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Our Work

Throughout 2021, KBEN members worked collaboratively to develop a research agenda/solutions list to highlight areas of focus in the efforts to improve the health of Black families. Since 2021, KBEN members have continued to work towards addressing the issues identified in the research agenda while celebrating Black families.

KBEN Annual Report 2023

Check out some of our work below!

View our Work

The KBEN research agenda/solutions list describes areas of focus for birth equity and was created by diverse stakeholders/members of the Kansas Birth Equity Network.

This research agenda is a living document. As KBEN grows, our stakeholders make changes to this agenda in order to align with our mission & vision. We hope that this document is a useful resource to others as we work collectively towards improving the health of Black families. If this agenda is useful to you, we ask that you credit KBEN and recognize the contributions of our stakeholders in providing this resource.

KBEN 5-Year Research Agenda

As a result of KBEN member’s commitment to developing the research agenda/solutions list as well as the increase in Black maternal and infant mortality, the Kansas Birth Equity Network has been awarded funds that are to be allocated in the form of mini grants to provide support to address gaps in maternal, paternal, and infant health and wellbeing. 

Through this initiative funded by Healthy Blue, KBEN intends to fund local community organizations/groups that are active members of KBEN - defined as attending at least 70% of KBEN meetings. These mini grants will focus on supporting activities to help moms, dads, and infants in your community survive and thrive. KBEN encourages collaboration with community members and other stakeholders (i.e., health departments, doctor offices, hospitals, etc.).

This initiative is internally named the “Broderick Crawford Fund”, in honor of our dear friend & fierce advocate, Broderick Crawford, Sr.

To apply, please review the Request for Proposals (PDF) and submit your proposal.

Submit Your Proposal

Are you having an event that supports parents and babies or addresses gaps in maternal, paternal, and infant health and well-being? If yes, KBEN & Healthy Blue can partner with you to support the event! 

REQUEST EVENT SPONSORSHIP

Questions? Contact us at kben@kumc.edu

The Kansas Birth Equity Network Birth Equity Curriculum was first created to provide all KBEN members with an understanding of the various factors that impact Black maternal and child health prior to working on the KBEN Research Agenda/Solutions List. The Birth Equity Curriculum is now available to non-KBEN members and has been administered to various healthcare providers & community partners.

About the Course

The curriculum will cover and uncover implicit and explicit bias in maternal health. Through this curriculum, you will gain an understanding of the various factors that contribute to Black maternal and infant health and the mechanisms that aid in obtaining equity.

Learners from across disciplines, professions, organizations, and communities will be challenged to think critically about birth equity, bias, and how to move from denial to awareness of Black safe spaces, Black-led community initiatives, advocacy, Black birth workers, and actions to dismantle institutional and systemic racism.

The achievement of this understanding will come from Black women and their birth stories, public health field experts, community advocates, and current health data.

To request access to the Birth Equity Curriculum, please contact us via email at kben@kumc.edu.

Contact Us

The Stop, Look, Listen, & Think (SLLT) Campaign was created by KBEN members to encourage respectful maternal care in healthcare settings.

SLLT Campaign PDF

Parent Gathering Circles (Virtual) thumbnail imageParent Gathering Circles (Virtual)

Through a collaboration between Kansas Birth Justice Society and the Kansas Birth Equity Network, we've created a brand new online space for Black and brown parents in Kansas to connect, vent, talk through our common experiences, and support each other. We'll discuss a new hot topic each week in this private community space that was created just for us.

Join us online from anywhere you are on Wednesdays at 6:30 pm CST!

Sign Up for Parent Gathering Circles


Black Dope Dads Meetup flyer thumbnail image with meeting information. Meetups are held on the first Friday of the month at 6:30 p.m. CST at 2100 N 13th St, Kansas City, KS 66104. Dinner will be provided for those who attend.Black Dope Dads KCK Meetup

Join other Dope Black Dads for a stigma-free conversation on maternal health, infant health, and mental health awareness for Black men! Meetups are held on the first Friday of the month at 6:30 p.m. CST at 2100 N 13th St, Kansas City, KS 66104. Dinner will be provided for those who attend. 

Sign up for Black Dope Dads KCK Meetup

cover art for KBEN community resource bookletWe have created a Community Resource Booklet for Black families! The 2023 Community Resource Booklet highlights more than 40 organizations and businesses that provide support/services to Black families in Kansas and Missouri.

To download the 2023 Community Resource Booklet, please visit our Community Resources Page.

If you would like to be included in the next community resource booklet update, please complete this form.

