The Fresno County Preterm Birth Initiative received the 2017 Excellence in Partnership Award in the Research and Evaluation category, presented by the University of California, San Francisco’s Center for Community Engagement and Council.

Representatives from the initiative received the award on Oct. 19 at the Annual Partnerships Celebration at UCSF Medical Center.

Fresno County PTBi Steering Committee members, Emilia Reyes (middle left), executive director of First 5 Fresno County, and Erica Martinez (middle right), member of the PTBi Parent’s Council, accept the award in San Francisco. Oct. 19, 2017. 

The Excellence in Partnership Award, given annually, recognizes exemplary partnerships between community initiatives and UCSF that build on each other’s strengths to improve higher education, civic engagement and overall health of communities.

The awardee must work in an existing partnership to achieve the systems and policy changes needed to overcome the root causes of health inequities. The award highlights the power and potential of university-community partnerships as a strategy for social justice.

Through a partnership between the UCSF California Preterm Birth Initiative and the Central California Center for Health and Human Services at Fresno State, local leaders and organizations across Fresno County have joined the initiative and are working collaboratively to address the epidemic of preterm birth through the Collective Impact.

In April 2015, a steering committee comprised of leaders from health care, education, community-based organizations, businesses and other sectors that serve women and families, was formed to help guide the initiative.

Since then, a community-based approach has been used to help reduce preterm births in Fresno County from 11.1 percent to 7 percent by 2025, resulting in a 37 percent reduction of babies born prematurely in Fresno County.

The initiative recently launched GLOW! – a research initiative that explores a new way to deliver group prenatal care with the goal of reducing early delivery.

In total, 22 committee members, 129 partners, 77 organizations, systems and community members, including moms with lived experience, are working with the initiative. They are providing support and services to communities at highest risk for preterm birth, including low-income families, families living in southwest Fresno and African American, Hispanic, and Southeast Asian families.

“This award celebrates what the Fresno County Preterm Birth Initiative has been able to achieve, utilizing a commitment to partnerships that greatly influence our region and bring a sense of pride to our community,” said Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro, a member of the steering committee.

The Fresno County Preterm Birth Initiative is part of a 10-year Preterm Birth Initiative, led by UCSF and funded by philanthropists Lynne and Marc Benioff. Fresno State serves as the backbone organization for the Fresno initiative.

For more information on the initiative, contact program director Sandra Flores at 559.278.2126 or