Transforming Tomorrow: Investing in Black Women for the Long-Term


Welcome to the first edition of a three-part mini-series titled Transforming Tomorrow!

Transforming Tomorrow highlights Groundswell’s long-term grantee organizations that have been instrumental in advancing reproductive justice solutions rooted in racial, economic, trans, and immigrant justice.

Photo courtesy of Black Women for Wellness


This first edition highlights a ten-year grantee, Black Women for Wellness (BWW). BWW has supported Black women and girls for over 20 years through policy advocacy, political education, community organizing, and voter engagement across California. In 2017, the organization launched its c4 arm, Black Women for Wellness Action Project, as part of Groundswell Action Fund’s inaugural grantees.

Organizations led by Black women, like BWW, possess invaluable knowledge and lived experiences that can liberate our communities. They push the work forward and center communities most impacted by reproductive health disparities and barriers to reproductive freedom.

Yet, they are significantly underfunded, receiving a mere 0.5 percent of annual philanthropic donations. The recent Supreme Court decision to strike down affirmative action has intensified this issue, with conservatives already pushing to halt funding to women of color-led organizations that prioritize BIPOC communities.

In these continually unprecedented times, we urge philanthropy to support women of color-led organizations as they defend our democracy and bodily autonomy and provide long-term investment to organizations like BWW. These investments are crucial for ensuring the sustained impact of reproductive justice movements and their ability to serve the communities they represent across generations.

Hear from BWW’s Co-Founder Janette Robinson-Flint to learn more about the power of long-term funding and BWW’s wins, challenges, and insights on the ground.

Donors and funders must continue supporting racial and social justice organizations. They must provide resources that build capacity, encourage risk, forgive mistakes, and celebrate small wins and milestones. Janette Robinson Flint
Executive Director


Black Women for Wellness. Second from left, Co-Founder Janette Robinson-Flint


Q: How has Groundswell’s support helped shape your organization over the past 10 years?

A: Over the past decade, Groundswell’s support has transformed Black Women for Wellness (BWW). Groundswell’s funding has bolstered our civic engagement program, provided rapid response aid, and expanded our overall capacity. Specifically, Groundswell’s capacity-building funding has enhanced our communications strategies and youth engagement, advancing our priorities and amplifying the voices of Black women and girls.

In 2017, BWW saw the need to intensify advocacy for reproductive rights and justice, leading to the creation of Black Women for Wellness Action Project. This initiative focuses on advancing policy, electing leaders who prioritize Black women, shifting culture through media, and empowering community members. Groundswell Action Fund enabled Black Women for Wellness Action Project to rapidly impact policy, endorse candidates, and hold leaders accountable.

Q: What are some significant wins BWW has accomplished over the last decade?

A: We have achieved many victories in the last decade to secure and sustain reproductive rights for our communities. A few that stand out are:

  • Leading a coalition to pass The California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act in 2019, improving Black maternal health through implicit bias training and enhanced data collection.
  • Working with organizers as part of the #DefundthePolice movement, resulting in the LA City Council passing legislation to redirect $150 million from its police budget to Black communities, conducting one of the largest Black Census outreach campaigns in California.
  • Achieving a landmark victory for Black Women for Wellness Action Project in 2021 by helping to introduce the California Momnibus Act, which includes doula coverage for Medicare recipients and expanded access to midwifery services. It also requires the state to close the racial maternal and infant mortality gap.
  • Playing a vital role in the California Future of Abortion Council through Black Women for Wellness Action Project in 2022 to help secure a 15-bill legislative package for reproductive freedom and $200 million in funding. Our efforts also contributed to the passage of Proposition 1, enshrining abortion and contraceptive access in California’s constitution.
Photo courtesy of Black Women for Wellness

Q: The term reproductive justice is celebrating its 30th anniversary. What is your vision for RJ in the next 30 years?

A: First, we need to address the ingrained racism, sexism, and misogyny in our systems. It’s not about the tools we use; the system must be changed. Let’s get rid of the current system and create something new.

While building this new system, we should also open up the pipeline of healthcare providers. We need more midwives, doulas, health educators, nurse practitioners, and frontline staff who reflect our culture and experiences. This will improve the navigation of perinatal healthcare.

Additionally, no one should go to medical visits alone. Always have an advocate— a family member, friend, or partner—who can help listen, intervene, and ask questions. This person acts as your advocate, helping you navigate a system filled with racism and misogyny.

Claim your power in healthcare. Be an active participant by asking questions, seeking education, and speaking up if something doesn’t feel right. This ensures you get the care you need and are heard.

Q: What major struggle or roadblock have you faced during the past year that is important for donors and funders to understand?

Reproductive justice has been a constant news item over the past year. Unfortunately, the social justice momentum from George Floyd’s murder has faded, leading to increased backlash and lawsuits against racially focused programs. Many donors and foundations are now hesitant to fund efforts addressing racial inequities.

At Black Women for Wellness, our challenge is to stay the course, secure funding, and keep informing and engaging our communities despite the country’s growing divide. The backlash makes it difficult to show progress and remind people we are making strides.

Donors and funders must continue supporting racial and social justice organizations. They must provide resources that build capacity, encourage risk, forgive mistakes, and celebrate small wins and milestones.

Finally, let’s bring back the naturalness and joy of giving birth. Birth should be a family event, not a medical procedure. I want to see births move away from hospitals to homes and birthing centers, where it can be a celebration of life designed by the pregnant person with art, music, and supportive people, free from medical constraints.


Image courtesy of Black Women for Wellness


As an intermediary, Groundswell is a leader in strategically moving resources to grassroots organizations within the Reproductive Justice Movement and other major social movements across the U.S. We act as a bridge between donors, foundations, and grassroots organizations, bringing alignment around issues.

In July, the second edition of Transforming Tomorrow will feature long-term Groundswell grantee Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR). COLOR is a grassroots organization building a base of Latina advocates committed to reproductive justice in Colorado.

We are excited to share more insights on COLOR’s work. Stay tuned!