Policy Research


With the right data in the right people’s hands, we hope to create a window of opportunity for change.


PTBi staff and partners at housing policy hearing

About our Policy Core

We believe that structural changes through policy action are an important way to create sustainable improvements in birth outcomes for women of color and specifically Black women. Our Policy Core was developed with this in mind and is comprised of a diverse network of researchers, parents, lactation consultants, doulas, nurses, doctors, community practitioners, public servants who are calling for change.

Pictured: PTBi staff with representatives from community partner organizations at SF City Hall housing hearing (2019). 

How can the PTBi-CA Policy Core contribute to policy?

1. Conduct policy-focused research
2. Partner with organizations in coalitions that are advocating for policy change
3. Educate policymakers about scientific evidence, generated within and outside of PTBi
4. Support policy efforts undertaken by the collective impact coalitions we support

By working with policymakers, we aim to spotlight the broken systems that limit access to essential resources for Black and Brown birthing communities to thrive. With the right data in the right people’s hands, we hope to create a window of opportunity for change. 

Shanell Williams presenting at city hall hearing on housing

Pictured: Community Engagement Director, Shanell Williams, speaking at housing policy hearing (2019)


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Policy Core Principles and Values

At the center of all the work we do is a deep respect for the voices and wisdom of those with lived experience. Our core principles and values include:

Kim coleman-phox with equity matters poster at a rally

Pictured: Kim Coleman-Phox at PTBi's 2017 symposium rally at SF city hall

• Prioritize research that is actionable, timely, and responsive to communities most impacted

• Be transparent on activities, priorities and roles

• Adopt a place-based approach

• Utilize storytelling

• Uphold authentic community partnership Communicate our work and priorities to a broad array of stakeholders

• Address upstream factors

• Build the capacity of community members to drive research and policy activities

• Be responsive to opportunities to educate and inform policy

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Programs that Drive Policy Change

In addition to our policy research, we support coalitions that are driving policy change. In San Francisco, we are supporting Expecting Justice, and in Fresno, we are supporting Fresno Grows and the Black Maternal Wellness Lab.

Central to our work is community-based participatory research (CBPR) that allows us to identify priorities for policy change in communities that have been directly affected. In 2016, we launched the Benioff Community Innovator program in San Francisco who conducted research that led to the policy recommendation to prioritize homeless pregnant women for emergency housing support prior to their third trimester. In 2020, we launched our second cohort of Benioff Community Innovators in Oakland.  

Issue Briefing in SacramentoPictured: Representatives from PTBi, Expecting Justice and ANSIRH in Sacramento presenting an issue briefing to policymakers (2018).


First 5 Center for Children's Policy

Partnership with First 5

First 5 Center for Children’s Policy and PTBi are collaborating to identify best practices and promising solutions to improve maternal and infant health outcomes for Black families in California, with a particular focus on infant mortality and maternal morbidity. The purpose of this project is to design short- and long-term strategies at county and state levels to improve birth outcomes for California’s Black families. 

California Coalition for Black Birth Justice

In partnership with Cherished Futures for Black Moms & Babies, the California Coalition for Black Birth Justice serves as an intentional space for Black women to share key knowledge, strategize on various approaches, and co-create solutions for transformational change. After a year of building capacity, engaging community members, and identifying strategies to improve perinatal and infant outcomes, the Coalition will release a Black Birth Justice Agenda outlining recommendations, policy actions, and alignment opportunities to advance Black birth justice in California.

Learn More

Human Milk Feeding in the City and County of San Francisco

The California Preterm Birth Initiative produced an analysis of breastfeeding for the San Francisco Department of Public Health in order to guide stakeholders toward better practices and policies.

Learn more about the Landscape analysis

Housing Insecurity and Obstetric Racism

In 2020, we identified PTBi's top two policy priorities as housing insecurity and disrespectful care/obstetric racism. Based on these priorities, two policy projects were developed and submitted to the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. In 2021, two Masters of Public Policy students conducted studies on these projects. The first was to conduct an implementation analysis of SB-464, or the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act, to identify barriers, facilitators, and best practices for the policy implementation of implicit bias trainings. SB-464 is a bill that was intended to address the disparities in Black maternal health and birthing outcomes by focusing interventions on healthcare systems and providers. The second was examining the impact of evictions on preterm births and family health outcomes to provide insight into the experience of housing instability during pregnancy as well as policy solutions to address this problem. Read the full reports and one-page summaries.


Limiting Evictions Can Reduce Preterm Births

Evictions impact preterm birth rates - one pager

One page summary

Full Report

Implementation of Implicit Bias Training

One-page summary

Full Report


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Read Our Policy Briefs for Policymakers

Food Security Program Expansion Can Help Reduce Preterm Birth

Food security and preterm birth policy brief

Housing Insecurity and Health of Pregnant People 

housing policy brief