CelebrateOne, United Health Foundation to Expand Program Focused on Reducing Infant Mortality Rates

February 18, 2016
  • $1.7 million grant by United Health Foundation will fund training and deployment of 72 Community Health Workers to educate mothers to-be, mothers and their families

  • Grant part of “Better Health in Local Communities” effort to improve health outcomes

Columbus Public Health, in support of CelebrateOne, will add 72 new community health workers to conduct outreach to women of childbearing age to help reduce infant mortality in eight Columbus communities, funded by a $1.7 million partnership grant from United Health Foundation.

The grant will help address a critical public health need in Ohio. According to United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings®, Ohio ranks 44th in the nation in infant mortality, with more than seven infant deaths before the age of one for every 1,000 live births.

“CelebrateOne is committed to the idea that the greatest gift our community can give each baby is a healthy and safe first year of life, setting him or her on a path to thrive each year beyond that,” said Liane Egle, director, CelebrateOne. “This grant from United Health Foundation is critical because the training and community building will have lasting and positive effects on these families the program reaches.”

Collaboration Will Bolster Community-based Caregivers to Engage Moms and Moms-to-Be

CelebrateOne is a community-engagement initiative led by Columbus Public Health and the Greater Columbus Mortality Task Force to reduce infant mortality by 40 percent and halve the racial health disparity gap by 2020.

United Health Foundation’s grant over the next three years will enable 72 Community Health Workers to receive training, helping expand the number of community-based caregivers that are able to conduct outreach, build trust, and reduce barriers to care to help reduce the risk for increased rates of chronic morbidity and infant mortality.

The goal is for the trained Community Health Workers to reach 27,000 women each year through the program in the Columbus communities of Linden, Near South Side, Near East Side, Hilltop, Franklinton, Morse Rd-161, the Northeast and Southeast. The Community Health Workers will receive paid internships with CelebrateOne and work in the targeted Columbus communities. Combined, these eight communities account for 42 percent of all Franklin County infant deaths, but make up only 29 percent of all Franklin County births.

“Celebrating a baby’s first birthday is always a meaningful milestone, and in our community it is an especially critical one,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther. “Thanks to partners like United Health Foundation, CelebrateOne is reaching out and connecting more women with preventive, prenatal and well-baby care, which is essential to ending the infant mortality epidemic Columbus faces.”

“These types of collaborative, innovative community-based initiatives are important to improving health outcomes in communities across the nation, including right here in Columbus,” said Tracy Davidson, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Ohio. “Connecting moms and moms-to-be with trained health workers in their communities and resources that can make a difference in their lives will help these babies and their moms live healthier lives.”

“I would like to thank United Health Foundation and CelebrateOne for their work to help moms, expectant mothers and infants access the resources and care they need. As a father of four daughters, I am grateful for their efforts to help our community thrive with healthier babies and stronger families,” said Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-OH).

“The partnership between Columbus Public Health and United Health Foundation is exactly the type of collaborative approach we need to tackle our toughest health care challenges,” said Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH). “By focusing on initiatives like CelebrateOne, this public-private partnership will help community members live better lives and keep our most precious resource, our children, safe and healthy.”

“Today’s announcement is excellent news for countless area families, and illustrates United Health Foundation’s and CelebrateOne’s commitment to ensuring every child has the opportunity to celebrate life’s many milestones,” said Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH). “I have seen the heartache of so many parents and future parents in our community. No mom or dad should ever have to experience the gut-wrenching loss of a child.”

Tackling a Serious Public Health Crisis at the Local Level

With Ohio having one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the nation, taking steps to address this public health crisis is critical to improving people’s health in Columbus. Columbus Public Health statistics show that in Franklin County alone, approximately 150 babies die each year before reaching the age of one.

CelebrateOne, in collaboration with United Health Foundation, will bolster the Community Connector Corp, which seeks to increase the number of women of childbearing age connected to health and social support within their communities and social networks. The program has engaged thousands of women and families at health fairs, churches, community centers, civic meetings and support groups.

Lillie Banner, who is part of the Community Connector Corp in the South Side, Reeb-Hosack neighborhood of Columbus, said: “This type of program will have a lasting impact as we reach out to families door to door, face to face and within their neighborhoods. The response we’ve seen from participants is overwhelmingly positive and life-changing. This collaboration with United Health Foundation will mean even more women and their babies will be stronger, healthier and happier.”

The grant was announced at a community birthday party and educational resource fair at the Reeb Avenue Center where Mayor Ginther joined community leaders, including John McCarthy, director Ohio Department of Medicaid, Teresa Long, Columbus Public Health commissioner, Priscilla Tyson, president pro tem, Columbus City Council, John O’Grady, president, Franklin County Board of Commissioners, State Sen. Jim Hughes, State Representatives Hearcel Craig, Cheryl Grossman and Dave Leland, Sue Wolf, community leader, and current and former CelebrateOne participants, project partners and families to celebrate the first year of the program, its early success and the new funding to expand the program’s reach.

Several project partners were recognized for their ongoing support for the program, including the Ohio State University College of Nursing, Community Development for All People, Men 4 the Movement, J. Jireh Ministries, Partner for Achieving Community Transformation (PACT), The Neighborhood House, St. Stephen’s Community House, Gladden Community House, YMCA, Somalican, Central Ohio Workforce Investment Corporation and Columbus Neighborhood Pride Centers.

About CelebrateOne

In June 2014, the Greater Columbus Infant Mortality Task Force ended its 6-month process with the release of its final report to the residents of Franklin County. In it were eight recommendations to reduce the community’s alarming infant mortality rate by 40 percent and cut the racial health disparity gap in half by 2020. CelebrateOne was created in November 2014 to carry out the Task Force’s recommendations and ensure Franklin County meets its ambitious goal. Learn more at

About Columbus Public Health

The department is charged with assuring conditions in which people can be healthy. Columbus Public Health is made up of a range of programs providing clinical, environmental, health promotion, and population-based services. The department has an annual budget of approximately $50 million and is staffed by 400 full-and part-time employees.  Learn more at

About United Health Foundation

Through collaboration with community partners, grants and outreach efforts, United Health Foundation works to improve our health system, build a diverse and dynamic health workforce and enhance the well-being of local communities. United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and health care. To date, United Health Foundation has committed more than $285 million to programs and communities around the world. We invite you to learn more at or follow @UHGGives on Twitter or


* Source: 2007-2012 Ohio Department of Health Vital Statistics Data Analyzed by Columbus Public Health