The UC Berkeley School of Public Health improves population health, especially for the most vulnerable, through radical collaborations to meet health needs and achieve health equity, preeminent education that challenges convention and develops diverse leaders, and transformational research on the major public health threats and opportunities of today and tomorrow. For more information, visit

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