Sunday, 01 August 2021

$30,000 grant drives pregnancy center start-ups across the U.S.

In the last year, six pregnancy center start-ups have been catapulted forward in their efforts to save lives, all thanks to a $30,000 grant awarded through Heartbeat International. 

The grant, known as Life Launch, was initiated last summer to inspire a new season of pregnancy help center start-ups in under-served parts of the country. From Juneau, Alaska, to Lyndonville, Vermont, the program is already spanning the country in its effort to make a lasting impact on local communities.

“They’re all in such different areas of the country, they serve such different clientele,” said Sara Littlefield, Life Launch Grant Program Specialist for Heartbeat, reflecting on the inaugural fleet of centers. “Their services might look different, but their hearts are all in the same place.”

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Already, the Juneau Pregnancy Resource Center has welcomed its first baby born since opening its doors this February. Meanwhile, nearly 4,000 miles away in Texas, the Pregnancy Help Center of Galveston is realizing a major dream as it transitions to a medical clinic that offers obstetrical ultrasound scans in addition to its other services.

“It’s really amazing to see how they’re growing,” Littlefield said. “To see their growth and their vision stretching into new services and to see that come to fruition—to see them actually doing it, that’s exciting.”

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In addition to expanded services, Julie Johnson, executive director of the Galveston center, has been able to utilize some of Heartbeat’s expertise to advance the operations of her pro-life non-profit. 

Because part of the Life Launch Grant includes $10,000 in Heartbeat International training resources and services, she was able to bring Cindi Boston, vice president of Heartbeat International, to the island to facilitate an onsite board consultation this year.

“That allowed us to put so many things into play,” she told Heartbeat staff at Pregnancy Help Institute this summer. “She gave us valuable tools for our board to be able to move forward as a team in the same direction with a vision.”

Boston’s efforts in Galveston were just one part of the $30,000 in funding and resources provided by Life Launch. Following a matching grant format, the Life Launch Grant Program offers:

  • $10,000 in Heartbeat International training resources and services
  • $15,000 in funds granted once $30,000 is raised by the center within the first year
  • $5,000 in funds after one year and completed legal review

In addition to the training offered by Heartbeat experts like Boston, Life Launch recipients have access to resources such as Heartbeat International’s Pregnancy Help Starter Kit, fundraising webinars, and two years’ worth of web services.

“It’s such a team effort with Life Launch because of the fact that we’re bringing in a variety of resources,” said Littlefield. “(Centers are) getting connected with the (Heartbeat) team(s) at Extend, they’re getting connected with the team at NextLevel, they’re receiving training through Academy, and  they’re certainly getting support from the whole Ministry Services team just by becoming (Heartbeat) affiliates themselves. Having all of these different teams involved with these centers and coming around each organization from all of these different angles to provide support as needed speaks volumes to who Heartbeat is as a whole.”

For Johnson, that support has been majorly impactful.

“Galveston is grateful—our community is grateful for Heartbeat and all that you have invested into our community to make a difference to change lives, not just one mom and one baby, but families and generations,” Johnson said.

A Growing Fleet: 2019 Application Window Now Open

With three of the first Life Launch centers open, two set to open this fall, and one set to open Mother’s Day next year, Littlefield and the rest of the Heartbeat team are now turning their eyes to this year’s set of applicants, hoping to expand the number of centers accepted into the program for the coming year.

The application window, which opened September 1, is set to close on October 31. New, unopened pregnancy help centers are eligible for the Life Launch Grant. In some select cases, centers that are no more than six months old prior to applying may be eligible for the grant as well. 

Additionally, the Heartbeat team is looking for centers that plan to locate in under-served or targeted parts of the U.S.—communities where there are no pregnancy help centers, where another center is needed to meet the population’s needs, or where abortion facilities have targeted the population. 

To be considered for the Life Launch Grant, hopeful pregnancy centers first must take an online assessment to see whether they qualify to apply. Individuals interested in taking the assessment can do so at any time.

Those who pass the assessment will be invited to complete the formal application process, ending October 31.

Now, looking back at the past year and ahead to the coming one, Littlefield is eager to continue supporting centers in their efforts to save lives and rescue families across the country.

“It just makes sense to be supporting centers in this way,” she said. “Especially having so many different sources of expertise and resources that we can utilize to support these centers. To be able to take the answers that we’ve been crafting over the years and the expertise that we’ve been gathering over the years, and to showcase that with these centers, is really an exciting thing to do. I just love being a part of the Life Launch Grant Program and the Heartbeat team as a whole as we bring the Life Launch vision to life.”

Katie Franklin

Katie Franklin is a writer for Heartbeat International. She previously served as director of communications for Ohio Right to Life and is a graduate of Denison University where she earned a B.A. in history in 2013. Katie lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Miles and their daughter.

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