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School of Nursing wins collaborative $2.28 million grant addressing maternal mortality, morbidity

CHAMPions will support new mothers in underserved areas with the help of key partners
Woman with baby and another woman.

The Texas A&M University School of Nursing and partners are developing a community-based health promotion program to address maternal health disparities in southeast Texas through a five-year, $2.28 million grant from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS).

The Texas A&M School of Nursing is partnering with the Texas A&M School of Public Health, the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Driscoll Children’s Hospital, Driscoll Health Plan and the Global Institute for Hispanic Health for the project, which is titled Community Hands Advancing Maternal Health Promotion (CHAMPions).

HHS awarded the grant under a Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) program for maternal and child health.

The nurse-led program aims to mitigate maternal, child and family health risks by sending nurses, social workers and community health workers (CHWs) into underserved mothers’ homes during pregnancy and their first year postpartum. These maternal-child navigators will be specially trained to offer support through health education and advice as they “champion” improved outcomes. The navigators will also engage in outreach to help community members better understand maternal health risks. The interdisciplinary CHAMPions team is creating a unique public and community health curriculum for navigators to use in their home and community visits.

Robin Page, PhD, APRN, CNM, FACNM, FAAN, an associate professor at the Texas A&M School of Nursing, serves as principal investigator for CHAMPions. The project team also includes Kelly Wilson, PhD, MCHES, associate dean for research at the Texas A&M School of Nursing; Nancy Downing, PhD, RN, an associate professor at the Texas A&M School of Nursing; Gang Han, PhD, professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health; and Christina Murphey, PhD, a professor at the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Maternal mortality rates in Texas are among the highest in the United States. In 2021, Texas reported 43.9 deaths per 1,000 births compared to the national average of 33 deaths per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Maternal mortality rates are high across the country and especially here in Texas, making this work a priority for agencies like HHS, HRSA, and Texas A&M and our partners,” Page said. “We are proud to be one of just 16 universities across the country selected under this award program. The collaboration among our partners underscores the critical importance of better understanding and addressing the root causes of maternal mortality and morbidity. This hub-and-spoke model is attracting a lot of attention on a federal level and across the country for its progressive, collaborative methodology.”

CHAMPions will be co-managed from Bryan-College Station and Corpus Christi. The project’s university partners will also evaluate the effectiveness of the program curriculum, while Driscoll Children’s Hospital and Driscoll Health Plan will help implement the program through their network of clinics and health insurance programs in South Texas.

As the lead organization for the CHAMPions project, the Texas A&M School of Nursing will operate the project within its Program of Excellence for Mothers, Children and Families (POEMCF), which develops and manages projects that improve the health and well-being of families and communities across Texas. CHAMPions is one of several POEMCF efforts designed to improve outcomes for vulnerable mothers and their families.

For information on CHAMPions, visit

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under cooperative agreement 1 UR6MC50353‐01‐00, Maternal Health Research Collaborative for Minority Serving Institutions. The information, content, and/or conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government.

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