Methodist Health System Foundation has been awarded $318,412 in grant funds from United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. Methodist earned the funds for an innovative and effective free community program to dramatically reduce premature births – the Life Shines Bright Pregnancy program.

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas announced distribution of more than $24.8 million dollars to fund 126 exceptional non-profit programs, all laser-focused on achieving long-term community impact in the key focus areas of education, income, and health.  For the first time in its 86-year history, United Way opened its grants process, giving all non-profits the opportunity to apply for funding.  The new list of grant recipients includes 19 non-profits receiving United Way funds for the first time, including the Methodist Health System Foundation.

“We are honored to receive this landmark grant from United Way, especially in a highly competitive pool of so many worthy programs and projects,” says April Box Chamberlain, president and CEO of the Methodist Health System Foundation. “We appreciate that selection for grant funding reflects recognition of an effective project on behalf of better community health and a trust in us for tracking results and continuing to ensure that such programs as Life Shines Bright serve the community well.”

More than 160 applicants submitted a total of 350 grant proposals and United Way volunteers awarded impact grants to 78 non-profit organizations across North Texas – all with proven program track records, evidenced by outstanding outcomes.  Health care applicants were selected in part due to support strategies that included increasing access to primary health care. The Life Shines Bright Pregnancy program includes prenatal health care for low income populations. Participants in the project have a dramatically lower premature birth rate.

The Life Shines Bright Pregnancy program offered through the Methodist Dallas Medical Center Golden Cross Academic Clinic, is an  innovative preterm birth prevention program featuring a new model for prenatal care and group education for at-risk pregnant women and their families with a goal of significantly reducing premature births. The group prenatal classes offer young mothers opportunities for education, support, and networking with other moms-to-be. As a result of the program, preterm birth rates for participants in the program have dropped to 5.6 percent compared to as high as 23 percent in the Dallas area.

“Methodist Dallas has one of the best neonatal intensive care units in the country, but our goal is to reduce preterm births and the need for so many infants to begin life in a NICU,” says Dr. Stephen L. Mansfield, president and CEO of Methodist Health System. “This program targets reducing preterm birth rates in some Dallas community areas that are among the highest in the state and serves as a model for communities across Texas and the nation.”

“United Way is proud to fund programs making measurable strides to improve our community and change lives forever,” says Bill Morrison, UWMD Community Impact Council chair.  He adds that United Way volunteers spent over 17,000 collective hours reviewing grant proposals, taking site visits, and evaluating data for selection of the grants awarded. Measurable results and detailed accountability are stressed.