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Rancho Cucamonga-based nonprofit aims to be an ally to marginalized communities

“There’s a kind of sisterhood that happens a lot in the birthing communities," said Dr. Sayida Peprah-Wilson, executive director of Diversity Uplifts, Inc.

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By Greg Archer | Contributing Columnist

Sayida Peprah-Wilson is the executive director of the Rancho Cucamonga-based Diversity Uplifts, Inc. (Courtesy of Diversity Uplifts, Inc.)
Sayida Peprah-Wilson is the executive director of the Rancho Cucamonga-based Diversity Uplifts, Inc. (Courtesy of Diversity Uplifts, Inc.)

Founded in 2018, . is a direct service, consulting, and training organization with a goal to improve the well-being of women, birthing people, children, and families. The nonprofit aims to support marginalized and minority communities, and improve cultural competence among providers who also help them.

“There are so many things that touch the birthing people and the family,” said Dr. Sayida Peprah-Wilson, executive director of Diversity Uplifts. “There are so many social determinants, so many pieces that make up a great maternal health system and emotional support systems for the family. It benefits from a lot more intentional coordination, which we do, between people actually having the experiences and doing the work, and those that are creating policy and systems.”

The organization offers a broad reach. It supports communities by advocating on advisory boards, and providing guidance on county, state, and national policies. It also backs policies focused on uplifting communities of color as well as marginalized communities.

Supporting community-based programs are key to the organization, too — from coordinating advanced training of community-based doulas and birthworkers to facilitating low-cost trainings for small community centers and organizations. Supporting consultations to providers and offering educational training on topics such as implicit bias, historical trauma and racism, and maternal mental health, also factor into the mix.

Peprah-Wilson said the organization works as an ally for the Black community of birthing people and families, offering significant support “on the ground,” from personal experience of mother-baby dyads and couples to families and hospital systems and all the doulas, midwives, OBs, and insurance elements in between.

“Because I am a doula and I’m also a Black woman who’s birthed, I have supported and developed a number of community doula programs which always ends up connecting with other people in the birth landscape, because doulas aren’t really doing work on their own,” Peprah-Wilson said. “There are providers that they’re working with — hospitals that they’re going to, there’s midwives, law students that they’re also working with, outside of doctors. So, I’m in this world of being connected to everybody.”

That connection is key. Peprah-Wilson isn’t immune to the challenges she and the organization sometimes face to “connect” different entities.

“I know people in systems and I hear them saying, ‘We have efforts for health equity, and we want you to help us understand how to have more equitable processes,’” she said. “And then I’m working with the doulas we’re actually working with and others I’m training, and neither knows that I’m talking to the other person. It’s not like it’s a coordinated effort, but it’s intentional to me because I know what it would take for all these pieces to be together. There has to be some communication but there isn’t.

“The systems are not listening as a way to build their systems to what is happening to people,” she said. “I try to fill that gap.”

Recently Diversity Uplifts received a grant from the through . The resources will allow the Rancho Cucamonga-based nonprofit to continue with its efforts.

“I try to fill those needs gaps personally,” Peprah-Wilson said, “and the structure of the nonprofit is to be in support and in connection with the board, so we can hold a space for a lot of the gaps that exist. We certainly can’t solve everything and certainly not by ourselves, but with a collective effort a lot can be done with the right people in a room talking to each other.”

One recent gathering at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department proved fruitful.

“We have a really involved, active, and motivated sheriff who runs the jails where pregnant people will end up,” Peprah-Wilson said. “He said, ‘Anything you need, let me know, and I’ll do it. And that’s a great asset, but without actually knowing, what that actually looks like and what will be needed…. Who is going to determine what’s needed?’”

Peprah-Wilson said she did have some ideas. “Because I’m in all the spaces and I work with organizations that have jail programs that support pregnant people, I’m able to say, ‘OK, here’s some ideas, here’s some connecting points.’”

These links become essential in the long run and Peprah-Wilson said there’s a great deal of “heart” in what she does.

“There’s a kind of sisterhood that happens a lot in the birthing communities, but we also have connections with the fathers and the family, and overall, you can really see the benefits of the work,” she said.

Learn more about Diversity Uplifts, Inc. at .

 works to strengthen Inland Southern California through philanthropy.

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