SisterWeb Shines 2022-2023 Fiscal Year Impact Report

Building on our theme of woven textiles seen in our 2022-2027 Strategic Plan, "SisterWeb Shines" is expressed through a sawtooth star motif. A popular pattern in quilt making, we see it offering themes of connectedness, nurturement, and expansion. Each color in our star represents one of the ways SisterWeb shines (shown above), their unity demonstrates us advancing through these aspects.

Land Acknowledgment

SisterWeb acknowledges that it is located on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Ramaytush (“rah-my-toosh”) Ohlone peoples, and recognizes that, as the original stewards of this land, the Ramaytush Ohlone understood the interconnectedness of all things and maintained harmony with nature for millennia. SisterWeb honors the Ramaytush Ohlone peoples for their enduring commitment to Mother Earth.

SisterWeb also respectfully acknowledges the Ramaytush Ohlone, the original inhabitants of what is now the San Francisco Peninsula, and we further acknowledge that parts of the greater Bay Area are the ancestral territories of the Coastal Miwok, Yokuts, and Patwin, and other Ohlone peoples. Here in Visitacion Valley, it is the home of the Amuctac (ah-moosh-tac).

Indigenous communities have lived in and moved through this land over hundreds of generations and Indigenous peoples from many nations make their home in this region today. Please join us in recognizing and honoring their ancestors, descendants, elders, and all other members of their communities.

Letter from the Executive Director

When the idea of SisterWeb was conceived we had an ambitious, manifold goal. We wanted to reduce Black maternal mortality rates, ensure Black and Brown women had access to doula care, and ensure these women received these services by trusted members of their community.

I am proud to say with each year, we are getting closer and closer to achieving this once daunting goal.

As you’ll see in this report, we’ve had another stellar year. We are more than thrilled by the successful launch of our first-ever apprentice program, which is just one way we’re strengthening the doula workforce. Through this program we’re training community members as doulas, then giving them the confidence needed to become a doula who is ready to serve in their community.

We continue to move the needle in our other initiatives as well. We are increasing the number of women who count on our doulas for not only a safe and healthy birthing process, but for culturally-congruent care they simply wouldn’t receive elsewhere. Most importantly however, is how we’re serving some of our most vulnerable community members:

  • 68% of clients have public insurance
  • 35% of clients with current mental health concerns, as reported at intake
  • 18% of clients designated “Code Purple” (Code Purple = high risk, high need)
  • 61% of clients receive public benefits

We did all of this in spite of persistent challenges we face as a Black-led community-based non-profit organization in one of the most expensive cities in the country. Barriers ranging from child care, mental health, transportation and housing continue to test the resolve of our doulas and this organization. But even more trying are the funding challenges and limitations we endure. The bottom line is that we need unrestricted funding that supports our infrastructure and mode of working. Ours is an effective model that deeply meets the needs of our clients and positively impacts the communities we’re committed to serving.

Despite these challenges, I’m confident we’ll continue to achieve the goals we’ve set in our Strategic Plan. Moving forward, we’ll remain fearless by continuing to meet community needs, securing and diversifying our funding, and broadly sharing our work in hopes that our model will uplift communities across the entire country.

The past year has demonstrated that no goal is too lofty. We’ll get there and surpass our expectations I’m sure, but we will need each and every one of you to do so.

We hope you’ll join us.

In Community,

Marna Armstead

Our Vision, Mission, Values, and Goals

What do SisterWeb Doulas personally value about our organization? Let’s hear what they have to say. We asked them, “How does SisterWeb shine the most to you?”

SisterWeb Programs

Kindred Birth Companions

Kindred Birth Companions is a Doula program created by and for Black Doulas Black families in SF to support the Black family structure by empowering Black families to have safe, memorable, and joyous birthing experiences. Through awareness, education, and one-on-one support, we strive to remove “Black” as a risk factor for morbidity, boost family resiliency and positive parenting experiences, and create a vibrant community.

Semilla Sagrada

Semilla Sagrada is a direct service program created by Latinx Doulas of different nationalities to support Latinx families and birth workers in San Francisco. The care and support provided celebrates the unique stories of our clients and their loved ones, uplifts their culture and traditions, and serves as bridges of empowerment to help ensure Latinx families have memorable and dignified births full of joy.

