Volunteers in masks handing out supplies at a testing site in West Fresno

Fresno GROWS
(Growing Real Opportunities in West Fresno),
A Best Babies Zone

At the core, Fresno GROWS seeks to implement an anti-racism agenda that has the potential to achieve community transformation and improve birth outcomes. The Zone will prioritize interventions that address a wide range of upstream and downstream social determinants and that improve the care and support of African American women and families across the reproductive life course.

Fresno GROWS also aims to improve birth outcomes for African American families by working with residents and community-based partners to transform a historically disinvested neighborhood into one of health and economic vibrancy. Follow Fresno GROWS on Facebook. 


Fresno GROWS will support and sustain an African American-led, community-centered hub at the West Fresno Family Resource Center (WFFRC), which:

  • has served residents that live in the Zone since 2001.
  • serves more than 5,000 persons annually 
  • has a long legacy of grassroots advocacy
  • is trusted source of neighborhood services

Supported by the Zone’s anchor institutions, the Center will:

• Sustain an infrastructure to:

  1. communicate regularly with Fresno GROWS residents;
  2. devise a policy and systems change agenda, grounded in research;
  3. build the capacity of the West Fresno workforce, and
  4. and organize community members to advance the work

• Foster innovation and program improvements informed by community wisdom

• Advocate for interventions across the life course that build upon intergenerational connections and increase social capital in the communities of West Fresno. 

Black Maternal Wellness Innovation Lab

The Black Maternal Wellness Innovation Lab (BMWIL) is a training program created to address the Black premature birth epidemic in Fresno County, which has the second-highest number of premature births in California. We are proud to fund BMWIL through our Collective Impact partner in SouthWest Fresno along First 5 Fresno County and Fresno Economics Opportunity Commission.

BMWIL uses Human-Centered Design (HCD) to empower and develop birth justice advocates and is the brainchild of founder Sabrina Kelley, a Fresno native and advocacy expert. 

Over the course of the nine-week program, participants learn to cope with the internal and external stressors contributing to adverse birth outcomes and channel their experiences into advocacy. Participants work in teams to utilized Theory of Change and Racism as a Root Cause of Preterm Birth frameworks to co-create new interventions with their community.  

Group Photo

Celebrating Recent Graduates

In July of 2021, six participants graduated from the program: Heaven Smith, Jasmine Kirsh, Keishell Williams, Mastawal Abebe, Subira Shabazz, Simone Allen and Trinesha McFarland (Pictured below. Not Pictured Simone Allen). These graduates are now the newest birth justice advocates of Fresno. 

"We are actively listening and co-creating with the community efforts. [We are] designing for the people and not the problem. Spending time with the community really listening to them about the program. Using workable and personalized data-driven solutions instead of accepting existing solutions, accepting new ideas — not throwing away ideas until we test them" - Mastawel Abebe, Program Graduate