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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - January 12, 2022

National Black Child Development Institute and Affiliates in Cleveland and Milwaukee Awarded $800,000 from Pritzker Family Foundation to Support Prenatal-to-Three Policies for Black Children and Families.

Silver Spring, Maryland—The National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI), one of the only national organizations dedicated exclusively to the success and wellbeing of Black children and families, announced today that it and two of its affiliates, Black Child Development Institute-Cleveland Affiliate (BCDI-Cleveland) and Black Child Development Institute-Milwaukee Affiliate (BCDI-Milwaukee), are receiving grants totaling $800,000 from the Pritzker Family Foundation to strengthen their capacity to advance policy priorities that reflect the realities of structural racism and the post-2020 strengths and needs of Black children and families arising out of the pandemic. In all, the grants will support the work of five affiliates of NBCDI.

NBCDI has a 50-year track record of highlighting and defining policy solutions that improve the lives of Black children and families. Through its National Affiliate Network of volunteer-driven networks in over 25 cities, including Cleveland and Milwaukee, NBCDI and its affiliates advocate for and support policies and programs that improve the early care, education, health, literacy and family engagement of Black children and families at the state and national levels. NBCDI recently released the National Black Child Agenda, which identifies critical policy priorities needed to honor, uphold and protect the full human rights of Black children and families, including addressing disparate rates of Black infant and maternal mortality and promoting their economic security, wealth generation, mental health and educational achievement.

“At this critical time in our nation when Black children and families face triple threats from the pandemic, economic hardship, and structural racism, we are grateful to Pritzker Family Foundation for this grant which will support NBCDI’s ability to cohesively advance policy priorities at the state and local level with five of our local affiliates, including BCDI-Cleveland and BCDI-Milwaukee, both of which are working with communities and policymakers to combat high rates of Black infant and maternal mortality, promote economic mobility, and expand culturally-affirming early childhood programs and supports,” said Dr. Leah Austin, President and CEO of NBCDI.

In 2019, NBCDI, in partnership with BCDI-Cleveland, released the State of Black Child Report Card for Ohio which highlighted that black babies in Ohio are three times more likely to die in their first year of life than white babies. “BCDI-Cleveland was instrumental in getting racism declared a public health crisis in Ohio. This funding will help us hire staff to work with communities and policymakers to match that declaration with key actions and policies that reduce Black infant and maternal mortality and promote the early care, education, health and wellbeing of Black babies, children and families,” said Gloria Blevins, President, BCDI-Cleveland Affiliate.

Similar to Ohio, Wisconsin’s Black infant mortality rate ranks among the highest in the nation, with Black babies twice as likely to die before their first birthday than white babies. According to a recent March of Dimes Report, Milwaukee’s Black infant mortality rate is the worst in the state of Wisconsin, garnering it an overall rating of “F.” In 2013, BCDI-Milwaukee published the groundbreaking report, Being Black is Not a Risk Factor: Statistics and Strengths-Based Solutions in the State of Wisconsin, which explored the strengths and needs of Black children. “This funding will allow us to hire staff to work across coalitions and with federal, state and local leaders to bring all of our energy to bear to save Black babies. Because of our longstanding history, policy expertise, and trust within the Black community, we are uniquely-positioned to take a leading role in advancing policies that address Black infant and maternal mortality in Wisconsin that can serve as a model for other cities and states,” said Wanda Montgomery, Founding Member and Interim Executive Director of BCDI-Milwaukee.

“We are thrilled to support the work of NBCDI and its affiliates, BCDI-Cleveland and BCDI-Milwaukee during this critical time when our nation’s parents, infants and families must be a priority. These capacity-building grants are part of our commitment to support Black-led organizations uniquely-positioned to advance prenatal-to-three policies that redress racial marginalization and promote positive outcomes for Black children and families,” said Gerry Cobb, Director of the Foundation’s Pritzker Children’s Initiative.

National Black Child Development Institute is a national organization with extensive networks of state and locally-based advocates dedicated to achieving positive outcomes for Black children and families suffering from poverty and racial discrimination. NBCDI develops strength-based, culturally-relevant resources that respond to the unique strengths and needs of Black children and their families from birth through age 8. For more information, visit

Black Child Development Institute-Cleveland Affiliate, formed in 2017, BCDI-Cleveland, an affiliate of the National Black Child Development Institute, has been at the forefront of advancing policies and programs supporting the early care and education, health and economic security of Black children and families in Cleveland and Ohio. For more information, visit or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Black Child Development Institute-Milwaukee Affiliate, formed in 1997, BCDI-Milwaukee, an affiliate of the National Black Child Development Institute, works in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin to improve the quality of life for Black Children and families through education and advocacy. For more information about BCDI-Milwaukee, visit or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

The Pritzker Family Foundation and the Pritzker Children’s Initiative

The Pritzker Family Foundation was founded in 2001 by J.B. and M.K. Pritzker with a commitment to and a focus on social and economic justice and equity. Each area of focus for the foundation was chosen because of enormous inequities in those systems and a deep desire to create more just and equitable outcomes. The Foundation focuses its grantmaking in three areas: early childhood, community health, and civil and human rights.

Through its Pritzker Children’s Initiative, the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation has been a champion of early learning and development with a focus on the period beginning prenatally to age three. The Pritzker Children’s Initiative seeks to expand equitable access to and participation in high-quality services for infants, toddlers, and their families across the United States.