Workforce Development

SisterWeb's Workforce Development Program promotes training awareness and facilitates the exchange of information regarding suitable training methods and materials that benefit SisterWeb and the overall local birthwork landscape. We provide staff with training opportunities in SisterWeb's Birth and Professional Core Competencies to ensure their success in SisterWeb and beyond. ​​Doulas and staff receive crucial support and ongoing coaching so that they have access to the appropriate guidance needed to provide exceptional care. Additionally, SisterWeb provides Doula mentors to help our Doulas identify their strengths and support systems and achieve their personal and professional goals.

Doula Apprentice Program

Initiated in 2022, SisterWeb's Doula Apprentice Program is committed to cultivating and developing potential SisterWeb Community Doulas. This program is designed to grow individuals through a series of core components to gain experience and/or complete their Doula certification process. SisterWeb's Doula Apprentice Program is four to six months long and includes on-the-job training, virtual learning assignments, access to ongoing mentorship, peer coaching, ongoing access to Professional and Birth Core Competencies, networking, and other avenues for learning during the apprenticeship period.

Champion Dyad Initiative

The Champion Dyad Initiative (CDI) is a quality improvement initiative that works towards ensuring that all birthing people of color receive respectful and equitable treatment during their births and pregnancies. CDI is an established long-term partnership between SisterWeb, four hospitals, and one independent birth center in San Francisco with maternal care systems where Black and Latinx mothers receive perinatal care.

CDI provides opportunities:

  • For bidirectional feedback between SisterWeb and maternal care providers
  • For Black and Latinx clients to give input about the hospital and the care they received
  • To integrate Doulas as core members of care teams and systems

Doula Program Data and Publications

SisterWeb believes that having a robust data process ensures that our programs and activities are effective and allows us to make adjustments according to the results. SisterWeb uses software that transforms valuable data from our Compyl documentation system directly into Scorecards where we can track our numbers and trends in real-time. Collecting data on all of our Doula programs allows us to monitor and assess our progress towards our 4 organizational goals.

Goal 1 Data Points:

  • Average amount that SisterWeb Doulas feel like SisterWeb is helping them achieve their professional goals = 8.76/10
  • % of Doulas who report that they feel that their mentors are there to help them identify their own goals, assess their resources, find solutions = 100%
  • Average level reported by SisterWeb Doulas of feeling supported and encouraged by their mentors = 9.7/10
  • Average level reported by SisterWeb Doulas who feel that their skills in birthwork are improving due to SisterWeb mentors = 9.2/10
  • Amount of one-on-one mentorship sessions held = 80
  • Amount of group mentorship sessions held = 46

2022/2023 SisterWeb Publication that supports our Goal 1 Data

This publication illustrates the wide variety of work that SisterWeb community doulas commit beyond direct client care. Their hard work and dedication deserves acknowledgment by means of professional support and appropriate compensation.

What, when, and how long? Doula time use in a community doula program in San Francisco, California

Goal 2 Data Points:

  • % of SisterWeb Clients who report that they felt understood by their Doula regarding specific challenges, strengths, and cultural considerations of their community = 100%
  • % of SisterWeb Clients who report that their SisterWeb Doulas helped them feel more confident navigating healthcare systems and understanding their rights and options = 95%
  • % of SW Clients who felt encouraged by their SisterWeb Doulas to use all of the resources available to them during pregnancy and early parenting = 100%
  • % of SW Clients who initiated breastfeeding at birth = 91.8%
  • • % of SW Clients who are breastfeeding at 6 weeks postpartum = 81.3%
  • % of SW Clients who said that SisterWeb Doulas helped them feel connected to their baby = 95%
  • % of SW Clients that would like to have a SisterWeb Doula should they get pregnant again = 95%
  • % of SW Clients that would someday like to help members of their community by becoming a community doula = 82.9%

2022-2023 SisterWeb Publication that Supports our Goal 2 Data

This publication explores Black and Pacific Islander Doula clients’ motivations for seeking Doula care and their experiences with our community Doula programs.

