See Who The First Hospital Foundation is Teaming Up with to Improve Maternity Care

The maternal death rate in Pennsylvania has increased to approximately 14.5 per 100,000, and 18 women per 100,000 die during childbirth. Shockingly, the United States ranks a dismal 47th in maternal death rates, falling behind less-developed countries like Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

In December 2013, the Philadelphia's First Hospital Foundation (FHF) announced 44 grants to nonprofit agencies, totaling more than $1.3 million. Since the average FHF grant is between $10,000 and $30,000, it's into partnering with larger foundations to reduce the risks of pregnancy across the state. (Read First Hospital Foundation: Philadelphia Grants).

One particularly significant collaborative project is the Maternity Care Coalition (MCC) of Greater Philadelphia, which is dedicated to maternal and child health. FHF awarded this nonprofit a $15,000 general operating support grant for the second year of a two-year commitment. This latest award is going toward home visiting programs, breastfeeding support, early head-start programs, and advocacy programs. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

National funding giant the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently highlighted the funding partnership between First Hospital Foundation and the Maternity Coalition in a video about its local funding partnership. FHF provided matching funds to a Robert Wood Johnson grant to the maternity nonprofit, going toward the MOMobile program at the Riverside Correctional Facility.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation believes that the best solutions are grown locally, and as a huge national funder, it makes a lot of sense to trust locally-based FHF — where the staff has a finger on the pulse of Philadelphia healthcare.

But this isn't the only national name paying attention to disadvantaged mothers-to-be in Pennsylvania. In 2013, MCC was selected by Merck Pharmaceutical Company as one of four organizations to join its “Merck for Mothers” campaign to reduce mortality and morbidity during pregnancy. With Merck’s collaborative support of $150,000, MCC has begun identifying women who have chronic and poorly-controlled health problems, coordinate multidisciplinary pregnancy care, and connect them to resources.

Despite the prominent names and large checks, FHF remains in the center of the action, with a clear understanding, an enduring local focus, and an eagerness for collaboration.