Download the KBEN Community Resource Booklet

The Birth Equity Summit formerly known as Celebrate Day 366, started as an initiative between KBEN and local Divine Nine chapters in Wichita, KS to celebrate Black families & the babies first birthday and provide resources. It has since grown to become the Birth Equity Summit, encompassing regional stakeholders and community members!

Join us this year, for the second annual Birth Equity Summit in collaboration with the Heartland Conference! We are excited to bring stakeholders across the state and region together to celebrate the important work of parents, birth workers, community members, and so many more to advance birth equity. Join us on Day 1 to highlight community efforts to improve the health of Black Families and join us on Day 2 to celebrate Black Families at the KBEN Family Reunion/Cookout!

We hope to see you there!

For more details on the Birth Equity Summit & to register, please visit our events page.

Birth Equity Summit

Each year, we gather to celebrate Black Families and raise awareness of Black maternal health during Black Maternal Health Week.

This year, we welcomed over 150 attendees at Healthy, Thriving, Black Families: A Conversation on Black Maternal Health and Birth Equity!  We want to extend our appreciation to every single attendee, vendor, speaker, community partner, legislator, planner, and KBEN member that helped us make this event so amazing.

Black Maternal Health Week 2023 photo of participants

Dr. Sharla Smith, founder & director of the Kansas Birth Equity Network is currently conducting an NIH-funded study to better understand knowledge, experiences, and practices in the clinical management of pregnancy-related hypertension and preeclampsia. We aim to increase awareness of evidence-based treatment to prevent preeclampsia and reduce disparities in maternal mortality faced by Black women.

We are currently recruiting participants for focus groups! All women, especially Black women, who have been pregnant in the last 5 years and have a history of high blood pressure are invited to participate. Participants will receive a $50 gift card for their time.

To participate in a focus group, please contact us:

Preeclampsia & Hypertension Study Focus Group Flyer

In collaboration with Rev. Tony Carter, KBEN has implemented the CROWN Wellness Barbershop project to provide health resources, especially postpartum mental health resources at barbershops and support barbers in providing important health information to their clients.

Barbers receive video training from various experts on the history of Black barbershops, mental health in the Black community, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, COVID-19, and postpartum mental health. Each barbershop is also equipped with an automatic blood pressure monitor, weight scale, and educational materials.

If you’d like to participate in the CROWN Wellness project, please contact us at kben@kumc.edu

As a community-centered initiative, KBEN strives to create feasible opportunities for parents, community members, and other stakeholders to participate in KBEN. The stakeholder engagement roadmap illustrates the many factors that allow KBEN members to participate in the network!

Reasons to join KBEN: Collaborative approach; Evening meetings are convenient for me; I'm able to join from anywhere; Children are always welcome;I believe in KBEN's mission; Shared Research Agend; Accessible, Understandable, Honest Information; Shared Values & Experiences; Like-minded, passionate activists for change; Safe space to share; KBEN supports projects in my community; Birth Equity; I feel like I'm making a difference; I want to help others; Opens doors for new opportunities; Enables me to share information & enrich others; Commitment to awareness, advocacy; accountability; KBEN encourages me to grow.

A Few Reasons to Join KBEN

  • Collaborative approach
  • Evening meetings are convenient for me!
  • I'm able to join from anywhere!
  • Children are always welcome!
  • I believe in KBEN's mission
  • Shared Research Agenda
  • Accessible, Understandable, Honest Information
  • Shared Values & Experiences
  • Like-minded, passionate activists for change
  • Safe space to share
  • KBEN supports projects in my community!
  • Birth Equity!
  • I feel like I'm making a difference
  • I want to help others!
  • Opens doors for new opportunities
  • Enables me to share information & enrich others
  • Commitment to awareness, advocacy, accountability
  • KBEN encourages me to grow!

Join the KBEN Network!

In 2021, KBEN staff and members collaborated on a Birth Equity Blog Series to define birth equity, highlight parent perspectives on birth equity, and record a podcast episode on community engagement to address Black maternal and infant health!

Read the blog posts here!

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, KBEN members identified gaps in providing accurate information on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant women. Through funding from the Pandemic Assistance and Vaccine Equity Grant Program, KBEN members created and disseminated infographics on COVID-19 Vaccination and Pregnancy.

COVID-19 Vaccination & Pregnancy poster: protect your baby, protect your family, protect yourself
COVID-19 Vaccination & Pregnancy poster: with 4 facts

The Kansas Birth Equity Network is currently working to develop a website to increase awareness and education on COVID-19, TDAP, and influenza vaccines for Black birthing persons and families!

Kansas Birth Equity Network

Sharla Smith, Ph.D., MPH
Director
ssmith37@kumc.edu
913-945-7934