"They’re gonna be there to advocate for me so I’m not by myself”: A qualitative analysis of Black women’s motivations for seeking and experiences with community doula care

Goal 3 Data Points:

  • 5 Total Champion Dyad Initiative participating hospitals and birth centers
  • 39 Champion Dyad Initiative meetings held between medical representatives and SisterWeb
  • 252 Referrals in total made from all Champion Dyad Initiative sites to SisterWeb
  • % average of SisterWeb clients' level of feeling supported, heard, and respected by their medical providers during their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum with Doula support = 88% (8.8/10)

2022-2023 SisterWeb Publication that Supports our Goal 3 Data

SisterWeb’s Champion Dyad Initiative program is an initiative that was created to promote advocacy for our clients and Doulas within their birthing spaces. This publication highlights how the Doula’s presence inspires health practitioners to provide equitable and quality care for their birthing patients.

“An extra layer of pressure to be my best self”: Healthcare provider perspectives on how doulas foster accountability and bridge gaps in pregnancy-related care

Goal 4 Data Points:

  • We currently have 8 full time Doulas who are fully benefited
  • 6 with Kindred Birth Companions
  • 2 with Semilla Sagrada
  • Average amount that SW staff who report that their voice is supported and heard at SisterWeb = 9.17/10
  • In 2021/2022 we hired 3 full time Doulas, in 2022/2023 we hired 4 full time Doulas

2022-2023 SisterWeb Publication that Supports our Goal 4 Data

SisterWeb continues to partner with allied researchers and advocates to elevate the need for respectfully funded Community Doula organizations and programs. We recently contributed to a policy brief that promotes sustainable public funding for the Doula profession.

Getting Doulas Paid: Advancing Community-Based Doula Models in Medicaid Reimbursement Conversations

SisterWeb Community Clients

Client Photovoice Project

SisterWeb Intern, Dulce, led a Photovoice Project with SisterWeb clients and then presented the qualitative, client-centered data in a creative and tangible way. Clients expressed their birthing experience with SisterWeb Doulas through quotes and pictures that were then sewn into a quilt where the client data could be interpreted in a way that engages multiple senses.

Client Quote

"Every time I would see them, I would almost cry. I am very thankful for the emotional and psychological support they provided me as it was very helpful. The work they do shows respect and love, and sometimes as human beings that's all we need at that moment."

-SisterWeb Semilla Sagrada Client 2022

Client Quote:

"She [doula] was such a great support to me. She encouraged me and would tell me to go out for a walk, to do things. I feel like people like her are such a great support for people like us that migrated to this country and live alone."

-SisterWeb Semilla Sagrada Client 2022

Client Quote

"She [doula] made me feel really comfortable. She made me feel really secure, and I literally always say the only way I'm gonna have another baby is if I get the same doula. I was very happy."

-SisterWeb Kindred Birth Companions Client 2022

See the full photo voice project at the button below.

Who Are Our SisterWeb Doulas

We asked our Doulas to tell us their greatest victories from working with SisterWeb this year. These were their responses:

From Client to SisterWeb Doula: Shanee's Story

it was the most magical moment in my life that I will forever cherish.

“Hello, my name is Shanee Jones. I decided to work with SisterWeb as a doula because of the amazing services they offer. These services can be beneficial to many mothers who need the extra support and knowledge to learn about their rights during the birthing process that can be a very scary and nervous time. My first experience with SisterWeb was as a client. SisterWeb uplifted me during such a stressful and challenging situation in my life due to being considered a high risk pregnancy. My doula, Azraa, made me feel calm and relaxed enough to trust the whole process of giving birth. By reassuring me that this was temporary and “You got this. You’re doing a wonderful job.” Beautiful affirmations and encouragement helped me build a calm and grounded energy to focus on the importance of getting my baby girl out and healthy. Overall, it was the most magical moment in my life that I will forever cherish."

Moments That Shine

Description: A community event that takes place every month in the Bayview. The Pregnancy Pop-Up Village welcomes families, pregnant people, and all interested in celebrating community, engaging in self-care, and gathering valuable resources and services.

Description: Initiated in June 2023 by Kindred Birth Companion Doulas for Black birthing people in San Francisco in pursuit of building community support.

Description: The Birth and Beyond summit was an opportunity for SisterWeb to share knowledge and wisdom with community doula organizations and birth workers across the country. We also had the opportunity to be in community with stakeholders from the policy-making space, academia, and public health and engage in discussions aimed at closing the gap between policies and the individuals affected by them.

Description: SisterWeb helped convene a collective of community-based doulas to build a data consortium providing evidence-based policy recommendations regarding doula work. The goal of the consortium is to share data points that can accurately describe the efficacy and work of community-based Doulas for policymakers and funders as they discuss reimbursement, certification requirements, etc.

