Children's Hospital Colorado

Black Health Initiative

Too many people in our community and organization don’t know that Black families face higher mortality rates and discrimination in healthcare settings. The reality: Black mothers and babies in the United States and Colorado die at higher rates than other racial and ethnic groups.

In Colorado, the mortality (death) rate for Black infants is more than twice that of white infants. Institutional and structural racism are large contributing factors to this disparity. Racism contributes to the stress, social isolation and heightened mortality rates that Black families experience. Unfortunately, racism is displayed and acted upon in hospitals, just like in most institutions in our society. In hospital settings, this can cause traumatic experiences and death.

This reality is not one we can accept at Children’s Hospital Colorado. We founded the Black Health Initiative, along with our community partners, to reduce infant mortality rates and improve the healthcare experience for Black families in our community. By working with our partners and community members, we hope to disrupt the racism that causes negative experiences and outcomes for Black families.

What is the Black Health Initiative?

The Black Health Initiative is a multi-faceted program designed to reduce the Black infant mortality rate in several zip codes surrounding our hospital on Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. We’re also leading efforts to improve the patient experience of Black families in our care.

See how we work

We strive to improve outcomes for Black families in four primary areas, highlighted below. Read on to learn more about our pillars and get examples of how we improve healthcare in and for our community.

Connecting families and community

We help Black families feel more connected to community resources, our providers and their fellow community members to reduce the social isolation, anxiety, depression and stress that contribute to Black maternal and infant mortality.

Sharing knowledge about disparities

Our efforts inform our organization, community healthcare providers and our broader community about the disparity in maternal and infant mortality rates and the role implicit bias plays in healthcare and community health.

The flags of the United States and the State of Colorado fly beside the golden dome of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver.

Working toward health equity

Our experts advance policies, within Children’s Colorado and at the state level, that boost the health outcomes of all pregnant individuals and infants, with a focus on health equity for Black Coloradans.

Culturally responsive care

We're working hard to improve experiences in our care settings for our patients, families and providers by creating culturally responsive training for providers and improving appointment scheduling access for our community

Improving social connectedness to reduce infant mortality rates

Black families often feel stressed, isolated, anxious and depressed as a result of navigating our country’s healthcare system, and an array of social issues. These factors contribute to the high rates of Black maternal mortality and infant mortality. To help address these feelings, we work with our partners and the broader community to learn what Black families need to be more connected to healthcare resources.

Within this outreach, we’re undertaking the following efforts:

  • Creating the Kindred Mamas Mentorship Program, which pairs new Black mothers with women who have walked a similar path. Kindred Mama Mentors help their mentees manage life during pregnancy and after giving birth, navigate hospital resources, learn coping strategies, transition home with their baby and more.
  • Holding dinner talks, similar to focus groups, with partners in the community to learn how we can help improve African American health in our communities.
  • Developing an African American Family Advisory Council to advise Children’s Colorado about the experience of Black patients and families and how the hospital can make improvements.
  • Participating in the Community Action Network, which is a collaboration of community organizations, to increase healthy pregnancies and full-term births.

Increasing awareness and education about African American health disparities

One of the first steps in addressing the issues facing Black families is through education. At Children's Colorado, we’re dedicated to informing our team members and community members in multiple ways:

  • Developing a definition and framework for health equity for Children’s Colorado and applying principles that help Black families achieve their highest level of health.
  • Developing policies, practices and an organizational culture that recognizes and reduces implicit bias.
  • Creating resources that connect Black mothers and babies to health services and education, lessening the likelihood of premature births and reducing Black infant mortality.
  • Educating our providers and community providers based on the findings of our focus groups.

Creating policy and system changes to advance Black health

We know that social determinants of health have a much greater impact on health than clinical care. This means we can’t improve health outcomes for Black families simply by changing how we provide care within our walls. We need to advocate for policy changes in our organization and through the state legislature that positively impact pregnant individuals and infants, with a focus on advancing healthy equity for Black families. This will help families in our care and across our state for generations to come.

We’re supporting policy changes in the following ways:

  • Advocating for policies that ensure robust public health insurance coverage during pregnancy and after birth and improve access to care.
  • Advancing policies inside and outside our organization that help healthcare workers provide culturally and linguistically responsive care.
  • Educating team members about the impact of policies on health outcomes.

Improving patient-provider relations

Research shows that Black families get lower quality care than other racial and ethnic groups and that providers take Black patients’ concerns and pain less seriously. To address these findings, we collaborate with our patients, their families, community members and partners to provide care that respects the unique experience of Black families.

To improve the healthcare experience of Black families, we’re taking several steps:

  • Collaborating with the Center for Advancing Professional Excellence (CAPE) at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, to implement culturally responsive clinical and behavioral health training for our team members and providers. This simulated community course addresses the disproportionate rate of premature births and infant deaths experienced by Black parents and families. Congress, through a Health Resources and Services Administration grant, awarded the program $500,000 to continue the simulation series and expand it to resident physicians. More than 130 team members, providers and community advocates have completed live simulation training under this initiative.
  • Improving access to scheduling and support for community members through our Child Health Clinic, Young Mothers Clinic and the Black Mamas Circle.

If you're interested in taking part in our BHI-CAPE simulation training, please email us at:

By taking an honest look at Black families’ experiences, partnering with our community and addressing this issue on multiple fronts, we are proactively changing the health inequities Black families experience.

Kindred Mamas Mentorship Program

We're matching young Black mothers with women who have walked a similar path before them to improve the healthcare experience for Black families.

Learn more