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Penn Alums Give To Support Midwives Of Color

Penn Nursing’s Nurse-Midwifery Class of 2017 has committed to funding a scholarship for future midwives of color, an effort to diversify the workforce and improve patient outcomes.

The idea began with 2017 Nursing Master’s graduate Nicole Chaney. Her inspiration for the scholarship was simply looking around her classroom, which only contained two students of color out of a 21 person class. On average, 78 percent of the graduating Nurse-Midwifery Program classes are white, whereas the people they typically care for are primarily people of color. As Chaney points out, “Research shows that…when a provider looks like the patient, there’s better outcomes for a variety of different reasons.” Given the disproportionately high rates of maternal mortality experienced by black American women, an effort to diversify the workforce may well have positive impact on the health of women and babies.

Chaney and her fellow graduates in the Class of 2017 have committed to raising $125,000 for a scholarship, pledging to donate a percentage of their salaries every month. However, with only a 21-person class, they recognized that they needed additional help to reach their ultimate goal. The University of Pennsylvania has pledged to match $25,000 in donations, and crowdfunding has helped increase the number of donations made toward the scholarship as well.

The dream is to make enough money toward the scholarship to get it endowed, turning it into a gift that can be repeated year after year. Penn Nursing Dean Antonia M. Villarruel says, “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are core values at Penn Nursing and I am proud to see that our students have embraced those values to not only diversify the workforce but to ultimately improve patient care”