Conferences attended: HRSA, Innovations in Medicaid, Ancient Song gathering in NYC, Innovation Hub

Honesty About Our Challenges & Vision of What’s Ahead

We asked our SisterWeb Doulas to tell us their greatest challenges from this year. These were their responses:

We asked our SisterWeb Founders to tell us their greatest challenges from this year. These were the responses.

How do we work to overcome our challenges?

  • Strong teamwork and community support
  • Extensive evaluation of our programs so we know what works and what doesn't
  • Increasing the amount of Doulas who can work full time with full benefits
  • Providing ongoing mentorship to Doulas
  • Providing transportation services to our clients and Doulas
  • Building financial sustainability by diversifying our funding sources

The Team-SisterWeb Shining Stars

  • Aimee Mancha, Community Resource Coordinator
  • Alli Cuentos, Director of Evaluations and Co-Founder
  • Asatu Hall, Mentor
  • Azraa Muhammad, Kindred Doula
  • Bria Donaldson, Kindred Birth Companions Doula Coordinator
  • Deundra Hundon, Workforce Development Director and Leadership Circle
  • Fatima Oliver, Kindred Doula
  • Hamdia Sharif, Kindred Doula
  • Jae Phillips, Virtual Executive Assistant
  • Jason McMonagle, Development Consultant
  • Jaya Pruitt, Kindred Doula
  • Ke'xia Draper, Kindred Doula
  • Laura Perez, Birth Core Competency Trainer
  • Marlee-I Mystic, Director of Doula Programs
  • Marna Armstead, Executive Director and Co-Founder
  • Noemi Delgado, Semilla Sagrada Doula
  • Patty Rodriguez, Operations Director
  • Shanee Jones, Kindred Doula
  • Sofía Carbone, Communications Coordinator
  • Sonia Lizama, Semilla Sagrada Doula
  • Vanessa Castro, Semilla Sagrada Doula Coordinator

Community and Corporate Partners and Allies

We'd like to extend our deep thanks to our Funders and organizational partners:

  • Bayview SOL
  • Birth Matters
  • Black To the Future (BTTF)
  • Blue Shield
  • Board of Supervisors (Supervisor Office D10)
  • Clear Impact
  • DPH
  • Every Mother Counts
  • Flora Foundation
  • Health Connect One
  • Hellman Foundation
  • HIVE/Team Lily
  • IPP
  • Jospeh & Vera Long Foundation
  • Kaiser Permanente SF (non-CDI related grant)
  • LISC/Uber
  • Merck
  • Respect Initiative / Pregnancy Pop Up Village
  • SDDT
  • SF Birth Center
  • Solid Start
  • Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative
  • UC Berkeley
  • UCSF Mission Bay
  • ZSFG

And the Champion Dyad Initiative Participating Labor and Delivery Sites

  • CPMC - Mission Bernal
  • Kaiser San Francisco
  • San Francisco Birth Center
  • USCF at Mission Bay
  • Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital

Funding, Finances, and Donor Appreciation

Our heartfelt thanks to the following individuals and families for their contribution to SisterWeb

  • Abigail Stopper
  • Alana Diamos
  • Alexis Sturdy
  • Alison Hamburg
  • Amy Benedetto
  • Amy Zelezen
  • Beth Rees
  • Briann McCoy
  • Brianna Green
  • Carmen N-Guerrero
  • Christina Markle DeCoudres
  • Claire Zimmer
  • Cynthia Lum
  • Dan Nissenbaum
  • Davida Silverman
  • Emelyn Bluhm
  • Emily Barrett
  • Erica Gross
  • Hannah Addario-Berry
  • Jenna Lewis
  • Jennifer Darwin
  • Jessica Rix
  • Jessie Pearson
  • Kaitlin and Peter Levenstrong
  • Kathleen Hawkins
  • Katie Seifert
  • Kiran Nigam
  • Lesly Simmons
  • Lia Faaleava
  • Madeline Oden
  • Madison Smith
  • Marna Armstead
  • Mary Fitzpatrick
  • Michael Nuttall
  • Michelle Mak
  • Monnie Efross
  • Nora Houseman
  • Patricia Rodriguez
  • Rachael Arreguin
  • Raissa Trend
  • Robin Fragner
  • Sara Van Acker and Adam Weiss
  • Shannon Padlog
  • Zan Armstrong

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