WomenVenture loan client, Rebecca Polston, is the owner of Roots Community Birth Center in North Minneapolis.
One nonprofit organization can change the shape of a community in need, but what do you get when four organizations work together on a common project? The answer is Roots Community Birth Center, located in North Minneapolis. Roots provides midwifery and out-of-hospital births for families from all ethnic, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds. It was the product of a unique partnership between WomenVenture, Neighborhood Development Center (NDC), Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON), and the Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce (MBCC). When describing the partnership, Roots owner, Rebecca Polston, says: “I don’t think people understand just how powerful it is to have all these organizations work together to back you up. They all came together to leverage resources and provide technical support. That has been the difference for making this be really successful.”
Initial funding from all four organizations enabled Rebecca to purchase her building and furnish it with the equipment needed to offer affordable, low-cost options and inclusive access to out-of-hospital birth experiences for all families. It also provided her with the means to hire 6 staff members from within the community. Says Rebecca, “We’ve really tried to use some innovative models around our staffing by always working with and hiring staff from our community. It feels really good to be using a local organization to fund me to be able to hire people who are also local.” The staff receives training on cultural and religious birth practices and they perform outreach in North Minneapolis and the surrounding area to educate community members about birthing options and prenatal care.
Rebecca’s business has seen tremendous growth since opening its doors. In February, Roots was faced with two patients having water births at the same time and a water heater that was stretched beyond its capacity. In desperation, the team resorted to boiling water on the stove to ensure that they had enough warm water to safely deliver both babies. Knowing that the next month was scheduled to bring even more babies, and hoping to avoid a repeat performance, Rebecca turned to WomenVenture for an additional loan to purchase a new high-capacity water heater, additional supplies, and the breathing room to allow her business to catch up with demand.
But the partnership doesn’t end there. As part of her post-loan support, Rebecca and her staff have been receiving ongoing training in QuickBooks and WomenVenture will also be providing assistance with marketing and medical reimbursements in the near future. When asked why she chose WomenVenture, Rebecca says, “I really love that people seem to know my story when I walk in the door; everyone knows what I’m doing and people seem to know about my project without me having to explain it. There is also a really high caliber of knowledge. The people are fun, but they also take it seriously and they know what they are doing. It feels good to be able turn that over and say that I can trust the information that I’m getting because it’s really clear that WomenVenture knows what they’re doing.”